As he looks back on an MVP 1995 season, Vaughn has no trouble picking out the one moment that stands above the rest. He was hoping to play every game this season, but he missed a couple after he was in a brawl at a Boston nightclub in the early hours of July 14. It still bothers him that he got involved, but he says he had no choice: His girlfriend was being harassed by a guy who, it turned out, was a convicted felon and a known gang member. Vaughn says he did "what any man would do," but during the melee he was knocked down and kicked in the head.
The morning after the fight he looked in the mirror and saw that his left eye was swollen shut. He held a press conference on July 15 at Fenway and apologized to his team and the fans, especially to the kids. His teammates and friends say they had never seen Vaughn as nervous as he was when he returned to the lineup on July 16. "The fans had let me into their hearts, and they had been great to me," he says. "I just wasn't sure: Did any of that change? I knew I had let them down, and I was so worried."
He shouldn't have been. He is the most popular Red Sox player of his time. Baseball has problems, but Boston has Vaughn. Before he reached the batter's box, the crowd was standing and cheering and letting him know that nothing had changed. Vaughn stepped out of the box, took a breath and choked back tears. "That was probably the highlight of my career," he says. "That was better than any home run I'd hit or game I'd won, because I didn't know if the people would stay behind me. I guess they felt like I was earning my pay."
He earned his pay, and he earned our MVP. He doesn't have to worry. We won't ask him to get back on the horse.