As I was thinking about some of the greatest baseball songs of all-time (John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” wins hands down), I thought about the Red Sox fight song, Tessie. The song was such an integral part of their success in 2004, I wanted to learn more.
The 2004 American League Championship Series is the greatest postseason story in the history of baseball. No arguments, no questions, no maybes. It just is. No team had ever come back from 3-0 to win a best of seven play-off series. More so, no team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit while trailing in the bottom of the ninth of game four. Dave Robert’s stolen base, David Ortiz’s heroics in extra innings, and Curt Schilling’s bloody sock are indelible images burned into the minds of every baseball fan in America. Combine that with the 86 year championship drought the Red Sox were faced with, and no story can ever top this one.
Well, Red Sox fans have the Dropkick Murphys to thank. However, that story really begins in 1902.
The song Tessie, sung by Dropkick Murphys during the 2004 World Series run for the Sox, originated in the 1902 Broadway play “The Silver Slipper.” At that time, the song was called You Are The Only, Only, Only. A far cry from its use as a rallying cry for the Red Sox Nation, the song was about a woman singing to her parakeet.
The Boston Pilgrims, who would later become the Red Sox, were heading into a best-of-nine series against the Pittsburgh Pirates to decide the first ever World Series. In anticipation and support of their beloved Pilgrims, a rowdy bunch called the Royal Rooters adopted “Tessie” as their anthem.
The Royal Rooters were a group of baseball-loving Irishmen led in part by JFK’s grandfather and Boston mayor John Fitzgerald. They cheered their team to success while singing “Tessie” from the stands. With the Royal Rooters at their back, the Pilgrims won the series five games to three.
The team went on to win five World Series between 1903 and 1918. Then, just as quickly as the magic began, Tessie was gone. The Royal Rooters disbanded and the sounds of Tessie were no more.
The Red Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2004. Is it coincidence this was the year Dropkick Murphys re-made “Tessie?”
The very anthem that had carried the Sox to five titles had haunted them in its absence. With its revival came postseason success. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, and they are no longer buried beneath curses and failed expectations.
I am far from being a member of Red Sox Nation, but love a good baseball story. I will be able to tell my son that I watched the greatest comeback in sports history unfold live. So count me as a fan of Dropkick Murphys, because Tessie, I couldn’t live without ya!