T HE W ILL T O W IN

When you put great teams to the test, most often they will win. When you test great players, they too will win more often than not. This was the story of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. America's Sports Artist. Rick Rush, has captured their historic moment in his painting entitled. The Will to Win.

These players came to play baseball for the Red Sox nation and not surrender to the "curse of the bambino". A family whose extended family reaches all over New England, coast to coast across America, and back over time to the glory years of Boston Red Sox baseball.

The heavy shadows of Boston's past didn't faze this group of players who bonded together as a family. They became warriors on the baseball diamond, relentless in scoring runs and stingy in giving them up to opponents. In each game, a different warrior rose up and the team would ride their efforts to victory. This family of players overcame obstacle after obstacle in establishing themselves as immortals in Boston Red Sox history and erasing the years of agony of the curse. Not only did they play. but they also reset a long list of records in the process. For instance, no team in the Championship Series had ever been losing three games to none. and come back to force a game seven and win. From one big game to another, including the longest game ever played, they had the will to win. No team had ever won 8 playoff games in a row until now. They took 4 straight games from the Cardinals, sweeping them for the World Series title, something no Boston team had ever accomplished.

Boston is the birthplace of the World Series, with the great Cy Young pitching the first game of the first world series ever played in 1903. Teams from Boston won five of the first fifteen World Series' ever played with the great Babe Ruth being part of that effort. The rich history of the Red Sox glory years was only upstaged by the 86 straight years of futile attempts at regaining the World Series crown.

In game one of the 2004 World Series this team set a World Series record. Tim Wakefield. the first knuckle'ball pitcher since 1948, started as pitcher. The Red Sox scored the most runs ever in the first game of the World Series, winning 11-9. In the second World Series game Kurt Schilling was called on for the start. Despite an injury to ankle tendons that was to take him completely out of the series playoffs the warrior in Schilling came to the surface and he took the ball for game two. With a blood stained sock Schilling pitched and the Sox won again. So Schilling willed his way to victory and became the only pitcher in history to win a World Series title with three different teams. Game 3 and game 4 were played in St. Louis where the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series and set their fans free to celebrate.

As this family of players willed their way to the 2004 World Series title, a variety of players made huge contributions to their winning effort. From left to right in the painting is Manny Remirez who was voted the World Series Most Valuable player and tied the record for the longest hitting streak in 17 straight playoff games. He also became the second player to hit a homerun and have an assist in the same inning of a World Series game. Shown in his position as catcher. Jason Varitek was named Team Captain. The focal point of the painting is Curt Schilling who was the winning pitcher in game two and a major force on this team. Shown sliding is Johnny Damon who made major contributions throughout the year. Next is David "Big Papi" Ortez who also tied a post-season record with 19 RBl's in the 2004 playoffs. In Rick Rush's work, The Will to Win, this Red Sox baseball family is portrayed against the historic backdrop of the green monster as it reveals the box score from Schilling's fabulous World Series game two. Also superimposed into the green monster are 6 of the great players from previous glory years of the Red Sox. The players are Cy Young. Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski. and Carlton Fisk. These hall of fame players are interwoven into the St. Louis arch and Busch stadium arches where the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series Championship.

This family of players was tested time after time in the 2004 season and came up victorious. They began as a wild card berth but had the will to fight their way through the playoffs winning 4 straight games from their archrival New York Yankees. They then swept 4 games from the St. Louis Cardinals to capture the World Series. Great teams and great players that face competitive tests will often win. These Red Sox players faced the competition with the joy of baseball, love for each other, and the will to win. and it led them to the pinnacle of Major League Baseball. The World Series Champions.