For Joe McCarthy , it was more than just a brush with fame.
''It was more like a brush with God," said the Edgartown man, whose son, Patrick, was pulled from the path of a utility truck on Newbury Street on Wednesday afternoon.
None other than Alex Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, also known as one of the most reviled Yankees in Red Sox Nation.
Here's how it played out: Several hours before Wednesday's game, Patrick, 8, and Rodriguez were crossing Newbury Street in opposite directions when a utility truck came careening round the corner from Arlington Street. The truck seemed headed straight for the boy. The third baseman sprang into action, scooping the boy up just in time, depositing him safely on the curb.
''You OK, buddy?" Rodriguez asked, according to the elder McCarthy.
Patrick McCarthy explained to WHDH-TV that a van blocked his view, ''so I couldn't see a car coming, so I walked across the street because it said, like, the walk sign.
''And this guy just puts his hand in front of me and says 'Whoa, buddy, watch out.' So we looked up and we saw, we were like 'Is that A-Rod?"'
His father said that Patrick re''was just blown away, that he looks up and sees it's Alex Rodriguez."
''I'm Patrick McCarthy," said Patrick McCarthy.
''I'm Alex Rodriguez," said Alex Rodriguez.
It turns out the younger McCarthy, like the rest of his Yankees season ticket-holding family, happens to be a fan of the New Yorkers. Forty games at Yankee Stadium under his little belt already. A huge fan.
They chatted for a bit. The boy told Rodriguez he'd be pitching for the Yankees one day. Rodriguez, who had a much-publicized flirtation with the Red Sox before last season, seemed impressed. He introduced the boy to a couple of his teammates who happened to be nearby, first baseman Tino Martinez and the Big Unit, aka pitcher Randy Johnson.
''It all happened in 2½ minutes, but it seemed like an eternity to Patrick," said his father.
For the father, there was destiny in those 2½ minutes. And cause for eternal gratitude. He says A-Rod saved his son's life.
''I believe there are no coincidences," he said, reached by telephone at his Edgartown home last night. ''Everything happens the way it's supposed to."
''I don't know exactly what happened," Rodriguez said, standing outside the Yankee dugout yesterday. ''I know his mother must have seen the truck going really fast, 40 or 50 miles an hour, and she was really thankful. . . . I guess I'm just thankful that the little boy is still around, I guess."
Joe McCarthy pronounced the rescue the third baseman's ''best catch ever." The Manhattan native said it gives him still another reason to be a Yankees devotee.
As supporters of the Bronx Bombers, the McCarthys stand out a bit on Martha's Vineyard. But they try to be good sports.
''We've been doing nothing but congratulating Red Sox fans since they won the championship," McCarthy said. His work in public relations brought him face to face with Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo recently, and he even apologized for what many Red Sox fans consider the most galling of Rodriguez's many transgressions against the Olde Towne Team.
''I said, `Listen man, as a Yankees fan, I apologize that he tried to slap the ball away from you during the ALCS,' " said McCarthy. The Red Sox pitcher appreciated that, McCarthy said.
So, will saving a kid's life on Newbury Street turn the tide in Rodriguez's favor among the denizens of Red Sox Nation? ''I can't change anybody's mind," McCarthy said. ''But I can say this guy is in my prayers for the rest of my days."