Boston Red Sox

Where do I begin?

My love affair with the Boston Red Sox started in 1966. I was eight years old, my father was a Red Sox fan, and I learned how to read box scores by pouring over the sports page in The Hartford Courant, or the (sadly) now defunct Hartford Times.

The Times was the afternoon paper in our area, and went under in 1976, much to the detriment of journalistic coverage of Hartford and the suburbs. The advantage of the Times, at least from a young Sox fan's point of view, was that they would have the complete box scores of the late West Coast games. Back in those days, before technology sped everything up, the Courant would simptly put the word "late" next to the scores for the West Coast games.

I must admit that those memories are a bit hazy now, especially of that first season I followed them. While I had to look up the fact that they finished 9th in the 10-team American League, I have always remembered that they did finish ahead of the hated Yankees. The hatin' starts early in that rivalry.

1967

The Dream Season, 1967, is also kind of blurry. I remember Tony Conigliaro getting hit by the pitch. I remember the terrible picture of him with a black eye that was in the paper. I remember thinking that the Sox might be done for.

Of course, all of that was wrong. The Sox won the pennant after a terrific final weekend, taking two from Minnesota. Later in the day, when Detroit lost, I remember my Dad all but dancing a jig. The Sox had won the pennant for the first time since 1946. Wow! No, double Wow! And of course, that's how I was first set up for the Sox to break my heart.....

The Sox took the St. Louis Cardinals and their phenomenal pitcher Bob Gibson to seven games, but an exhausted Jim Lonborg, pitching on two days rest, could not stem the red tide, and the Cardinals won. I was heart-broken. I was in 5th grade though, and figured they'd be there again soon.

1975

Soon turned out to be 1975, and the optimism was there again. After winning the AL East, they swept the Oakland Athletics to again win the pennant. A most exciting World Series, the highlight of which, for me, will always be the Game 6 heroics of Bernie Carbo and Carlton Fisk, was unfortunately another opportunity for the Sox to come up short. Personally, I like Pudge Fisk's quote: "We won that World Series three games to four."

1986

We waited another eleven years for the next trip. Time flies when you are having fun, and it's not until you step back and look hard that you've bounced from 5th grade, to High School, to being employed in the fourth job in your career, working for the company you always wanted to work for.

This time around, I didn't have the leeway to watch all the games from the comfort of my couch. Throughout the ALCS against the Angels, my software development group was pulling a series of all-nighters. We had started in mid-September, and we worked an average of 80 hours a week (without working a single weekend day) until just before Thanksgiving, when we shipped our product. It was brutal, and sleeping on the floor under your desk for a couple of hours was pretty common. It's a wonder none of us died on the way home.

Anyway, a lot of these games were watched in the office, with a TV normally used for viewing training tapes. I did see Dave Henderson's late inning heroicsat home, on the weekend. By the time the Sox had defeated the Angels 4-3, I was beginning to get excited again.

There's not much else to say about 1986. Just as people talk about where they were when President Kennedy was shot, or where they were on September 11, Sox fans talk about Game 6. I was away for the weekend in Washington DC, sitting in bed, in a heavily discounted room at the Willard Hotel. The Sox were one strike away from winning their first World Series in sixty-eight years. I wondered how I would react. I knew that I probably could not jump up and down on the floor, being in a hotel and all. I waited.

What happened next was surreal, like a Salvatore Dali painting come to life. Stanley throws the pitch, and it's rolling to the backstop, and the game is tied up. Unbelievable. And of course, the inexorable, inevitable, slow roller up the line, through Buckner's legs. I cannot recall ever experiencing such a radical turn of emotions before or since.

Game 7? I was flying back home, the pilot announcing that the Sox were up 3-0. Of course, by the time I got my bags, and got home, the Sox had lost 8-5. You knew that was going to happen....

2004

One of my fondest memories of 2004, aside from my favorite Sox player, Jason Veritek face-rubbing Alex Rodriquez in July, was the Ford Commercial that had Curt Schilling heading to Boston to break an 86-year old curse. I loved that commercial.

The season was full of incredible memories. The aforementioned 'Tek fight with A-Rod, and the ending of that game with Bill Mueller hitting the two run homer off Rivera. The trading of Nomar (pronounced "Nomah" if you're from Massachusetts). Johnny Damon's hair.

I wrote some pieces after the World Series win so that I could always remember what I felt like. Here's they are.