Aboard a duck with the world champs - Soundings Online

Aboard a duck with the world champs

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Driver of amphibious vessel has a front row seat as Red Sox fans flock to welcome home their team

Driver of amphibious vessel has a front row seat as Red Sox fans flock to welcome home their team

Game Four of the World Series ended just like that. It was hard to comprehend that the Boston Red Sox were the World Champions of baseball after an 86-year period of heartbreaks and letdowns. But there they were, hosing each other down with champagne, goofing around, and acting like world-class idiots. And then there was the trophy …

It became a bit more real to me the next morning when my boss, Phil Young, called me. I drive an amphibious duck boat for Boston Duck Tours. My boss told me that I was number six in seniority to get to drive a duck in the Red Sox victory parade. Let me just check my schedule.

That night, shortly after dark, they opened the big door at Fenway Park’s Gate C. We drove through the commissary area, usually seen packed with hot dog-chomping, beer-guzzling Sox fanatics, now dark and deserted. We continued into the immediate high-voltage glare of centerfield. We were directed into a line around the dirt track that surrounds the outfield. It was a surreal sight. Seventeen World War II vintage amphibious landing craft painted all different colors and parked all the way around the inside walls of “The Temple.”

The idiocy was contagious among my fellow drivers and me. They allowed us to goof around in the outfield by mugging for photos in front of the scoreboard, or just wander around muttering, mouths agape in awe. Already the technicians were working on the ducks as they ran us out with orders to be back at the crack of dawn.

We were ushered in early the next morning, and as the sky lightened it became apparent this was going to be a damp affair. But as we checked our ducks festooned with sponsor banners, armed with confetti cannons and equipped with loudspeaker hailing systems, we knew it was going to take more than a little New England drizzle to rain on this parade.

The ceremony began at 9 a.m. under a huge tarp on the infield. The Sox owners grinned and “the boys” came up one at a time and said a few words while fondling the hardware. Then it was time to get on the ducks.

We hit the street with the team, the crews, the managers, the families and the security team all jamming and waving from the sides and back decks of the ducks. I had the owners John Henry, Larry Luciano, Tom Werner and their families on my duck. I also had the trophy.

As we made our way through the city there were people lined up 20 feet deep on both sides, all yelling, cheering, chanting, ranting, waving, smiling, flagging with signs of all sorts — from wedding proposals to suggestions as to what Jeter was doing with his time off. There were people on the roofs, hanging out of windows, perched in the trees. The interaction between the players and their fans was electrifying. It seemed the whole population was a foot off the ground.

Over the five-mile parade course the human sea parted only enough to allow the passage of the ducks. The noise came to a crescendo as we passed the Boston Common in a blizzard of confetti, and made our way down to the Charles River.

On the ramp we engaged our propellers and rolled on in. We drove up the Boston side and down the Cambridge side. The Red Sox Nation was packed along the floating docks, which were nearly under water. The ramps for foot traffic, the bridges, the Esplanade, the Hatch Shell, the abutments were all packed with the faithful waiting for their chance to see the boys and their prize motoring by.

And all along the way the song of the day from millions of thankful Sox fans in a voice that could probably be heard in the Bronx: “Well I love that dirty watah, Boston you’re my home.”