Posted by SwampyMeadows, Features Contributor,
Monday, November 1 2004
BEVERLY HILLS (MI) -- I have always wondered what the reaction would be when the day finally came. How would millions of members of Red Sox Nation respond to the Sox' first World Series championship since 1918? As I watched pitcher Keith Foulke underhand the ball to 1B Doug "Eyechart" Mientkiewicz for the final out, I got this big grin on my face…basically, it has been there ever since. As the Younger Swampette said when she played her last softball game "I thought I would cry when it was all over" but, like her, I didn't. Days later, the grin and a sense of unbelievable contentment remain, unabated.
The achievement of a lifelong dream naturally brought a torrent of Red Sox memories flowing back:
-- Of the little boy who only wanted one thing every year for his birthday -- to go see the aging Ted Williams and the hopeless, hapless, "25 guys, 25 cabs" Red Sox play at Fenway.
-- Asking my Dad what the banner being hauled by a plane flying over Fenway said and him telling me it read "Happy Birthday Jimmy"…and me believing him.
-- Light hitting Sox SS Don "Automatic Out" Buddin hitting a walk-off homer and me asking my Dad "what happened?" because I never saw it.
-- Jimmy Piersall. He may have been a little whacko, but that guy could catch anything hit remotely near him. Plus, his name was Jimmy.
-- Holding my hands high just like Yaz did when I batted.
-- Being there the night that Tony C got beaned in 1967.
-- Later that year going to the 7th game of the World Series vs. the Cardinals with my friends Gus and Kevin without benefit of tickets, along with several thousand other fans out on Lansdowne Street.
-- Coming back to my apartment at UD in 1972 to listen to the Tigers play Luis Tiant and the Sox in a pennant-deciding game, only to find 3 guys burglarizing the place. If I hadn't dropped the future Mrs. Swampy off early to listen to the game on WJR, all of my stuff would have been gone.
-- Taking Mrs. Swampy to see "The Gold Dust Twins" Fred Lynn and Jim Rice play at the Fens in their rookie season in 1975.
-- Later that year, drinking shots (which I never did) to calm my nerves at our house in the middle of Reds country while watching the 6th game of the World Series -- the best baseball game ever played -- at least until this year.
-- Bucky "Bleeping" Dent.
-- Finding a high spot with a good signal to listen in my car to static-filled Sox games on far away WTIC in Hartford when we lived in Ohio and Pittsburgh.
-- The bottle of champagne I was getting ready to open at the end of the 6th game vs. the Mets in 1986, but never did. It ended up in the trash a few years later.
-- Taking my boss Tommy Turner, a lifelong Sox fan and Yankee hater from -- of all places -- New York City, to his first-ever game at Fenway in 1990.
-- Hitting the "off" button on my remote before Aaron Boone's HR even landed in the seats at Yankee Stadium in the 7th game of the ALCS last year.
These are just a few of the more memorable mileposts in my life and you can rest assured that every member of RSN has a truckload more of their own that they have carried around with them for all these years.
As for the events of the magical day that changed all of our lives, I'll leave the description to the acknowledged expert -- fellow Bostonian Bill Simmons from ESPN.com:
To understand the depth and soul of RSN, all you have to do is read some of the entries on the "Sons of Sam Horn" MB under the title "Win It For." I can't think of another team that has meant so much to so many people spanning so many generations. Simmons does a great job of describing the "Win It For" thread in yet another "Sports Guy" gem:
Here's a link to the actual "Win It For" thread, now fifty-something pages long -- check it out for yourself:
I'm not a member of SoSH, so I didn't post on the MB. If I had, here's what I would have written:
"Win it for my stepmom, Lil. She lost her hand-to-hand battle with cancer on September 12, 2004 the day after her birthday -- that's right, she was born on 9/11. Lil was a tough daughter of New England and an absolute angel sent to my 84 year old father who took care of him when he needed somebody the most. As her own condition worsened, their roles were reversed and Dad had to tend to Lil. I had always thought that I was a huge Red Sox fan, but I was a total neophyte compared to Lil.
As her body started to shut down, my brother and I decided to drive up to their place in Vermont over the Labor Day weekend to spend time with them. As my wife put it "you can see her now while she is still alive or you can wait until the funeral." We chose now. It was a good thing, too, because it turned out that Lil wanted no part of any funeral. On Sunday, Dad talked to the doctor and they decided to readmit Lil to the hospital. Not so fast. Lil wasn't going anywhere until the Red Sox closed out their 8-3 matinee victory over Oakland at Fenway. "I can't leave yet, Ed" she told my Dad, "they could still lose this game." So we all sat in Lil's room, chatting and watching the Sox while waiting until victory was assured. Lil hated ambulances, so my brother and I carried her out of their house, seated in a chair. We loaded her into my sister's truck and that was the last time we saw her alive."
When she died, I sent my Dad a note saying that Lil would be watching the Sox from up above and that this was definitely gonna be the year they won it all, if she had anything to say about it. After reading the "Win It For" thread on SoSH it dawned on me -- there are 86 years worth of people up there just like her, who died before ever seeing the Sox win a World Series. How could the Red Sox possibly lose?
When it looked the absolute worst -- down 3-0 to the hated Yankees in the ALCS -- I phoned my Dad and told him "when they win this thing, it will be the greatest comeback in sports history." After every subsequent Sox victory, I called him with a countdown and every time he reminded me of what I had written him. He is not a spiritual guy, but I could sense that even he was starting to believe.
My dream was for me to somehow be able to scrounge up 2 tickets to a World Series game at The Fens, call him on the phone and say "Hey, Pop, let's go see a baseball game!" That didn't happen, but sharing this indescribable experience with my father over the past 10 days was the next best thing.
That's it "From the Swamp"