|STAN GROSSFELD/GLOBE STAFF|
Exultant Fan, Reluctant Celebrity
By David Abel | Globe Staff | October 16, 2013
When the bearded police officer shuffled up to the podium, his hands clasped nervously in front of his clipped uniform-issued tie, there was a long pause.
The soft-spoken patrolman, still processing his sudden status as a local celebrity, looked down and then across the media room at police headquarters, where a bank of cameras and lights was facing him.
Officer Stephen Horgan didn't appear to know what to say, and those there from the media seemed unsure what to ask.
So Commissioner Edward F. Davis prodded the gaggle of cameramen and reporters, many of whom had been hounding the 27-year cop since his wide grin and raised hands became a symbol of triumph throughout Red Sox Nation Sunday night.
Finally, one of the reporters asked whether it was his first year working the bullpen at Fenway Park, which is where he was standing at the moment the Detroit Tigers' Torii Hunter tumbled over the wall in pursuit of David Ortiz's grand slam, the outfielder's outstretched legs suspended forever next to Horgan's arms in Globe photographer Stan Grossfeld's now iconic picture.
"Yes," he said, uncomfortably.
After a series of similarly straightforward questions and short answers, another reporter asked what he thought of all the publicity. "I'm humbled by it," he said. "I'm not one to be at the center of attention."
Horgan, 50, said he's a lifelong Red Sox fan and has been working details at Fenway for more than 20 years, directing traffic, keeping peace in the stands, protecting the dugout. When asked if the department discourages officers from cheering at the games, he deferred to the commissioner.
"We actually encourage it," Davis said.
The commissioner noted that details at Fenway are coveted assignments. "There's a lot of people who would like to be there," he said, noting the captain of the police district that includes the Fenway chooses who gets details in the park. "It's a good job."
And it pays well, too: According to payroll records, Horgan made $42,000 working details in 2012, on top of his $73,000 salary, slightly above average total compensation for a Boston police officer.
When asked what he thought about as he watched Ortiz's long ball soaring toward him, Horgan said he thought Hunter would grab it.
"And then I saw the ball land in the bullpen, and because I'm a Sox fan, I just raised my arms," said Horgan, a native of Walpole. "That's all."
As the questions continued, one reporter from a local television station apologized to Horgan. "Sorry we're here," he said. "You seem a little reluctant to get this attention."
Then the reporter asked: "Do you think it's crazy we're focusing so much on the fact that you just put your arms up after a home run?"
"Yeah," he said. "I do it every time. It's just the first time it was caught on film."
He saw Grossfeld's picture on his phone before the game ended. "I couldn't believe it," he said. "I couldn't believe it."
When asked whether he tried to help Hunter after he fell, Horgan said he walked over to him but that players, staff, and the Red Sox's bullpen trainer came to the outfielder's aid right away.
The questions continued, veering toward the intrusive, but the bespectacled patrolman graciously did his best to explain the joys of being a fan.
He noted that he grew his gray-speckled beard before the playoffs in a show of support for the shaggy team.
Then he meditated on his place in local lore.
"It will be great to be a part of Red Sox history," he said. "I'm a lifelong fan. So this is going to be awesome."
When another reporter asked if he was getting sick of strangers asking him to raise his hands for them, he said not yet.
So the cameramen took the opportunity and egged him on to do just that.
Horgan tried to make a quick escape, but the cameramen were persistent. So Horgan relented and raised his arms.
He smiled sheepishly and held them there, in front of the podium, like he was Rocky, or as if he had just won the World Series, his fists clenched in the air.
The reporters and cameramen clapped.
Then the commissioner came to his rescue.
"Alright, they'll keep you there all day," he said.
But, of course, someone asked him to do it again, for a different angle, and Horgan did.
David Abel can be reached at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @davabel.