LISBON, Maine — Ginny Tardiff had no trouble staying awake Wednesday night to watch the Red Sox win the World Series. At 99, the ardent fan stayed glued to her television, “on the edge until they brought in the relievers.”
Then, she said Thursday, she just clapped and yelled as the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in game six to wrap up the team’s third World Series in 10 years — and their first one at home since 1918. It’s been a late-life Bosox bonanza for Tardiff, who endured 86 years — from the time she was 4 until she turned 90 — without seeing her beloved team win a World Series.
Tardiff, who turned 99 on Sept. 30 and has followed the Red Sox tribulations for decades, didn’t miss a play.
“When the bases were loaded [in the top of the seventh inning], I thought, ‘Oh no, here it goes,’ because the pitcher [John Lackey] was getting tired,” she said. “I thought, ‘Gee whiz, there are two out. It will only take one slip.”
Then relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa came in, “and he got that last one, I said, ‘Phew,’” Tardiff said.
Closer Koji Uehara, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, is “a treasure,” Tardiff said. “They better hang on to him … when he throws a pitch, he hits the nail right on the head.”
Of right fielder Shane Victorino, who hit a three-run double in the third inning, she said, “He’s something too. He came through quite a few times for the Red Sox.”
Just after 11 p.m., Tardiff’s phone began to ring. The first call was from her grandson, Aaron, calling from a Boston sports bar.
“I could hear them celebrating,” Tardiff said.
It was one of many phone calls and visits Wednesday as Tardiff’s family and friends — some who she hadn’t seen in years — read in Maine newspapers about how she was gearing up for a Fenway clincher, and stopped by to share in her excitement about Wednesday night’s game.
Tardiff has cheered the Red Sox for decades, as she raised her seven children and worked as postmaster in Lisbon, she told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday. She was finally rewarded when the Sox beat the Cardinals in St. Louis to win the World Series in 2004 and then again in 2007 when they beat the Colorado Rockies in Denver.
While relishing this year’s championship, Tardiff also offered some advice to Red Sox management as the team looks to defend its title. She believes the team should go all out to re-sign center fielder and leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, who is a free agent this offseason and may have played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.
“Why would they let him go?” she wondered.
She also had a suggestion for Jonny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia, MIke Napoli and the team’s other hirsute heroes whose chin whiskers inspired a “Fear the Beard” mentality during the season and, especially, the playoffs: “Those beards,” she said. “They looked dirty. Of course, they kept them neat … I wonder if they shaved. Probably not last night.”