ST. LOUIS — When the Boston Red Sox's 3-1 victory in Game 5 of the World Series was finished and the team was filing back into the clubhouse, David Ross got the cherry on top of his big night, which already included the game's go-ahead RBI.
He was going to the interview room, a team official told him. Ross perked up a bit.
Going to he interview room means you did well. It means you were a star of the game. It means, if you're somebody like Ross, that people in your family should set their DVRs.
David Ross doesn't usually go to the interview room. He's a 36-year-old journeyman catcher with a gray beard who has played for six teams in 12 years. He's a career .237 hitter playing in his first World Series. He's also the guy who hooked a 1-2 curveball from Adam Wainwright down the left-field in the seventh inning. It bounced inside the chalk and into the stands. Xander Bogaerts scored, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Ross hesitated a split second before he started running. He was probably looking to make sure it was going fair. But if you're one of those people who roots for the underdogs or the important cogs that make a team go but don't always get the credit, then maybe you'll see that as Ross getting an extra tick to cherish his World Series moment.
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"I'm just in awe of being in the World Series, really. I'm on the podium, again, talking to you guys, with the whole World Series thing behind me, right?" Ross said, referring to the backdrop adorned with World Series logos that you've probably seen on MLB Network. "That's when you see people on TV. I'm stoked."Jon Lester pitched the team to victory like he also did Monday night, Ross was holding court with reporters in the clubhouse as he often does. He's a smart, earnest guy with a good sense of humor. He's been known to deliver a good quote, even when he's not the story.
Lester was the story that night. But Ross joked, "lets' talk about me a little bit more." Monday night, he got his wish. Jon Lester even came to the interview room at one point and sat next to him. "Can I sit up here while he's up here?'' Ross asked.
As Ross answered questions, sandwiched between TV cameras and the World Series logos, he admitted finding that signature moment in his World Series hadn't sunk in yet.
What kid growing up playing baseball didn't narrate their own pretend World Series-winning hit? But this was real. And it was sweeter because he overcame problems this season that weren't pretend at all. In fact, Ross thought his career might be over after two concussions.
Ross signed with the Red Sox this offseason after playing four years with the Atlanta Braves. He never caught more than 62 games in Atlanta, and with Boston he'd be splitting time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
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Turned out he'd miss a lot of time. There was one concussion in May and another in June, both after foul tips hit off his face mask. They caused him to miss two weeks in May, then two months between June and August.
"As athletes we feel like we can get through anything, and I couldn't," Ross said Monday night. "I stunk for a good two weeks, three weeks, and my wife finally was like, 'If you don't tell the doctors, I'm going to' ... I looked fine, but I wasn't right. It's hard to look your teammates in the eye when you're going through something like that.
"The trip I've taken this year, I never thought I'd be here."
Here. The World Series. With the game-winning hit. In the interview room.
The team bus was waiting outside. The Red Sox were getting on a plane and going back to Boston, one win a way from a World Series title. There would be three more questions, it was announced to the room. Ross balked.
"I'll stay here all night," he said. "They'll hold that plane, I promise."
He was soaking up every second of his World Series moment. And deservedly so.
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