To celebrate the win, many MetroWest Sox fans did what any good fan would - they went shopping.

Ask just about anybody in Red Sox nation today, and they'll tell you: sleep is over-rated.

A bleary-eyed but happy Boston region woke yesterday morning to find the Sox had done it again, coming back from the brink of elimination to win the American League over the Cleveland Indians and earn a trip - the second in four years - to the World Series.

To celebrate the win, many MetroWest Sox fans did what any good fan would - they went shopping.

As early as 6 a.m. Monday, Sox shirts were flying off shelves at Dick's Sporting Goods in Natick, which opened early, anticipating a rush on Red Sox gear, particularly the newly minted American League champion shirts.

``We had quite a few people,'' said Jeff Hennion, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Dick's. ``Mainly what they're looking for today are the T-shirts and hats∞...∞that players were wearing in the celebration last night.''

For most shoppers, it seemed yesterday the excitement of Sunday's win hadn't yet worn off.

``You know, my husband is very excited,'' said Becky Ragliazzo of Medfield, after walking out of Dick's with a T-shirt and a hat. ``He's a huge, huge fan, and I've lived here all my life, so I am too, (but) when they've gone this far, everybody is a fan!''

Ragliazzo's friend Kristy White, also of Medfield, agreed, and predicted the team would keep rolling throughout the week.

``The last games have been so great, they're going to ride it all the way in,'' she said.

Just up the road, a steady stream of fans, most already wearing Red Sox gear, were buying shirts and other Sox items at the Sports Authority at Shopper's World.

Weston resident Julie Curtis stopped at the store to pick up a Sox blanket and ALCS T-shirt for her son, John, who yesterday celebrated his ninth birthday.
``He's psyched,'' she said. ``I didn't think they were going to do it, but he was confident.''

``We're very excited, very excited,'' Ashland resident Debbie Porter said, after picking up several shirts at the Sports Authority.

``People are sleep-deprived, and excited about this,'' interjected her friend and fellow Ashland resident Laura Crupi.

The last time the Sox were in the World Series, Porter said, she was more than eight months pregnant with her now two-year-old daughter Sophie, and she stood in line for nearly an hour to buy a T-shirt.

``Today, I just walked in and picked up two,'' she said. ``They're going to win it all, but they're not going to make it easy on us.''

``It's amazing, I can't wait for the World Series,'' said 18-year-old Framingham resident Shawn Gao. ``I stayed up for the whole game, and even watched about an hour of the news coverage afterwards.''

For some fans, though, the shirts commemorating the Sox's latest American League championship just weren't what they were looking for.

``We're waiting for the World Series shirts,'' said Walpole resident Jean King, whose son, Brandon, 10, wore two Varitek shirts and a Red Sox hat yesterday.
The excitement was so contagious even those raised in the heart of enemy territory were caught up in it.

``I`m a born-and-raised New Yorker,'' Hopkinton resident Mary Nirenberg said, after picking up a shirt yesterday and ordering a hat for her son.
The shirt, she said, would be headed to Seattle, a gift for a friend whom she often talks baseball with.

But what would her family say of her membership in Red Sox nation?
``My father is probably shaking in his grave right now,'' she said.

Peter Reuell of The MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News can be reached at 508-626-4428, or at preuell@cnc.com.