From: "David" Subject: RED SOX WIN WORLD SERIES Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2004 19:07:46 -0400
At 11:40 pm, the phone rang, my brother Chris from Texas. "Have they -- ?" I asked without preamble. "You're not watching?" "I couldn't." "Turn on the TV. I'll wait."
I went in. Turned on the television. Hugged Nancy. Started shaking and sobbing.
She held me. She understood.
To be a Red Sox fan punctuates and mileposts your life. Where I was when the Sox clinched the 1967 pennant, hours after Lonborg had won their game, when the crackling transistor radio reported the Tigers' last out against the (California) Angels. Dick Radatz leaping off the mound. Billy Rohr's opener (broken up by Elston Howard). Hendu's homer. Bill Lee's eephus pitch. Every moment engraved. In 1978 I was in the left field stands two or three seats from the railing. I can still hear that ball whiffling as it taunted through the air, and Yaz curling himself into a crouch at the Monster's base as it settled into the screen.
Red Sox citizenship is not a choice; it is an obsession born into the limbic emotional cortex of pain. It is not something you will. It wills you. It kidnaps the little boy in you, and it never, never goes away. At eleven, I won two box seats to my first Red Sox game ever by sending in a kids-ask-the-manager question, "Why don't managers use the hit-and-run? Even if the batter misses, there's a chance of a steal, and if he connects, he's got a running start." Announcer Curt Gowdy posed it on-air to Billy Herman, and they talked it for fifteen minutes.
The first Sox year I can remember, they finished seventh. Next year eighth. Next year tied for ninth (last) in the American League. Then 1967, high school: with a week to go, four AL teams in a dead heat. I cut out the standings, had them laminated. 1975, rent-controlled apartment, Fisk's homer, and the more remarkable one before it, Bernie Carbo's titanic blast to dead center.
October 26, 1986. The worst day of my life. One strike away. Stop worrying, Nancy told me, they're going to win. "You don't understand," I muttered, eyes glued to the screen.
The ancient Greeks would have been Red Sox fans; they understood that gods were not merely capricious but cruel. The Greeks propitiated, hoping the gods would not notice, or if they noticed, would refrain. Red Sox fans know the gods are out to get them, with infinite variety of torture. Grady Little leaving Pedro in too long. Aaron bleeping Boone. The universe is random? Tell that to a Red Sox fan.
For more than twenty-five years, Nancy's learned about me and sports, especially the Red Sox. "You're getting sports voice," she'll say. "You're tearing up." In 1986, I was prostrate on the floor and there was nothing she could do to console me, even though like dead men walking we had one more game to lose. She did not understand in 1986. In 2004, she understood: 1986, 1978, 1975, 1967. A lifetime. My lifetime.
Look at the sun and burn out your eyes. Watch the Red Sox play and scar your soul. Last year, Game 7, a hotel room in San Antonio before flying very early back to Boston. Turned it off in the eighth, sick, took a sleeping pill, or else I would not have made it through the night.
So I would not watch. Couldn't watch. You do not provoke the gods. But always I knew where we stood. One picks these things up - reflected in a bar mirror, a scrap of conversation overhead, even the furrow of a brow. From the tenor of the cheers I can tell a double play from a strikeout, a we're-ahead from a we're-behind Let's go! Continuous second channel, Nancy calls it.
This year I found that, like radiation, I could take it in small doses. Go to bed before the tension was unbearable, awake at 4:00 am, check the results on the Web. If the game was going on, peep in for the score, remote in hand to look away quickly. Track pitch by pitch on a Web site gamecast. For Yankees 6, the Schilling Game, I risked provocation by watching the ninth. I put it on mute to silence that pompous lout McCarver. Of course Foulke walked the bases full - O gods - before fanning Tony Clark.
Yankees 7. Two-nil in the first, six-nil in the second. They get a run, we get one right back. This never happens, never.
Others who knew us would ask Nancy, in all innocence as if opening a perfectly normal subject instead of life, death, and eternal damnation, "David's such a sports fan, isn't he watching the games?" and she would reply, with a kind of gentle pity, "You don't understand."
Yesterday. Zombie. Time stopped. Somehow home. "Can't you be happy?" Nancy asked. "I mean, they've already beaten the Yankees." "Shhhhhh," I said. "But they've got lots of games to win it." "Shhhhhh." "They're gonna sw - " "Shhhhhh."
Dinner, watching a movie. Pause to check. "We're up one-nil, top of the second!" I shouted. Later, "Three-nil, top of the fifth." "Be happy," Nancy said anxiously. "It's gonna be okay."
Seventh. Top of the eighth, a chance for the Red Sox to blow the game open, to allow me to watch. The gods bestirred themselves - no runs. Bottom of the eighth. Time stopped. Breathing stopped. Tearing up. I'll be tearing up for decades. Eleven thirty-six. Bottom of the ninth coming.
Eleven forty. The phone rang. And I knew. I knew.
"Now can you be happy?" Nancy asked, uncertainly, hopefully.
I wrote this to my sister last night after last call. Its weird to send it
somebody I don't know, Beth, but I feel like this is something you'll
Thanks for a great site. Let's enjoy this.