Memories come flooding back for Nixon


Memories come flooding back for Nixon

BOSTON Trot Nixon, the original dirt dog, was back at Fenway Park Monday afternoon as part of the Red Sox season-long celebration of Fenways 100th anniversary.

Nixon, who was there to recognize his walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS off the As Rich Harden, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to David Ortiz.

Great to be back, he said. A lot of emotions.

The emotions of that walk-off win quickly turned in the ALCS when the Sox lost in heart-breaking fashion to the Yankees.

A lot of memories, Nixon said. The biggest thing was winning that championship in 2004. I had plenty of time to be around fans in this area that felt like the organization was cursed and theyre never going to win a championship and to be able to come up out of those ashes and be able to win was awesome.

Nixon, the Sox No. 1 pick (seventh overall) in 1993 who turned 38 in April, hasnt played since 2008, 11 games with the Mets and their Triple-A team. His last big league game was June 28 that season, against the Yankees, when he went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.

These days hes staying close to home in North Carolina where he can coach his sons 11-year-old Chase and 7-year-old Luke. When they get a little older, hed like to think of a job in baseball.

There are plans to possibly bring a minor league team to his hometown of Wilmington, NC, and hed like to be a part of that. He has stayed involved with the Indians organization, where he played 99 games in 2007. He hasnt talked to the Sox about a job within the organization.

I havent pushed that envelope really. I think the biggest reason is I want to be where my boys are, he said.

It was good to see Johnny Pesky, who will be 93 in September, at Fenway on Monday, Nixon said.

It was great seeing him, Nixon said. When you think of Fenway you think of a lot of things. You think of the Pesky Pole. You think of Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, all those guys. So it meant a lot to me that he was able to be there.

He talked to his former teammate from the 2004 World Series team, Manny Ramirez, recently. Nixon said the thing most people didnt realize about Ramirez, who is in the minors working his way up to the As after serving his second suspension for violating baseballs PED policy, was how hard he worked.

Nixon, though, is content with where he is now.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.