I became a Red Sox fan in 1967, at the age of 11. When I think of my introduction to baseball, I am reminded of my grandfathers; it is with them that I sat in front of flickering black and white TVs, learning from their stories, as they shared impressions of their own lives of being a fan. I learned that my grandfather Walter enjoyed complaining about Yaz, and even Ted Williams, though I have no idea why (he was a rather colorful, contrary sort, but I loved him so much for the time he spent with me, playing cards, picking blueberries or walking through his garden). I remember less about my grandfather Arthur, but my first Red Sox game was watched at his beach house, and John Wyatt (a most obscure Red Sox member) was pitching that day.
There were many moments of joy and suffering between the eventual 7 game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1967 and the most improbable victory in 2004, coming back from the dead, being down 3 games to none against the hated Yankees. I actually missed the first of the miracle comebacks, as my wife and I were shivering in a cold, windy October stretch at her sister's beach house on Cape Cod. But then, as we made the rounds in family visits, I got a real treat - opportunities to watch play off and worlds series games with both of our dads. That was something I never imagined could happen.
In 2007, the Sox did it again - but it was a very difficult year, as we lost my dad to a stroke in March, just as spring training was getting underway. We then lost Susan's dad later in the season, as the Sox were asserting their dominance over the American League; in fact, it was a during a Red Sox game that I got to chat with Harry for the very last time.
One more personal connection colored this year's Worlds Series run. Last week my wife and I were in Dracut Massachusetts, Sue's mom under hospice care. Just following another Red Sox victory, I spent the next 5 hours with Ann, ensuring her comfort and watching vigil while Sue and her brother David could finally get some much needed sleep. It is a night none of us will ever forget, as Ann passed away just a few hours later. Joy and sorrow, experience within hours of each other; a microcosm of what it is to be human.
And there I was, last night, October 30, 2013, me all alone (the games last too long for my wife Susan to endure, so she was long in bed) jumping up and down in front of the TV, texting with a friend and my brother Kent, my dogs and cats eyeing me suspiciously. Why we create allegiances with sports teams, why we spend so much time concerned with their winning and losing - it is a mystery to me. But we do become involved, our hearts race, or our moods fall, we move up and down with the successes and failures. Last night was particularly special because of the way that the Red Sox carried themselves through the season. I love the team concept, and I love rooting for underdogs. Both boxes were amply checked in this season.
So now we get our evenings back; the TV can once again be used for watching our Netflix movies. The 2013 Red Sox season will take its place in my collective baseball memories, right up there with 1967, 2004 and 2007. I will always remember sitting in my living room in Raleigh, surrounded by two dogs and three cats, too excited to sleep, hungrily devouring any post-game article I could find on the internet. Such fun!
We will now return to gardening.....(until and unless the Patriots decide to win the Super Bowl!)