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Miles from Game 4, a city rejoices

Miles from Game 4, a city rejoices

BOSTON -- Police wore riot gear, clutching batons and riding horseback. Barricades prevented not just automobiles, but individual Red Sox fans from entering a two-block radius around Fenway Park.

The party went on.

Displaced but undeterred, a smattering of college-age students grew into a full-scale crowd in the parking lot of the Exxon Station on Park Drive and Boylston Street, two blocks south of Fenway Park.

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It all started around Paul Bedard, a rare senior in the crowd of youth who hand-cranked the radio broadcast of World Series Game 4.

"All right, this ... sucker's getting heavy," Bedard said, placing the radio in a shopping cart full of bags and bottles, then faithfully continuing to turn the motor. "Nobody steal this sucker. I'm going to do what I can and crank it up."

Soon, more fans gathered. Many had been turned away from the barricades by police. Bands of them roamed the area, seeking direction.

"We were trying to get over there, just to hang out outside of the sports bars and celebrate with everyone," said Ryan McGoldrick, 21, just one member of a cohort of college students who didn't experience the 2004 World Series as a student in Boston. "But, obviously, they're really cracking down. We probably just had 50 police walk by in full riot gear."

"I've never seen so many police in my life," said Will Daly, 21. "It looked like a scene out of the movie '300,' like when the bad guys are marching in."

Multiple helicopters soared overhead.

"Because we're about to win the World Series, baby," Daly yelled before the Red Sox completed a four-game World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies with Sunday night's 4-3 win.

Suddenly, Bedard's crowd rushed to the window of Exxon's TigerMart food store. The reason -- a small television, affixed to the far wall of the food store, played the FOX television broadcast of Game 4. From the gas station parking lot, the game was visible through a large window. People pressed against the glass; soon, a crowd of several dozen turned into a swarming throng, which spilled to the edges of the lot.

"We're doing it through convenience store windows and bar windows," said Kyle Ferguson, 18. "But look at this crowd of Red Sox faithful. We're faithful, even if we aren't at Fenway."

"I don't care where it is, as long as it happens," he added.

News cameras shot footage of the growing mass of people, which began to absorb parts of Brookline Avenue and Fenway's Landmark Center. Six helicopters flew in circles overhead.

The crowd chanted "Let's Go Red Sox!" and "Pap-el-bon!" before the bottom of the ninth inning. They reached a fever pitch as closer Jonathan Papelbon recorded the ninth inning's first two outs, 2,000 miles away.

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With the final out, they rushed into the streets, joining a larger contingent that had formed on Brookline. Several of them, including Val Cook, 21, and Kayla Gillespie, 22, carried brooms. It was all worth it, even if Fenway Park remained unreachable.

"We couldn't get on to Lansdowne Street," said Cook of the barricades.

The riot police began organizing as early as 10:25 p.m. ET, while Manny Delcarmen was pitching to the middle of the Rockies' batting order in the bottom of the sixth inning. A procession of police motorcycles -- 25, 30 and growing -- took positions in Kenmore Square. They parked in tight formation. Officers in riot gear marched up Commonwealth Avenue, while individual police officers began laying fences.

Down Beacon Street, close to the Brookline town line, cheerful fans lay in wait at O'Leary's Pub. They whooped when Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell hit a solo home run to start the seventh. Perfect strangers -- men and women, young and old, and entire families sitting before plates full of appetizers -- nodded their approval and shared their opinions.

"Re-sign him," bar regular "Airport" Dave Crisman, 68, said of Lowell, soon to be a free agent. "Re-sign him. You know? Because the guy's so great. He's great. Re-sign him. Go on. And give him the option. Two years plus an option."

Outside, a subway car rumbled by on the MBTA Green "C" Line. Down the tracks, back toward Kenmore, individual riot police began idling on street corners. A man wearing shorts (despite temperatures that threatened to drop into the 30s) crossed the intersection of Park Drive and Beacon Street.

"Looks like they're going to win it," he told a cop as he passed.

Inside An Tua Nua, an Irish pub on Beacon Street, a raucous clientele of young professionals and students sung loudly to "Sweet Caroline," snapped pictures of themselves and wore Red Sox T-shirts, jerseys and hats. Soon, the music faded and the patrons stopped singing so they could resume watching the FOX telecast.

Three young women -- Katie Hamond, 24; Elizabeth Norton, 24; and Betsy Pantazelos, 23 -- gazed up at a flat-screen television from their table. Respectively, they wore Curt Schilling's No. 38, Jason Varitek's No. 33 and a numberless Boston jersey.

Hamond, a New England native, traveled from the North Shore to watch with her friends.

"I came up tonight because I wanted to be in Boston for the fourth game," Hamond said. "I wasn't going to hang out at home."

Said Norton of the bar scene, "It's just like a big Red Sox Nation hug."

What's more, such displays cross boundaries, if not barricades. Pantazelos responded to an observation that is often taken for granted in Boston baseball circles -- the large number of women who participate, wearing Boston gear and rooting for the Red Sox.

"I think that's one thing that's great about baseball," Pantazelos said. "There really isn't a gender bias as much that you see in other sports. You look around, there's probably an equal ratio of men to women in the bar."

"I definitely know that all my girl friends are fans, as are my guy friends," she added. "I think it's just sort of so ingrained in the culture that you can't not be a fan."

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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