How "The Red Sox Cop's" candid celebration helped a wounded city
Seniority had won veteran Officer Steve Horgan a prime detailing spot in Fenway Park: the bullpen
For Red Sox fans, he was a symbol of victory. For the city of Boston, he represented redemption. Officer Steve Horgan threw up his hands in triumph as David Ortiz rounded the bases after a grand slam that tied up the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS, just as the Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter’s legs flipped over the bullpen wall — and just like that, history was made.
The iconic photo of Officer Horgan’s celebratory pose mirrored by Hunter’s fall was everywhere — including the front page of the Boston Globe, courtesy of two-time Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Stan Grossfield. Overnight he went from a Boston police officer to “the Boston Cop,” “The Bullpen Cop,” and even the beloved “Red Sox Cop.”
Not unlike “the boots cop” from a year before, Horgan — a fairly private person, as cops tend to be — was suddenly thrust into the spotlight and bombarded by reporters and requests for live interviews.
How do you handle the press?
“Take your time,” advises Horgan, a now-seasoned public speaker. “Give yourself time to think before you answer any questions. I didn’t talk to anyone until I had a day to relax.”
Horgan also credited his family, friends, and department for their great support.
Horgan, a native of Boston and a 28-year veteran, had been doing detail in the ballpark for 20 years. This was his first season in the bullpen — a slightly less rowdy jurisdiction than other parts of Fenway. Over the course of the season, he became a familiar face to season ticket-holders and players alike as he stood as his post to keep an eye out for any objects being thrown onto the field.
He had no idea just how familiar a face his was about to become.
“As officers, we’re always aware that we’re on camera, but no, I had no idea that [moment] was on camera,” Horgan said.
Members of the media relations department for the Boston police prepared Horgan for his first formal interview — and the media circuit followed.
“It was scary,” he said. “I had never dealt with anything like that before, but media relations really talked me through it. My captain was fantastic about the whole thing.”
After the media frenzy started to die down, it was time for Horgan to really have his fun.
“John Henry asked me to join the players and the staff on the duck boats during the World Series parade, and that was a huge honor. I mean, he owns the Sox; to get an invitation like that from him; that was great,” Horgan said.
Horgan joined players Shane Victorino and David Ortiz, who shaved their playoff beards together at a fundraising event for the One Fund, which raised $100,000 for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Of course, the beard had become a trademark, so he grew it back in time for the Plymouth Thanksgiving Day parade, where he again was a guest of honor.
A tumultuous year for Boston
Having been marred by the devastating attack at the Boston Marathon’s finish line earlier this year, it only seemed right that a Boston first responder became a symbol of overcoming defeat for a city still recovering.
But don’t make that comparison to Horgan.
“I keep the two incidents completely separate,” he said. “It did help the city a lot, but those are wounds that will take a long time to heal.”
His fifteen minutes of fame aren’t up just yet. Horgan says he still can’t work a full hour without being stopped and asked to take a picture or throw his hands up in his now-trademark pose. But do you think he minds?
“Not at all,” says Horgan. “My arms will never get tired of doing that. It’s great getting so much positive attention — everyone has been really fantastic.”