Red Sox

Ron Roenicke recalls losing World Series from most painful vantage point imaginable

Ron Roenicke recalls losing World Series from most painful vantage point imaginable

Ron Roenicke sprinted towards second base and into the face of a human tidal wave that stopped him dead in his tracks. The magical run of the 1984 Padres was over.

Roenicke may not be the first player that comes to mind on a San Diego team that included Tony Gwynn, Steve Garvey, and Goose Gossage.

But he was the last Padre to run the bases, affording him the relatively rare vantage point of watching a World Series celebration unfold at ground zero.

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We remember final outs of various Fall Classics for the reactions of the pitcher and catcher, whether it's Jesse Orosco tossing his glove joyously in 1986 or Jason Varitek jumping into the arms of Keith Foulke in 2004.

But what about the losing players, the ones who helplessly watch their dreams go up in smoke while engulfed in delirious bedlam? Roenicke knows that feeling, and he won't soon forget it.

He was on first base in Tiger Stadium when Tony Gwynn flied to left to complete Detroit's 8-4 win in 1984's clinching Game 5.

Tabbed to pinch run for fellow future manager Bruce Bochy, Roenicke raced halfway to second base before he saw not only the Tigers leaping from their dugout, but fans pouring onto the field to celebrate the city's first World Series title since 1968.

"I remember on the pop-up taking off running and then just seeing this mass of people coming on the field, and all I could think about was just get off the field and get in the dugout and try to be safe," Roenicke said earlier this offseason. "You're used to everything being in control on a baseball field and when the stands empty and it's chaos, it's a weird feeling like, 'What's going on?'"

Roenicke was lucky to be on the field at all. He opened the 1984 season without a team after being cut by the Mariners in spring training. He signed with the Padres on April 5 and spent most of the season at Triple A. Summoned on Sept. 1, he hit .300 in 12 games and figured his season was over, watching the Padres shock the Cubs in the NLCS, aided largely by Garvey's walk-off homer in Game 4.

Outfielder Kevin McReynolds injured his wrist during that series, however, opening a World Series roster spot. It went to Roenicke, a 28-year-old who had found himself in the opposite position just three years earlier, when an ankle sprain with a week to go cost him his job as the Dodgers' starting center fielder and sidelined him for the entire championship run.

"I jumped for the first base bag and blew up an ankle," Roenicke recalled. "I was still kind of involved in that one on the sidelines in the locker room and watching what was going on, but I wasn't on the field. Playing in '84, it meant something. You want to feel like you're involved and you're a piece of something."

Broadcaster Vin Scully recognized what that small moment meant for Roenicke, noting the juxtaposition with '81 and telling viewers, "So you see, fate has a way of evening up, I guess."

By the time Roenicke entered with one out, the Padres trailed 8-4 against a 104-win Tigers club that might've been the team of the decade. The unheralded Padres had already shocked the Cubs after losing the first two games of the NLCS, though, and never counted themselves out.

"We had a good team," Roenicke said. "I don't think anybody expected us to get through the Cubs. Sometimes when you're on a team that may not feel like the best team, but you win, it seems like you always think that something's going to happen, something good is going to happen."

Not this time. Alan Wiggins fouled to catcher Lance Parrish against MVP and Cy Young Award winner Willie Hernandez before Gwynn lined softly to left, opening the floodgates and leaving players on both sides fearing for their safety. Even Kirk Gibson, basically Mr. Tiger, had to throw fans off of him to reach the dugout.

"They won, so at least everyone's coming on the field happy," Roenicke said. "Then it got crazy on the bus. It was a mess. We showered up and we were waiting for escorts to the airport and they were having trouble.

There's a police car on fire, there's a cab that pulls up and the people are grabbing it and they end up taking the driver out and flipping the cab car over. It was pretty dangerous. And then the mounted police came in and just cleared the streets. And then our escort got to us and we got out of there.

Roenicke wouldn't reach a World Series again as a player, retiring in 1988 after an itinerant eight-year career. He added a ring as Angels third base coach in 2002, and another two years ago with the Red Sox as Alex Cora's bench coach.

In both cases, he joined the celebration on the field, which he much preferred to his experience in 1984.

Jason Varitek's strikeout call as umpire in Red Sox scrimmage is fantastic

Jason Varitek's strikeout call as umpire in Red Sox scrimmage is fantastic

Jason Varitek may have found a new calling in calling batters out.

The former Red Sox catcher, whose official title with Boston is "Special Assistant/Catching Coach," moonlighted as the home-plate umpire in the team's intrasquad scrimmage Thursday at Fenway Park.

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But Varitek didn't just half-heartedly call balls and strikeouts. Nope, he was committed to the bit, dressing up in full umpire attire to stand behind the plate.

Oh, and his strikeout call was a thing of beauty:

Leslie Nielsen would be proud.

Varitek didn't go all-out for all of his strikeout calls, but he didn't hesitate to punch out Red Sox stars like J.D. Martinez.

Varitek got to know major league umpires very well during his 15-year playing career in Boston, so if anyone on the Red Sox' staff is qualified for this job, it's him.

Thursday marked the Sox' first simulated game action since they opened Training Camp at the beginning of the month. They're set to begin the shortened 2020 season July 24 with a home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Red Sox schedule 2021: Dates, opponents for 162-game season revealed

Red Sox schedule 2021: Dates, opponents for 162-game season revealed

Major League Baseball is looking ahead to (hopefully) brighter days.

The Red Sox don't begin their coronavirus-shortened 2020 season until July 24, but that didn't stop Boston and the rest of the league from unveiling their full schedules for the 2021 MLB season Thursday.

Here's the Red Sox' full 2021 schedule, which at the moment includes 162 games.

Boston will open the 2021 season against the Baltimore Orioles on April 1, 2021, at Fenway Park and play its first nine games against American League East opponents.

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The Red Sox' 2021 schedule also includes interleague matchups with the National League East, who they'll see plenty of this summer during their 60-game campaign.

The Sox don't face the New York Yankees until June 4 at Yankee Stadium but will play a total of 14 games against their archrival between June and July.

With COVID-19 still hitting the United States hard, it's much too early to tell if the 2021 season will start on time or if fans will be allowed at games. But at the very least, the league has a schedule in place should things drastically improve over the next seven months.