First Person October: Josh Beckett

Editor's Note: Wondering what Josh Beckett thinks in October? Diehard subscribers found out in the November issue, when Beckett joined Curt Schilling, David Ortiz and Mike Timlin in discussing why they have thrived in the playoffs. We hope you enjoy this free preview. To read the entire piece, subscribe to Diehard now by clicking the link at the end of this story!

"It was everybody out in the clubhouse partying and stuff and I was in the back drinking a beer."

Upon being drafted second overall by the Marlins in 1999, 19-year-old Josh Beckett said he wanted to be better than fellow Texas fireballers Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. It took him just four years to live up to his own hype. Pitching on three days rest in Yankee Stadium, Beckett clinched the 2003 World Series for the Marlins by tossing a five-hit shutout in Game Six. He also threw a two-hit shutout in Game Five of the NLCS to allow the Marlins to stave off elimination and tossed four one-hit innings of relief to help the Marlins win Game Seven three days later. The one-time phenom will get a chance to continue his metamorphosis into an ace this fall, when he will likely be the no. 1 starter for the Sox.

We went in on such a high note—we weren't supposed to even get past the first round. And once we did that, it was kind of like—not that we relaxed, but it was kind of like, hey we've already done something here. You've just got to go out and continue to do what you did during the season. In that season we had to continue what we did during the second half and not what we did in the first half. We just had a blast doing it.

And I think that that's one thing that you definitely have to do in the playoffs. Most people don't get to play for the Red Sox or the Yankees or the L.A. Angels. They don't get a chance to do that too many times in their career. For me, you've got to get in there, have fun and obviously try and do the best you can. Not try and do too much, because people [who] get there [and] try and do too much are usually the ones that end up struggling.

I'm an anxiety guy anyway, you know? I'm just usually ready for it to get going.

[In Game Seven of the 2003 NLCS], that was one of those deals where I was up and I was only supposed to throw an inning or two and I felt so good that Jack [McKeon] just kept me out there for, I think, four innings. And I gave up one hit. It was a home run to Troy O'Leary.

[In Game Six of the World Series], I was so young. I just wanted to go out and do my job, keep my team in the game. I knew that we had a great team, and that if I kept us in the game, we had a really good chance of winning.

I've always had this thought: My ball, my chance to execute pitches until the game's over or somebody takes the ball out of my hand. I was out there until somebody took the ball out of my hand or the game was over.

Three up and three down [ninth] inning. I remember that. It was fun, you know? I threw that changeup to [Jorge] Posada and he rolled over it and I saw it maybe going foul and I ran over as quick as I could and I just tagged him with it. I knew it was a fair ball once I tagged him. I was just holding it up like ‘I still have the ball. We just won the World Series.'

I was excited, but I was so tired that I really almost didn't get to relish in what we had just done. I remember I sat in the back room at Yankee Stadium until they kicked us out. And I just sat back there, by myself basically. Guys [were] coming back there and saying what's up, but really, it was everybody out in the clubhouse partying and stuff and I was in the back drinking a beer.

I don't know about [feeling more] confident, but I know that I have something that nobody will ever take away from me, and that's a World Series ring with a bunch of great guys. And obviously I'd like to do that again. But it's definitely something that nobody can ever take away from me.

I haven't thought that far ahead [to this October], I really haven't. I know that everybody likes to write that we think that way anyway, but I really haven't. I take it a day at a time. I can't start worrying about that stuff yet. We're not even there yet.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE.

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