There was much ado about the Boston Red Sox players’ eating and drinking habits in the wake of the team’s September meltdown two seasons ago.
But according to one former Sox star, 2011 was hardly the first time a little alcohol made its way into the Boston clubhouse — and in prior years it yielded positive, even curse-breaking, results.
Speaking to Sports on Earth at a legends game in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday, former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez recalled the team’s 2004 World Series run, which ended an 86-year title drought for the Sox and their fans.
Martinez told the site that before games, the players took a small shot of ‘Mama Juana,’ a concoction of roots and Latin rum. The tradition started, Martinez said, before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, which the Sox trailed 3-0 against the rival New York Yankees. The first to take the dive was Ellis Burks, who was not on the postseason roster.
“Ellis decided to taste it to see what it tastes like, then (Kevin) Millar wants to taste it and everybody wants to taste it so we all do it,” Martinez said. “And the hell with it. And we ended up winning.”
That epic 12-inning Red Sox win would end up sparking one of the most historic choke jobs in sports history, as they rallied to beat the Yankees in seven games. Boston then rode that momentum to the World Series, where it swept the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Everybody took a little bit from the top of the shot after we won the first game,” Martinez said. “… 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.”
Back in 2004, Millar appeared on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" and said that the team had shared a cup of Jack Daniel’s before their Game 6 win over New York. It’s unclear whether he was referring to the same drink as Martinez, but in either case, the players made sure to clarify that no one was playing under the influence.
"It was one of those group team things, like shaving our heads last year," Millar said at the time. "What we had was one small Gatorade cup, with a little Jack Daniel’s in it. We passed it around and everyone symbolically drank out of the same cup, because we are a team. It wasn’t as if guys were drunk."
Added Martinez on Saturday: “It wouldn’t get you drunk because it was just a little sip. But we did it.”