A Red Sox win? Break out the feather boa, whistles, strobe lights, and gem-encrusted mask

BOSTON — There’s a yellow feathered boa and a silver, gem-embellished eye mask hanging on a hook in John Schreiber’s locker just inside the door of the Red Sox clubhouse.

Peek across the room – and watch carefully – you might notice the strobe light mounted on the wall below a TV where the players do their post-match interviews. (It’s disabled as these interviews air on NESN.)

Sometimes a fake $100 bill from a set of plastic money guns was left on the floor, blending into the carpet. And a few weeks ago, a box of whistles sat on a sofa near the players’ lockers.

These weird phenomena are all connected: They’re all set pieces used in an elaborate post-game celebration after the Red Sox win, centered on Schreiber, the 28-year-old reliever journeyman who found his groove in Boston this season. Standing outside the Red Sox clubhouse after the wins, all passers-by can hear a whole commotion with cheers and shouts, whistles and horns.

“It’s quite special,” said Kiké Hernández. “I would say anyone who isn’t in this clubhouse after games, after Ws, is missing out on a hell of a performance that deserves to have their own Vegas tour.”

“It’s like a dance party,” Kevin Plawecki said.

“Every ‘W’, all eyes are on Schreiber,” said Alex Verdugo.

“There’s a bit of dancing, a lot of drama and props,” Schreiber said. “All that stuff, so it’s kind of fun.”

The Red Sox are silent on the specific details of this postgame performance, but make no mistake, everyone is involved. The boa and mask appeared in Schreiber’s locker one day. Rumor has it that Rich Hill went to Party City for the attire. Plawecki added vuvuzelas. Manager Alex Cora provided the money guns. Schreiber’s moves are a big part of the fun, but the point of it all is to celebrate and recognize the players who had the biggest impact on the club’s victory that day.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hill said. “We come together as a team, obviously winning helps a lot, and being able to come together as a team is something that everywhere I’ve been has always been a post-game celebration. Just trying to highlight some big plays of the day or some of the big shots that the guys got and some of the throwing performances on the mound so that’s what we’re trying to do, try to shed some light to everyone and enjoy it together as a team.”

In the midst of a long season, which started off on the wrong foot with losses piling up quickly at the start, the Red Sox aren’t taking any of those wins for granted.

“(I’m glad) we got something after winning football games because a lot of good teams have their thing after games, and we really had nothing before Schreiber joined the team,” said Hernandez. “It helps us vibrate as a team and helps us come together and you always need those guys that are in quotes ‘the glue’. I would say he does a great job of being one of those guys and everything what a team can do to come together and enjoy certain things as a group and bring us closer together, I think that’s very necessary in every clubhouse I’m really glad Schreiber is here and now that I have the 30s, I don’t need to be that guy anymore.

The Red Sox also celebrate during games by encouraging homers with their laundry cart rides. (Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today)

It all started last year, with Triple-A Worcester to be exact. No one can remember the specific game he started or even how he started, but he made it to the majors and he’s here to stay.

“We were trying to figure out how it started and we literally couldn’t remember where, when or why,” Schreiber said. “It kind of happened one night in Worcester, maybe there was a good song or something and I was in a good mood.”

When Chris Sale was in Worcester last summer recovering from Tommy John surgery, he knew about the wild post-match scene and loved it. A few months later, Schreiber was recalled from Worcester in September during the Red Sox’s COVID-19 outbreak. Sale begged him to break up the post-match performance.

“He saw it and said, ‘You better do this here,'” Schreiber recalled. “The first series I was in (at Boston last year) and we won a game, he said, ‘Okay, it’s time to shine.'”

Schreiber was ejected after a three-inning outing in September. He pitched well in spring training for the Red Sox, but didn’t make the cut initially for Opening Day. At the end of April, he was called back and brought his routine with him. He was fired for a few days much to the chagrin of his teammates, but was recalled on May 6 and has been with the big league club ever since.

“He was throwing really well and it felt like we’d love to have him in our bullpen, but also selfishly love having him in our locker room after games,” Hernandez said. “We were all very happy to see him when he was called up and of course now he’s reinvented himself and throws a lot harder and is extremely dominant. But I think what he brings to the clubhouse sometimes can be more important than what he does on the mound.

A 15th-round pick by the Tigers in the 2016 draft, Schreiber made his major league debut in 2019. But after two seasons with the Tigers, posting a 6.28 ERA in 28 appearances, the club released him to the start of 2021. The Red Sox liked his side arm action and thought they could make some tweaks, getting him back from waivers in February 2021. He was slated for assignment at the end of spring training but straight to Worcester. After a season of honing his repertoire, working closely with pitching coach Paul Abbott, adding a lead and increasing his speed, Schreiber has emerged as an intriguing option for the bullpen, and although he started the year again in Worcester, the Red Sox had their eye on him.

This year, 20-plus appearances with the Red Sox, he posted an 0.87 ERA, struck out 24 and walked five, becoming a legit weapon outside the bullpen; he eliminated the team in a scoreless eighth inning in Sunday’s 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

And while his dominance on the mound was important for the Red Sox, the postgame contributions were just as important. His winding road so far has given him perspective, allowing him to drop his normally shy and serious demeanor to put on a post-game show his teammates can’t get enough of.

“That’s the most important thing,” Schreiber said. “Coming here with Boston, I just realized that you have to have fun here to be successful and I think that’s just the most important part, trying to have that mindset, going out there and enjoy.”

His teammates love the energy on and off the mound, but appreciate his intense in-game character for his goofy routine after the win.

“Knowing him in the bullpen from post-game, he’s a 100% one-to-nine competitor and a different cat, but as soon as that last one is out, he’s all about (the celebration),” Matt Strahm said. “He keeps the guys on their toes and stays light, but from rounds one through nine he’s a serious cat. He did it straight away when he got here, watching the team gravitate around that and grab it has been fun.

(Schreiber top photo: Brett Davis/USA TODAY)

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