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Said Morgan afterward, "I figured, What the heck. He's got speed. He's a lefthanded hitter. He was loose." So the third Jeff lashed Henke's second pitch into the gap in right center, giving the Red Sox a victory that put them in first place and himself in the pantheon of unlikely Boston heroes, right alongside Bernie Carbo. As Stone's teammates mobbed him, Fenway was filled with the spirit of 7-6. "The greatest game I have ever seen," said Rocky Grossack, a fan from Hull, Mass., "and I have been to at least 200 Sox games." Said Morgan, "Any fan who left this game early should be ashamed of himself."
That the hero should be Stone made the game even more special. "Stonie turned a sleepless night into a night of sweet dreams," said Andersen. So unfamiliar is Stone to Boston that on Friday night, local sportscasters kept referring to him as a rookie, even though he's 29 and has also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Orioles.
As he has bounced around, he has started more anecdotes than rallies. One of 15 children from a poor Missouri family, Stone is well liked for his sweet disposition and naiveté. Once asked if he wanted a shrimp cocktail, Stone replied, "I don't drink." Told during a road series against the Pirates that he should count sheep to get to sleep, he said, "They don't have sheep in Pittsburgh."
Says Andersen, who played with Stone in Philadelphia, "My favorite Stonie story is the time he flew in to Philly from Hawaii. I asked him if he was going to be in the starting lineup, and he said, 'I hope not. I got jet legs.' "
Actually, his jet legs have kept him in organized ball. "I'm on Cloud 10," said Stone after his big moment. "I've thought about quitting, even this year. But to be honest, I don't have anything else to do."
When Stone arrived in Boston, his Jeep Cherokee, with his belongings inside, was stolen. But a few days later, the vehicle was returned to him. Maybe it was an omen. It was at least a metaphor for the Red Sox's season thus far: lost and found.
There has been much talk in Boston recently of The Curse of the Bambino, the title of a popular book by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy that details all Red Sox sins since Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919. So last Saturday at 12:30 p.m., in the very spot that the hot dog machine caught fire, WZLX radio broadcast a live curse-lifting. Doing the honors were Sean Poirier, a third-generation witch from Salem who's registered with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Lee, a part-time veterinarian's assistant from Craftsbury Common, Vt., who used to pitch lefthanded for the Sox. Waving a bat (please note that it was a Tom Brunansky model) over the crowd, Poirier incanted, "This is a symbol of victory. May the powers of the universe and the love of the fans and the energy of the players come together so that the Red Sox may fly again." Then he handed the bat to Lee and told him to deliver it to the players. Poirier was perfectly serious about the whole thing. Asked what his day job was, the witch replied, "This is my day job. And night job."
However, even he didn't know if Clemens was going to pitch that afternoon. Bothered by a shoulder inflammation, Clemens had not appeared in a game since Sept. 4. Oh, there had been occasional sightings—the Rocket was sometimes seen testing his arm in the bullpen, allegedly seen on a golf course, and definitely seen at an M.C. Hammer concert last Thursday night in Boston while the Red Sox were beating the Tigers in Detroit—but no one knew for sure if Clemens could go on Saturday. The Blue Jays had taped two lineup cards to their clubhouse door, one for Clemens and one for Hesketh. Morgan called over Toronto manager Cito Gaston to apologize for the mystery and to assure him that the Red Sox weren't bluffing.
At 2:49 p.m., Clemens left the Boston dugout and walked out to the bullpen with Morgan, Fischer and bullpen coach Dick Berardino. The fans cheered. Visible to the crowd were little green doodads attached to Clemens's shoelaces, which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lace clamps, a fashion accessory approved by his sons, Koby and Kory.
Clemens's first soft toss to catcher John Marzano flew into the adjacent Blue Jay bullpen, but Marzano later said Clemens always does that. At 2:59 he began to throw in earnest. "I knew right away he was fine," said Marzano. "He was pumped up, too, talking to himself. 'Awright, awright, awright,' he kept saying."