In 2004, the Boston Red Sox pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of postseason baseball when they rallied from a 3-0 series hole to eliminate arch-rival New York in the ALCS. They eventually went on to capture the franchise's first World Series title in 86 years to cap off an improbable and magical playoff run.
Thanks to Pedro Martinez, one of the pitchers from that team, we may now know how they were able to do it. Apparently, the secret weapon consisted of sipping on a Dominican rum concoction before games.
“We took a shot of Mama Juana every single game, before the game,” Martinez said in an interview conducted Saturday at the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Game in Rochester, N.Y. “We call it Mama Juana — it’s made of roots, with latin rum.”
According to Martinez, the custom started before Game 4 of the ALCS when Ellis Burks, a member of the 2004 team who was not on the postseason roster at the time, decided to try a swig of the alcoholic beverage. Later that evening, the Red Sox pulled out a thrilling 6-4 win in 12 innings over the Yankees to live to play another game.
Naturally, a tradition was born.
“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."
Martinez quickly clarified that the shots weren't particularly strong nor were they actual full, though.
"It was just a little sip," Martinez said.
Of course, indulging in adult drinks isn't anything new for the Red Sox. Some may remember the story in 2011 revealing how players drank in the clubhouse during games. That year didn't end as well as '04 as Boston finished the campaign 7-20 to miss out on the playoffs altogether.
Perhaps Martinez needs to come back and show the current team how it's done.
Via The Rotation