BOSTON – From the Green Monster to the Charles River, the bearded champions celebrated their improbable journey with another familiar sight in Boston: the World Series trophy.
For the third time in 10 years, the Red Sox carried the prize through their city in a “rolling rally” of amphibious duck boats as thousands of fans lined the streets and the banks of the waterway that separates Boston from Cambridge.
One poignant moment occurred early in Saturday’s trip, when the vehicles stopped at the Boston Marathon finish line — near where two explosions killed three spectators at the race April 15.
Outfielder Jonny Gomes placed the trophy on the line and he and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia held Red Sox jerseys with the words “BOSTON STRONG” and the number 617, the city’s area code. A jersey with that message was in the team’s dugout throughout the season after the bombings.
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On a mild, sunny day, noted tenor Ronan Tynan sang “God Bless America” and the crowd joined in.
“That was an emotional moment,” Gomes said. “To bring the World Series trophy to the finish line, I don’t think that the story was written that way, but I was glad to be a part of it and put the exclamation point on it.”
Before the rally began at Fenway Park, manager John Farrell recalled the Red Sox had left after their 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on the day of the Boston Marathon for Logan Airport for a trip. Along the way, they saw emergency vehicles responding to the explosions.
“Knowing that we were heading out of town, that’s going to bring back a lot and a lot of uncertainty at that moment,” Farrell said, “because no one knew where to turn next. So we were fortunate to be part of maybe a little bit of a healing process.”
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia said, “We played for the whole city, what the city went through.”
Boston’s climb from last place in the AL East in 2012 to the top of the baseball world was stunning to most observers.
But not to Pedroia, a gritty leader of a closely knit team that won the title with a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 on Wednesday night. It was the first time the Red Sox won the World Series at home in 95 years.
“The way we started spring training, it seemed like everybody counted us out,” he said. “We always said, ‘One day closer to a parade.’ It’s here.”
The line score from the clinching game was still on the scoreboard on the left-field wall as season-ticket holders gathered for a ceremony before the rally.
“We just wanted this group to win so badly,” general manager Ben Cherington told the crowd, “because we know they wanted it so badly.”
Then the team boarded 25 duck boats of many colors — pink, yellow, maroon, lime green, white and more — normally used for tourist trips.
Some boats had light brown carpeting cut into the shape of beards attached on the front.
Players still had their beards, which some had grown all season long.
“Hopefully, we can all get together and shave them for a good cause,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said.
Some fans also were at rolling rallies after the 2004 and 2007 championships.
“This may be the best parade yet,” said Charles Butler, 48, of Boston, who attended his third. “It is the best thing that could have happened to Boston right now. The bombing was a sad time, and now we have a reason to come together and celebrate.”
• Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leads Boston’s group of potential free agents and, after a strong season, likely could get a better offer elsewhere. The Red Sox are leery of giving long-term contracts and Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, is expected to ask for a nine-figure deal.
• Johnny Kucks, who pitched a three-hitter for the champion New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, died of cancer Thursday in Saddle River, N.J. He was 81.