BOSTON — More than an hour after the final out, players lingered on the field and fans stood by their seats, cheering, singing and applauding.
A celebration nearly a century in the making was unfolding at the old ballpark, a long-awaited moment generations of New Englanders had never been able to witness.
Turmoil to triumph. Worst to first. A clincher at Fenway Park.
David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox, baseball’s bearded wonders, capped their remarkable turnaround by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to win their third World Series championship in 10 seasons.
When it was over, Ortiz took a microphone on the field and addressed the city, just as he did a week after the marathon bombings last April.
“This is for you, Boston. You guys deserve it,” the Series MVP said. “We’ve been through a lot this year and this is for all of you and all those families who struggled.”
And the Red Sox didn’t even have to fly the trophy home. For the first time since Babe Ruth’s team back in 1918, Boston won the title at Fenway. The 101-year-old stadium, oldest in the majors, was jammed with 38,447 singing, shouting fans anticipating a party that had been building for more than nine decades.
“Maybe they won’t have to go another 95 years,” said John Farrell, a champion in his first season as Boston’s manager.
Shane Victorino, symbolic of these resilient Sox, returned from a stiff back and got Boston rolling with a three-run double off the Green Monster against rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Pumped with emotion, Victorino pounded his chest with both fists three times.
John Lackey became the first pitcher to start and win a Series clincher for two different teams, allowing one run over 6 2-3 innings 11 years after his Game 7 victory as an Angels rookie in 2002.
With fans roaring on every pitch and cameras flashing, Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out. The Japanese pitcher jumped into the arms of catcher David Ross while Red Sox players rushed from the dugout and bullpen as the Boston theme “Dirty Water” played on the public-address system.
There wasn’t the “Cowboy Up!” comeback charm of “The Idiots” from 2004, who swept St. Louis to end an 86-year title drought. There wasn’t that cool efficiency of the 2007 team that swept Colorado.
This time, they were Boston Strong — playing for a city shaken by tragedy.
“I don’t think we put Boston on our back. I think we jumped on their back,” Jonny Gomes said. “They wouldn’t let us quit.”
After a late-season collapse in 2011, the embarrassing revelations of a fried chicken-and-beer clubhouse culture that contributed to the ouster of manager Terry Francona, and the daily tumult of Bobby Valentine’s one-year flop, these Red Sox grew on fans.