They donned the championship T-shirts and caps, in their case, the ones that proclaimed them 2007 National League Wild Card winners. They sprayed champagne all over, and fans immediately ordered that same title gear at the MLB.com Shop.
The Padres, meanwhile, never received their own version of that gear -- which had been waiting in the visitors' clubhouse at Coors Field, just in case Holliday had been tagged out and San Diego had gone on to clinch. Instead of being worn by the likes of Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez, that clothing will be worn by people like those many thousands in Northern Ghana who just lost their homes due to flooding.
Sometimes in life, the celebration you see before your eyes isn't the only one worth celebrating. Sometimes losing even means winning. Sometimes the agony of defeat is tempered by an unseen act of goodwill.
Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that it is expanding its longstanding relationship with international relief organization World Vision by donating unsalable 2007 postseason MLB-licensed apparel -- like that Padres Wild Card gear -- to children and families in developing countries around the world.
MLB has previously worked with World Vision to donate counterfeit goods that have been confiscated by law enforcement. These efforts will continue during this postseason. After previously destroying any such celebration gear that had been made for teams that lost, this additional effort with World Vision simply helps more people.
As teams are eliminated during the 2007 postseason, an excess amount of inventory becomes available but is not salable. The same thing happened after the last Super Bowl, when World Vision was able to find needy use for all that Chicago Bears title gear that went for naught. MLB will work with many of its licensees to ship the losing teams' apparel to World Vision's Gifts-in-Kind Distribution Center in Pittsburgh. The goods will then be sorted and packaged for shipment to developing countries where World Vision has experienced staff and established product distribution networks. World Vision will ensure the items, which will be sent primarily to countries in Africa, are given to people in the greatest need.
"Baseball is a social institution with enormous social responsibilities and this is a tremendous opportunity for Major League Baseball to make an impact on the lives of those in need around the world," commissioner Bud Selig said. "We are pleased to work with World Vision, which brings more than 50 years of experience successfully assisting millions of people around the world."
The initial shipment of merchandise will go to the African country of Ghana, which has recently experienced devastating flooding caused by weeks of torrential rains and the spillage from the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso. Ghana's government reports that 592 communities have been affected by the floods, with more than 20,000 homes destroyed and 260,000 people displaced.
"I am gratified to learn about the partnership of Major League Baseball and World Vision to provide assistance to flood victims in Northern Ghana," said Pamela Bridgewater, U.S. ambassador to Ghana. "This action clearly demonstrates that governments, businesses, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens can work together to help those in need when natural disasters occur. The collective response of the international community to flood victims in Ghana has been encouraging."
World Vision will carefully monitor and track the unsalable postseason merchandise as it makes its way to the intended beneficiaries. World Vision's network and resources will offer a secure, turnkey process to effectively utilize excess inventory that might otherwise have been destroyed.
"The children and families we serve will take great joy in these goods, especially right now in Ghana, where thousands have lost their homes and what few possessions they had," said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. "World Vision thanks Major League Baseball and its partners for recognizing that even though these items are unsalable, they are of great value to many people in need around the world."
In the bleakest of times, what matters most is not whether you are wearing the same T-shirt that a Matt Holliday is wearing or one that a Trevor Hoffman is wearing. It's that you have any clothing to wear.
The Indians are on the brink of clinching the National League pennant, and that would mean donning the traditional celebration wear on the field and in the clubhouse immediately after the final out. It would mean that Red Sox Nation would be more visible in Africa, in the form of Boston/NL Champs title gear that never got to the players or their regular fans. The thrill of victory will always be there, but it is reassuring to know that the agony of defeat is not always what it used to be.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.