Well-traveled Pearce finds a place _ as World Series MVP
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For a dozen years, Steve Pearce was on the move. From Pittsburgh to Houston to every single team in the AL East, just looking for a spot where he could stick.
He finally found his permanent place — in Red Sox lore.
The well-traveled Pearce wound up as the World Series MVP on Sunday night after hitting two home runs that sent Boston over the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 5.
“Baseball’s a funny game,” he said. “The longer you stay in the game, great things can happen.”
For a guy who just kept on truckin’ around the majors, he now has something shiny to show for it — a bright red truck, presented to him on the infield dirt as a most unlikely MVP.
“You never know where the game will take you,” he said. “And I’ve gone through a lot in my life or in my career to be here, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”
“This has been a lifelong journey,” he said.
Hundreds of Red Sox fans in the stands at Dodger Stadium chanted “MVP! MVP!” Later, he strolled hand-in-hand with his 6-year-old daughter Jensen behind home plate.
“This is the greatest feeling of my life. When you’re a kid, this is where you want to be. And it’s happening right now,” Pearce said. “This is a great moment. I’m so glad I get to share it with everybody.”
“I’m in a dream right now,” he said.
Traded from Toronto to the Red Sox in late June, the 35-year-old delivered the key hits in two straight games against the Dodgers.
On Saturday, he launched a tying home run in the eighth inning, then added a three-run double in the ninth that sent Boston to a 9-6 win.
Pearce got the Red Sox rolling in the clincher, connecting for a two-run homer off Clayton Kershaw in the first inning. He capped his October spree with a solo drive off Pedro Baez in the eighth.
Overall, the first baseman went 4 for 12 and drove in eight runs.
Pretty good production for someone acquired in midseason for a minor league infielder. He played 50 games after the trade — he became the first position player to win a World Series MVP while playing 50 or fewer games for the winning team in his career, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
“This has been the funnest year of my life,” Pearce said on the field.
Pearce joined Babe Ruth and Ted Kluszewski as the only players 35 or older with multiple-homer games in a World Series.
He’s always had a reputation as a solid hitter, although mostly against left-handed pitchers. The righty swinger batted .279 with seven homers and 26 RBIs while splitting time at first with Mitch Moreland.
Pearce was an instant hit with Boston, stroking a double against CC Sabathia at Yankee Stadium on the first pitch he saw after the deal. Later, he hit three home runs in a game against the Yankees at Fenway Park.
A career .257 hitter in the majors, Pearce was solid in college, helping South Carolina reach the semifinals of the 2004 College World Series. Drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round, he instead chose to stay in school and chase a title.
After South Carolina lost in the 2005 regional finals, he was picked in the eighth round and signed with Pittsburgh. He later played with Tampa Bay, Baltimore and the Yankees, along with Houston and Toronto before going to Boston.
“That was the key, too, June 28th,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We were looking for complement for Mitch.”
“And he’s been great, not only on the field but in the clubhouse. He’s been a great teammate. Veteran guy. He’s been through a lot,” he said.
Red Sox ace Chris Sale echoed that sentiment for someone he’s known since he grew up in Florida.
“He did it. He’s a gamer. He’s a grinder. He lives for moments like this,” Sale said. “It’s a special moment for me and him. We grew up a quarter of a mile from each other. I grew up playing Little League with his youngest brother.”
Pearce got a $50,000 bonus in his contract for winning the award. Without a deal signed for next season, he’ll have to wait to see whether he’s also earned a future spot on the roster — naturally, he wants to keep playing in New England.
“I would definitely love it. We’re world champions. To be able to be open up next season at Fenway Park with the ring ceremony and everything that goes along with it and to drop the banner for the 2018 world champions, that would definitely — I would love that,” he said.