Roberts' swipe of second base allowed him to score the game-tying run before the Red Sox ultimately won in extra innings and changed the entire series that led to Boston’s first World Series championship in 86 years.
So the Red Sox understand the importance of having a bench player who possesses speed for that very reason. Enter Quintin Berry. The Red Sox recently acquired the speedy outfielder from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitcher Clayton Mortensen.
After spending two days with Triple-A Pawtucket, Berry was added to the 40-man roster and joined the Red Sox on Sunday.
“I know a little bit about him,” Berry said with a smile when asked about Roberts and his contributions. “My agent called me and told me that’s what they’re looking for. That’s a high pedestal, but I’m up for this challenge.”
Berry was only a teenager when Roberts made history in 2004.
“It changed the whole game off of one move. That’s the thing that’s so exciting about being a guy to come off the bench and base run -- you can change the game,” he said. “Everybody’s on the edge of their seat, waiting for you to do it and I just hope I don’t let anybody down.”
Berry spent the majority of the 2013 season at Triple A, splitting time between Kansas City’s affiliate in Omaha, and the Detroit Tiger’s team in Toledo. He’s 30-for-34 in stolen base attempts this season.
Berry made his major league debut with the Tigers in 2012 and was successful in all 21 stolen base attempts.
“We set out to find that type of player and Quintin is someone who has had a long track record in the minor leagues as a successful base stealer,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Even for the opportunity at the big league level, the success rate is probably as good as it gets, I think it’s 20 stolen bases, zero caught. He fills a specific need in that role for us.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” Berry said. “I can’t believe I’m getting a chance to come here and trying to help this team that’s in first place, on a roll and playing great baseball. I’ll try to help as much as I can.”
“I’m excited they think so highly of me that I can get on these basepaths and try to get an extra bag for them, or move up and try to steal these bases and score runs for this team. I’m pumped to do it and I’m looking forward to it.”
During his brief stint with the PawSox, Berry’s speed proved crucial and helped Pawtucket clinch the IL North division title when he scored the game-winning run in a 2-1 win over Syracuse Friday night at McCoy Stadium. In the ninth inning, he stole second and then scored on a shallow base hit to center field by Justin Henry.
“It was awesome,” Berry said. “To get an opportunity to try to steal that base was a good leap going forward to come here. Man, it was fun. It was fun getting there for two days and jumping around and spraying champagne bottles all over everybody like I’ve been there all year. It was pretty cool.”