After too many disappointing Octobers, the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals (search) 3-0 Wednesday night to sweep the World Series (search) in four games, bringing the city its first title since 1918.
Several hundred fans welcomed players home to Fenway on a clear, chilly morning, watching as designated-hitter Ellis Burks (search) carried the championship trophy off the team bus.
"They've waited their entire lives, every year saying this is the year and meaning it, and this IS the year," team owner John Henry said.
Center fielder Johnny Damon (search) said players had a feeling they were going to make history. "We knew we were going to get the job done," he said.
Across New England, joyous fans popped champagne corks, hugged strangers and flooded streets and college campuses in celebrations that lasted into Thursday morning.
Tens of thousands of giddy fans gathered near Fenway to be near the historic stadium where so many of the team's previous tragedies have played out.
"It doesn't get better than this," said Eric Imhof, 23, of Boston. "And to be alive during this is one of the greatest things to happen to us, because you never know when it's going to happen again."
In Kenmore Square, one man got on his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, shouted "Thank you, God!" over and over above the din of the crowd.
Amid the jubilation, the city's two largest newspapers rolled out special editions, carrying single-word headlines to capture the historic moment.
The Boston Globe doubled its press run to more than 850,000 for Thursday. The third edition — dubbed a "victory edition" — was rolling shortly before 2 a.m. with the headline "YES!!!"
The Boston Herald doubled its press run to about 600,000 copies, adding an extra with the headline "AMEN!"
City officials said a victory parade most likely would be held Friday.
Police were out in full force, intent on avoiding the ugliness after the Game 7 win over the Yankees in the playoffs, when a college student was killed after police fired pepper-spray pellets. Some officers were in riot gear and gas masks, using percussion grenades and smoke canisters to clear the streets.
Police said 35 arrests were made, 14 revelers were taken to hospitals and 30 were treated at the scene. One officer was at Boston Medical Center with a shoulder injury.
University of Massachusetts Police made about 25 arrests during a celebration on the Amherst campus. There were no injuries reported there.
The heavy police presence didn't dampen the mood among fans.
Keith Lyons, 36, a Myrtle Beach, S.C., bar manager originally from Beverly, took the week off from work and drove north with his wife, Jessica, 29, just so he could be on Sox home turf to witness it all.
Lyons recalled getting out of school early to watch the one-game division playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees in 1978.
"When Bucky Dent hit that home run, I wanted to leave the room. But my mother said, 'You can't be a fair-weather fan.' From that point on, I knew what it was like to be a Red Sox fan," he said.
In 1986, the last time the Red Sox were in a World Series, he made sure to have a bottle of champagne chilling for what he thought would be a victory over the New York Mets. He still has the same bottle.
"The champagne is sitting in my hotel room cooling for the first time since 1986," he said. "I really don't care how it tastes."