LEWISTON – When the Red Sox triumphed Wednesday night in St. Louis, ending generations of fan anguish with a sweep of the World Series, team co-owner and lifelong fan George Mitchell watched from his bed in Portland.

And he could have been in St. Louis.

“It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make,” the former U.S. senator said Thursday.

As part of the Sox ownership team – he carries the front-office title of “director” – he could have been included in the champagne-popping celebration.

Instead, he promised Democratic Party leaders he’d stump for nominee John Kerry here in Maine.

“I celebrated by going to sleep soundly,” Mitchell said.

The win was “wonderful,” but the sleep was necessary, he said. It’s a precious commodity for the 71-year-old statesman. He’s been traveling steadily for his former colleague.

Thirteen hours after the Sox shattered the Curse of the Bambino, Mitchell appeared at Bates College in Lewiston, asking people to vote for Kerry.

He will also miss Saturday’s victory parade in Boston. The campaign has asked him to speak in Iowa, another battleground state.

The next time he sees Kerry, Mitchell plans to remind him of his sacrifice, he said.

But serious consequences are at stake, he said. Maine’s 2nd Congressional District could swing the presidential election, he told attendees at Bates College.

However, when his remarks were through and a boy asked him to sign his ball cap, Mitchell beamed.

As a boy in Waterville he followed the team’s stars, Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio. He’d listen to heated arguments of who was better, Williams or Dom’s brother Joe, who played for the New York Yankees.

“There were always one or two contrarians, although we didn’t know that word then,” said Mitchell, who would become renowned for his peacemaking skills. “I’m sure there are contrarians who follow the Yankees in every city and town in Maine.”

The first big league game he ever attended was between the storied rivals.

This year, he attended the first game of the American League Championship Series in New York. The Sox lost that one.

And he was there at Fenway Park when the World Series began. Of course, the Sox won that game.

This team’s comeback victory over the Yankees made the post-season even sweeter, Mitchell said.

He had faith in the Sox, but there was a little doubt, too.

It had been so long.

“I’m not sure I actually believed they would win,” Mitchell said.

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