BOSTON—The Boston Red Sox, who have failed to win a single World Series since the departure of relief pitcher Curtis Leskanic in 2004, are attempting to defy the odds and do the impossible: reverse the curse of the journeyman reliever whose ghost has haunted this team since the mid-2000s.
Pitted against the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 Fall Classic, the team that for two long years seemed like it might be destined to lose forever has a chance to finally put an end to its 36-month-long World Series drought. However, the Red Sox must first overcome the famed Curse of Curtis Leskanic, which caused medium-to-long-suffering fans much anguish and heartache during the period between 2005 and 2006.
"It will take a miracle for the Sox to win the World Series as long as the spirit of Leskanic has anything to say about it," wrote Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who coined the phrase "Curse Of The Former Red Sox Relief Pitcher Curtis Leskanic" in March of 2005, when an error by shortstop Edgar Renteria allowed the Devil Rays to defeat the Red Sox 7-4 in a spring training game. "This curse will play a huge part in this series. Every home run that curves just foul, every dropped fly ball, every bad hop, every blown call—Curtis Leskanic will be there."
Leskanic, a right-handed set-up man acquired by the Red Sox halfway through the 2004 season, pitched nearly 28 innings for the team from July to September, and was present as Boston defeated the Yankees in the ALCS and went on the win the World Series. However, as legend has it, the Red Sox refused to offer him a contract extension, despite the fact that he was coming off a 3-5 season with a 5.19 ERA and 37 strikeouts. Leskanic, unable to find work in the major leagues, retired—and the rest is history. Since then, the Florida Little League team that Leskanic went on to coach has enjoyed unprecedented success, winning the Lake County Round Robin two years in a row and going undefeated in 2006.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have made it to the playoffs just twice since 2004.
"I don't usually believe in 'curses,' but how else do you explain the Red Sox's early elimination from the 2005 Division Series, or their five-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees last August, or the fact that they didn't even make the playoffs in 2006?" said longtime Red Sox fan Gary Everett. "No team is that unlucky."
"We never should've gotten rid of Leskanic," Everett added. "Just think of how many more rings we'd have now."
"When [White Sox outfielder Scott] Podsednik hit that home run in Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS, all I could think was, 'Damn you, Leskanic!'" said Allston, MA resident Terry Bresler. "But if the Sox can beat the Rockies this year, I might be able to finally forgive Tony Graffanino for that error he made in Game 2 of that series."
In an interesting twist of fate, to end the curse, the Red Sox must first beat the Rockies, the team with which Leskanic began his career in 1993. Many fans believe destiny brought these two teams together—that it is only fitting that the Red Sox must exorcise the demons of their recent past against the very team with which Leskanic enjoyed his greatest success, including his 7-5, 6.23 ERA season in 1996 and his 1-1 effort in 1994.
"Ending the curse against the Rockies will just make it that much sweeter," said Boston resident Terry McMahon. "Not even Curtis Leskanic can stop this team!"
"I just pray that my son can see the Sox win at least one World Series in his lifetime," said Boston resident Sal Fischer of his son Cody, 2.
Many Red Sox fans believe the Curse of Curtis Leskanic was already broken this June when two diehard Red Sox fans traveled to Leskanic's childhood home in Homestead, PA and burned it to the ground, while others think the curse was lifted in August when the Red Sox won three games in a row. Still others believe that the ghost of Leskanic was expelled from Boston in April, when Jimmy Buffett played to a sold-out crowd at Fenway Park; Leskanic was known for not being that into Jimmy Buffett.
Curtis Leskanic currently resides in Orlando, FL with his family, and works as a pro scouting consultant in the Red Sox organization. When reached for comment, he wished the Red Sox the best of luck.