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Papi 10 List, No. 1: Call it a comeback

Walk-off homer vs. Yankees sparks rally from 3-0 series deficit
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

In honor of David Ortiz having his No. 34 retired by the Red Sox, MLB.com and John Hancock are celebrating Big Papi's greatest career moments with the "Papi 10 List," counting down one legendary moment each day leading up to the pregame ceremony tonight at Fenway Park.

By the time David Ortiz retired, the Red Sox had raised three World Series banners at Fenway Park.

In honor of David Ortiz having his No. 34 retired by the Red Sox, MLB.com and John Hancock are celebrating Big Papi's greatest career moments with the "Papi 10 List," counting down one legendary moment each day leading up to the pregame ceremony tonight at Fenway Park.

By the time David Ortiz retired, the Red Sox had raised three World Series banners at Fenway Park.

But when the lefty slugger stepped to the plate a little after 1 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2004, Boson hadn't tasted a baseball championship since 1918.

The Fenway faithful didn't know how much more heartache it could take as the Red Sox trailed the Yankees, 3-0, in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

Papi 10 List: Ortiz's greatest moments

The fact that a humbling sweep could be coming just one year after Boston squandered a three-run lead at Yankee Stadium in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS made it seem all the more agonizing.

Ortiz, however, simply had enough by that point, and he wasn't going to take it any longer. Before getting his chance to turn the tide, Ortiz got a little help from his teammates.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox trailed, 4-3, against all-world closer Mariano Rivera. Kevin Millar walked. Dave Roberts came on as a pinch-runner and stole second. Bill Mueller belted a game-tying single to get Boston off the mat.

Three innings later, with the game still tied, Ortiz was facing Paul Quantrill. When a 2-1 front-door sinker darted toward his bat, Ortiz was waiting for it, and he walloped it.

The drive soared over Gary Sheffield and into the Yankees' bullpen in right field for a walk-off, two-run homer.

A gleeful Ortiz flipped his helmet off before he reached home plate and got mobbed by his teammates.

"Once I hit that ball and saw it going over the fence, I was so happy, because I knew we were going to get another opportunity," said Ortiz. "Nobody was crying anymore. The crowd was going crazy. We were still down, 3-1, but everything felt different."

In the coming weeks, Ortiz and the Red Sox would show everyone just how different.

The 2004 Red Sox never lost again. After becoming the first team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series, Boston swept the Cardinals in the World Series.

It's hard to look at Ortiz's drive against Quantrill as anything other than the turning point in that historic postseason.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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