Boston researchers have quantified something many doctors and nurses already knew -- visits to the emergency room drop during critical Red Sox games.

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The team at Children's Hospital did their study during the legendary 2004 season, which ended in the Sox winning the World Series for the first time since 1918. They used a system developed at Children's to track patient traffic at six area emergency rooms during the American League playoffs and the World Series and plotted it against the Red Sox'local Neilsen ratings.

They found that during the two lowest-rated games, when the Red Sox looked like they would once again be a footnote in Yankees' history, traffic in emergency rooms was 15 percent higher than expected. But during other games emergency room visits were about 5 percent below normal.

During the two highest-rated games, the final game between Boston and New York and Game 4 in the World Series, more than half of Boston households were watching the Sox on their televisions -- and the rest may have been watching in bars. Emergency room visits on those nights were 15 percent below normal.