The 2004 Boston Red Sox team achieved some special things that season. They made that historical and improbable comeback from a 3-0 deficit to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and then went on to win the team’s first title in 86 years when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
The loose clubhouse atmosphere was a staple for that Red Sox team, led by the likes of slugger Manny Ramirez and legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez.
And according to a story via Amanda Rykoff of Sports on Earth, Martinez says that the players went as far as to take shots during the playoffs, starting in the series against the Yankees when they were facing elimination.
“We took a shot of Mama Juana every single game, before the game,” Martinez said in an interview conducted in the dugout of the AL legends team, for whom Martinez pitched in Saturday’s exhibition game. “We call it Mama Juana — it’s made of roots, with latin rum.”
Martinez said that Ellis Burks, a player who wasn’t even on the playoff roster started the pre-game ritual before Game 4 and once they started winning, there was no way they were going to stop.
“Everybody took a little bit from the top of the shot after we won the first game,” Martinez said. “Somebody did it before the game — it was Ellis Burks who wasn’t on the roster at the time who took the first shot. And then Millar jumped in. And then Johnny Damon jumped in. And everybody started jumping in, so we did it as a team unity to actually keep the same tradition going for the team. So we had to do it for the four games we beat the Yankees.
“We started when we were down 3-0,” Martinez continued. “And Ellis decided to taste it to see what it tastes like, then Millar wants to taste it and everybody wants to taste it so we all do it. And the hell with it. And we ended up winning.”
“It wouldn’t get you drunk because it was just a little sip,” Martinez said. “But we did it.”
There are quite a few tales out there about the crazy stunts that Red Sox team engaged in, so this doesn’t really surprise me. I think I’d be more surprised if they weren’t drinking.
Terry Francona ran a very liberal clubhouse and although it would eventually cost him his job, they were able to bring two titles to an organization that almost went an entire century without one.