A blood moon over Boston: Remembering the 2004 Red Sox

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grazianoA blood moon hung in the night sky above Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., on October 27, 2004, a night that ended 86 years of abject misery for the Boston Red Sox and their devoted fanbase. 

A blood moon—a moniker that describes the Earth’s moon during a total lunar eclipse—hung in the night sky as Edgar Renteria tapped a ground ball back to Red Sox closer Keith Foulke, who tossed it underhand to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out of the 2004 World Series

It would turn out to be the first of four World Series titles that the Red Sox would go on to win early in the new century. It was the first championship since 1918 when owner Harry Frazee—whose name was venom on the tongues of Red Sox fans for 86 years—traded the Red Sox star player, a guy named Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees so Frazee could fund a production of the play “No, No, Nanette.” 

There was a blood moon in the sky that night when I woke my daughter, Paige, in her crib and carried her downstairs to watch the final out with me. My wife, pregnant with our son, fell asleep early, and I needed someone to share the moment with me. 

But I didn’t wake my daughter without trepidation. You see, in 1986, my father woke me to watch the Red Sox win the World Series. 

I was 11 years old, in the sixth grade, enjoying a deep sleep, when Game 6 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the New York Mets stretched into the tenth inning. A cautious and circumspect man, my father waited until the last possible minute before waking me. 

With two outs and a two-run lead—Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd had allegedly already cracked the first bottle of champagne in the locker room—my father nudged me in my bed. “Get up,” he said. “The Red Sox are about to win the World Series.”

Elated, I followed my father into his bedroom where he was watching the game on an old television set. My mother worked third shift as a nurse, and my younger sister was still asleep, indifferent to the fate of the Red Sox. It was the type of father/son bonding moment that couldn’t have been scripted any better.

Then the wheels fell off the wagon. Most New Englanders know how that night ended.

When Mookie Wilson hit a slow ground ball down the first base line, and the ball went through a hobbled Bill Buckner’s legs, my father lost his proverbial shit—as I would lose my proverbial shit 17 years later when Red Sox manager Grady Little would refuse to take out an exhausted Pedro Martinez in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees, surrendering a three-run lead. 

In the eleventh inning of that game, a guy named Aaron “Bleeping” Boone would hit a walk-off homerun and send me over the edge, convincing me that curses were real. 

There wasn’t a blood moon in the sky on either of those nights in 1986 and 2003, respectively. 

There was a blood moon in the sky the night that I held my daughter and my breath as Edgar Renteria tapped a ground ball back to Red Sox closer Keith Foulke, who tossed it underhand to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out of the World Series.

There was a blood moon in the sky as I cried on the night of Oct. 27, 2004. 

I cried for the end of 86 years of torment and unanswered prayers and “you’ll get ‘em next year.”  I cried for an entire generation of fans who lived long lives and died without ever seeing the Red Sox win a World Series. I cried for my daughter, who was asleep in my arms, and my son, who was unborn. 

I cried for every blood moon that I had ever seen before, and every blood moon that I would ever see again. 

I cried then I called my father, who was watching the game in Rhode Island. 

My father answered the phone on the first ring. “They did it,” he said. On the television set in the background, the 2004 Red Sox—the self-proclaimed “Idiots”—continued to pig-pile on the St. Louis pitchers’ mound. 

“I know,” I said and didn’t know what else to say, afraid I might cry. Of course, there was so much I wanted to say in that moment about the things I didn’t realize that I had just learned about the world and hope and faith. 

And blood moons. 

We hung up without another word spoken, and I put my daughter back in her crib and climbed in bed beside my wife to fall asleep, then awake in a new world where – sometimes – just believing can be enough. 

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You can reach Nate Graziano at ngrazio5@yahoo.com 

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About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com