The Lowell Spinners are bringing a little bit of Red Sox-Yankees playoff history to their playing field thanks to the purchase of a base that was once at the center of a big-time controversy.
Their season not yet underway, the Lowell Spinners, single A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, don’t even have a first baseman yet. But they do have a fairly famous first base.
The Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox announced Tuesday it went to the memorabilia market to purchase the first base that was used at Yankee Stadium for Game 6 of the 2004 AL championship series.
In the game, New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez was called for interference after slapping the ball away from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo in a crucial play at first. Boston went on to win the series in seven games and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series to end an 86-year championship drought.
The Spinners won’t be putting the base in a glass-enclosed case. They plan to use it this season.
"The Slap was a defining moment of the ALCS," Spinners general manager Tim Bawmann said. "It’s a privilege for the Lowell Spinners to present this piece of Red Sox history to our fans as an interactive exhibit during Spinners games."
A Spinners spokesman declined to say how much the team paid for the base, except to say that it was significant. Bawman said he was not worried about using the valuable artifact.
"As every baseball fan knows," he said, "you can’t steal first base."
A short-season farm club populated largely with recent draft picks, Lowell has sold out every game since Aug. 2, 1999, thanks in part to promotions like a Jack Kerouac bobble-head, the world’s largest game of "Duck, Duck, Goose," and "Birth Night" in which pregnant women competed for a year’s supply of diapers.
Over the past two years, the Spinners have spent more than $40,000 donating equipment to local youth leagues willing to name teams after the Lowell club instead of the Yankees.