BANGOR, Maine — Droves of beaming Red Sox fans descended on the Cross Insurance Center on Sunday morning to pose for pictures with a triplet set of sterling silver and gold World Series trophies that visited Maine for the weekend.
Some had to get their glimpse from far away.
Robin Walsh of Gorham used a tablet to host a video chat with her husband of 22 years, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Walsh, who is deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.
He was deployed in the Middle East in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years and missed last year’s victory as well. In 2004, he didn’t have the technology available to chat with his family while they visited the trophy during its stops in Maine.
On Sunday, he watched on a computer more than 6,000 miles away as his family got up close and personal with the gleaming mementos of the Red Sox most recent triumphs. Trophies representing the Red Sox victories in 2004, 2007 and 2013 were on display.
The Walshes’ 21-year-old son, Michael, also is in the military, but was able to attend in person. He plans to graduate from the New England School of Communications later this year.
Members of the military got a special viewing at 9 a.m., an hour before the general public got the chance, as part of an event sponsored by Stephen and Tabitha King and Operation Community Support.
About 80 servicemen and servicewomen signed up for the honor, adding about 200 family members to the list, but the number of people who showed up early in the morning easily dwarfed those numbers.
More than 2,300 people turned out to see the trophies at the Cross Insurance Center, according to staffers.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who serves as a senior adviser for Red Sox ownership, attended the event along with former Maine Gov. John Baldacci, Red Sox officials and officials from Bangor and Brewer. Mascot Wally the Green Monster and UMaine’s Bananas T. Bear also garnered a lot of attention.
No players accompanied the trophy, but third base coach and Maine native Brian Butterfield tagged along and addressed the throngs of fans
“A lot of our nucleus is returning in 2014,” Butterfield said. “I plan on coming back here the same time next year with another trophy,” he added, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Jamie Poulin’s husband, Nicholas, of Gardiner has been deployed with the Army’s 133rd Engineering Battalion since October, she said. She used her phone to video chat with her husband in Afghanistan.
“He’s probably the biggest sports freak over there,” she said.
The couple’s three children — Ian, 4, Alexa, 11, and Ashlyn, 9 — climbed onto the stage with a cardboard cutout of their father and posed for a picture.
Afterward, they took a camouflage Red Sox hat to Wally the Green Monster and asked him to sign it for their dad.
Wally wrote, “Thank you for your service.”
Poulin said she hopes her husband can be here to see the trophies in person next time the Red Sox win one.
“It’s amazing the hold this team has on this whole region,” said Dick Flavin, the Red Sox unofficial poet laureate, as he looked at the crowd gathered in the Cross Insurance Center.
Asked what he thought of the beards Red Sox players rocked during much of the 2013 season, which brought them from worst to first in the league, Mitchell said he was all for “freedom.”
“I’m a great believer in individual choice and flexibility of an organization,” he said.
The trophies were on display at the Cross Insurance Center until noon, and then were taken to the University of Maine in Orono for an event inside Alfond Arena from 2 to 4 p.m.
The trophies are scheduled to head to Presque Isle for a stop on Wednesday, March 5.