World Series trophy comes to Manchester
MANCHESTER – Kenneth Gagne was born in August 1918 – just before the Red Sox won their second-to-last World Series.
He died this year on the morning of Oct. 28 – the day after the Sox earned their first championship trophy in 86 years.
His nephew, Carl Floyd of Londonderry, doesn’t think it was a coincidence. When Gagne fell sick this year, Floyd said he knew his uncle would live to see the Red Sox win again.
“There was divine intervention,” Floyd said. “I knew in the spring, this year would be the one.”
Floyd, 62, and friend Lionel LeBlanc, 79, traveled to Veterans Park in Manchester on Tuesday to join fellow Sox fans in celebrating an event Floyd’s uncle had anticipated for more than eight decades.
The Boston Red Sox World Series trophy appeared in New Hampshire’s largest city Tuesday as part of a post-victory tour through the New England states.
A public viewing of the trophy was held in the Manchester City Hall Plaza from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., followed by a V.I.P. reception at the Radisson Hotel and a public rally at Veterans Park on Elm Street.
Red Sox pitcher Alan Embree greeted fans near the end of the 3 p.m. rally to an explosion of cheers and chants.
Hours earlier hundreds of fans were already gathered both in City Hall Plaza and at Veterans Park to pay tribute to their championship team.
The line to see the trophy stretched from the steps of the plaza down the street, as excited fans waited to see a tangible reminder of the Red Sox World Series victory.
Collis Adams of Goffstown took the afternoon off from work and pulled his son out of school early to get a glimpse of the trophy. Adams said he is just as enthusiastic today about the end of an 86-year slump as he was a month ago.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said, inching up the stairs to see the trophy with his son. “The thrill doesn’t diminish.”
Jay Perry and Dave Langlais, both of Lowell, Mass., agreed. Even a month after the victory and in the midst of the holiday season, Perry said the excited has not worn off.
“Christmas is on it’s own level, but this is always nice,” Perry said.
Langlais, who works in Manchester as an engineer, appreciated being able to see an event his grandparents would have wanted to witness, but never did.
However, Langlais’ excitement was slightly affected by the possibility of Red Sox players moving to the Yankees. He doesn’t want any of the players to move to the Dark Side, especially Pedro Martinez or Jason Varitek.
“We don’t want to see Pedro in pinstripes,” Langlais said as he approached the entrance to city hall.
By 2:45, the lawn of Veterans Park was nearly full of fans donning every type of Red Sox gear imaginable, from Santa Claus hats with Boston logos, to pink hats with backwards Bs to “Reverse the Curse,” to homemade World Series champions T-shirts.
Children perched themselves in trees, on the steps of a flagpole and on statue pedestals to get a better view of the stage one of their heroes would soon be approaching.
Occasional chants, such as “re-peat, re-peat, re-peat,” or “let’s go Red Sox” erupted from the crowd as fans waited to see Embree, who did speak until almost 4 p.m.
Fans became impatient as they listened to a series of speeches that started at 3 p.m. The crowd heard Manchester Mayor Robert Baines, Gov. Craig Benson, Gov.-elect John Lynch, Congressman Jeb Bradley and several others express their personal gratitude toward the Red Sox before Embree approached the microphone.
“Get off the stage,” one fan yelled to Dave Long, interim director of the Manchester sports council, as he talked about the recently formed group.
“Alan! Alan! Alan!” other crowd members chanted as the speeches continued.
When Embree finally arrived on stage, claps and cheers filled the crowd. A group of men in the middle of the crowd pumped their fists in the air and yelled. When the pitcher held the World Series trophy in the air for the audience to see, the cheers became even louder.
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Embree joked as fans quieted. “It’s just a piece of metal.”
Embree, the pitcher who threw the last out in Game 7 of the Red Sox/Yankees American League Championship Series, described the feeling of being part of the Boston team and thanked the crowd for their support.
“That was the coolest experience of my life . . . I’m glad you were all there to share it with me,” Embree said.
LeBlanc was grateful to share the experience too. He was beginning to think the day would never come.
“It was an impossible dream that really came true,” LeBlanc said. “It was an apparition, a mirage, a miracle.”