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Pacific NW Traces
Region rich in ties to October baseball
By Corey Brock / MLB.com

Sure, MLB's 2008 postseason rosters were filled with players from sunny locales where playing year round is more reality than pipe dream.

But when it comes to October baseball, the Pacific Northwest isn't just a nice place to grab a cup of coffee on a rainy day.

It's a hotbed for talent, at least if you ask the Red Sox.

Three of their top homegrown players and their marquee 2008 acquisition hail from the region known for its wet weather, bitter brews and, in baseball terms, a Japanese superstar named Ichiro playing in a beautiful Seattle ballpark.

Not only on the Red Sox roster but at the core of Boston's success, No. 1 starter Jon Lester, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielder Jason Bay brought a distinctive Northwest flavor to the 2008 postseason party. Ellsbury and Lowrie hail from Oregon, Lester from Tacoma and Bay from British Columbia, Canada.

For all four, the Pacific Northwest is where they first honed their skills.

Ellsbury, a postseason hero for the Red Sox in 2007, is from the small town of Madras, which is located on the east side of Mount Hood.

In fact, less than a month after helping the Red Sox win the World Series, he was honored in his hometown.

"I had a parade when I got back to Madras, which was pretty neat. Every kid dreams of winning a World Series as a baseball player, but you never dream of having your own parade," Ellsbury told MLB.com. "That's pretty special."

Lowrie grew up in Oregon's state capital of Salem, where he was a standout at North Salem High before heading to Stanford.

Lester has already endured a lot in a short time, having beaten a curable form of lymphoma following surgery in 2006.

On May 18, 2008, the left-hander threw a no-hitter against the Royals.

"That was the coolest thing to me -- there was genuine emotion there," Rick Barnhart, Bellarmine Prep's baseball coach told the Seattle Times. "That gave me goose bumps. I'm glad Jon is still causing the same reaction from people as he did here. He's just a wonderful kid to be around."

Then there's Bay, who grew up in Trail, British Columbia, where hockey is the game in town -- and province, and, really, the entire country.

Philadelphia outfielder Geoff Jenkins (born in Olympia, Wash.) and Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall (born in Tacoma, Wash.) are two other players with Pacific Northwest ties on postseason rosters. And don't forget about Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who not only owns a home in Seattle but a legacy. It was under Gillick's watch (2000-03) that the Mariners set an American League record with 116 wins in 2001.

But the Pacific Northwest's contribution couldn't have been more evident than on the play that sent the Red Sox to the AL Championship Series: It was Bay who scored the winning run in Game 4 of the Red Sox's American League Division Series vs. the Angels on Lowrie's single to right field.

That hit was certainly enough to send Red Sox Nation into a tizzy. And maybe, amidst the raised glasses of beer that night, someone raised a cup of coffee.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.