LAKE MARY, Fla. - Getting to the World Series isn’t easy. Winning one is even harder.
"This is the biggest stage that you can be on in professional sport. I just get chills, too. I love it now that fans are back in the stadium," Sanford native and former World Series MVP David Eckstein said.
The pressure to perform is at an all-time high when competing on the big stage. It’s something former Red Sox pitcher and Lake Mary resident Curtis Leskanic knows well.
"When you’re out there playing, it’s so loud. But when you start getting focused, after the first pitch, after the first inning, you start adapting to it’s just a regular baseball game," Leskanic said.
Leskanic won a World Series with Boston in 2004. But it was in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees where he shined.
It was Game 4, a tied ball game with the bases loaded and two outs.
Leskanic came in on the relief in the 11th inning and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings. The Red Sox won this game and the series, which sent them to the World Series
"Of course when you’re a kid, that’s all you think about… is that last-second shot. To be in that situation at that time was surreal," Leskanic said.
Leskanic and the Red Sox became heroes.
Years following that 2004 championship, he could hardly go anywhere without someone bringing it up.
"It’s amazing how people will open up their ears when they hear a professional athlete’s come in. Even more so with a professional athlete who has a World Series ring," Leskanic said.
Winning a World Series can boost a player’s profile with fans. It can also solidify legacies.
"There’s guys on both sides who really have Hall of Fame credentials. Sometimes a World Series can push you into that status," Leskanic said.