2003 Boston Red Sox
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2003 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: September 25, 2003, vs. Baltimore Orioles
Managed by Grady Little
History, Comments, Contributions
The Texas rodeo phrase "Cowboy Up", loosely translated as "suck it up and get back on the saddle", became the unofficial rallying cry of the 2003 Boston Red Sox clubhouse, and was later picked up and used frequently by the Boston sports media and the Red Sox fan base, eventually becoming the de facto official slogan of the team. The term was introduced by first baseman Kevin Millar and (to a lesser extent) reliever Mike Timlin, both Texans. "Cowboy Up" is usually simply attributed to Kevin Millar as a player (Fenway Park crowds would chant "Cowboy up! Cowboy up!" during Millar's at-bats, regardless of the game situation, as the Red Sox made their playoff push, and Millar was sometimes referred to in the media and by fans as a "Cowboy"), though it also indirectly refers to the 2003 Red Sox' close-knit clubhouse camaraderie and their ability to pick each other up after losses, which was in no small part due to Millar's sunny demeanor and jolly antics. This clubhouse atmosphere was in sharp contrast to the "25 players, 25 cabs" Red Sox playoff teams in the past, such as the notorious 1986 team which infamously lost the 1986 World Series.
Red Sox Nation believed that this positive approach, coupled with exciting and suspenseful playoff wins (such as Trot Nixon's walk-off home run in Game 3 of the ALDS), was an indication that the Red Sox were going to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. However, The Red Sox ended up losing in 7 games to the New York Yankees in the ALCS on a crushing Game 7 extra-inning walk-off home run by Aaron Boone.
Poetically, the 2004 Red Sox would battle back to defeat the same Yankees in an seven-game ALCS rematch and sweep the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, thus embodying the true spirit of "Cowboy Up", a year after the tragedy of the 2003 ALCS. The "official" anthem of "Cowboy Up" is recognized as country singer Ryan Reynold's song  of the same name. The Red Sox, in conjunction with flagship cable channel NESN, released the DVD Cowboy Up!: The Wild Ride of the 2003 Boston Red Sox  that chronicled the 2003 season.
The 2003 Red Sox set the record for team slugging with .491, previously held by the "Murderers' Row" 1927 New York Yankees at .489. The team offense was indeed potent: 6 starters had at least a .500 slugging percentage, 6 had at least 25 home runs, 8 had at least 30 doubles, and 8 had at least 85 RBIs.
On May 15th, the Red Sox had a sell-out crowd at Fenway Park for a game started by Pedro Martinez against the Texas Rangers. It would be the first of 820 consecutive sell-outs at home, the record streak only ending on April 10, 2013.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Bill Mueller (3B) and Manny Ramirez (OF)
- Jimmy Golen Associated Press: "Red Sox clinch wild card in rout", Wilmington Star-News, September 25, 2003