Well-traveled former Oriole Steve Pearce finds place as unlikely World Series MVP for Red Sox

Associated Press

For a dozen years, Steve Pearce was on the move. From Pittsburgh to Houston to every single team in the American League East, just looking for a spot where he could stick.

He finally found his permanent place — in Boston Red Sox lore.

The well-traveled Pearce — whose stops included Baltimore — wound up as the World Series Most Valuable Player 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.”

Pearce was a big part of the Orioles’ AL East-winning season in 2014, when he batted .293 with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs in a career-high 102 games.

The Orioles purchased Pearce from the New York Yankees in June 2012, then lost him on waivers to the Astros the next month before reclaiming him on waivers from the Yankees that September.

Pearce became a free agent in November 2015 and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays two months later before being traded back to the Orioles in August 2016 for Jonah Heim. He was granted free agency after that season.

He totaled five seasons for the Orioles, batting 255/.337/.473 with 46 home runs and 122 RBIs in 882 at-bats.

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.”

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.”

Traded from the Toronto Blue Jays 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. (He's the second player to win the award after playing games with multiple teams during the regular season, joining Donn Clendenon, whose New York Mets beat the Orioles in 1969.)

“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, the Orioles 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.”

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.

World Series MVPs

2018—Steve Pearce, Boston (AL)

2017—George Springer, Houston (AL)

2016—Ben Zobrist, Chicago (NL)

2015—Salvador Perez, Kansas City (AL)

2014—Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco (NL)

2013—David Ortiz, Boston (AL)

2012—Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco (NL)

2011—David Freese, St. Louis (NL)

2010—Edgar Renteria, San Francisco (NL)

2009—Hideki Matsui, New York (AL)

2008—Cole Hamels, Philadelphia (NL)

2007—Mike Lowell, Boston (AL)

2006—David Eckstein, St. Louis (NL)

2005—Jermaine Dye, Chicago (AL)

2004—Manny Ramirez, Boston (AL)

2003—Josh Beckett, Florida (NL)

2002—Troy Glaus, Anaheim (AL)

2001—Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, Arizona (NL)

2000—Derek Jeter, New York (AL)

1999—Mariano Rivera, New York (AL)

1998—Scott Brosius, New York (AL)

1997—Livan Hernandez, Florida (NL)

1996—John Wetteland, New York (AL)

1995—Tom Glavine, Atlanta (NL)

1994—No Series.

1993—Paul Molitor, Toronto (AL)

1992—Pat Borders, Toronto (AL)

1991—Jack Morris, Minnesota (AL)

1990—Jose Rijo, Cincinnati (NL)

1989—Dave Stewart, Oakland (AL)

1988—Orel Hershiser, Los Angeles (NL)

1987—Frank Viola, Minnesota (AL)

1986—Ray Knight, New York (NL)

1985—Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City (AL)

1984—Alan Trammell, Detroit (AL)

1983—Rick Dempsey, Baltimore (AL)

1982—Darrell Porter, St. Louis (NL)

1981—Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager, Los Angeles (NL)

1980—Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia (NL)

1979—Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh (NL)

1978—Bucky Dent, New York (AL)

1977—Reggie Jackson, New York (AL)

1976—Johnny Bench, Cincinnati (NL)

1975—Pete Rose, Cincinnati (NL)

1974—Rollie Fingers, Oakland (AL)

1973—Reggie Jackson, Oakland (AL)

1972—Gene Tenace, Oakland (AL)

1971—Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh (NL)

1970—Brooks Robinson, Baltimore (AL)

1969—Donn Clendenon, New York (NL)

1968—Mickey Lolich, Detroit (AL)

1967—Bob Gibson, St. Louis (NL)

1966—Frank Robinson, Baltimore (AL)

1965—Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles (NL)

1964—Bob Gibson, St. Louis (NL)

1963—Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles (NL)

1962—Ralph Terry, New York (AL)

1961—Whitey Ford, New York (AL)

1960—Bobby Richardson, New York (AL)

1959—Larry Sherry, Los Angeles (NL)

1958—Bob Turley, New York (AL)

1957—Lew Burdette, Milwaukee (NL)

1956—Don Larsen, New York (AL)

1955—Johnny Podres, Brooklyn (NL)

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