Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cursed no more

Halloweenlover asked recently how I wound up a Red Sox fan. It's not a simple answer. No "I was born in Boston," no "I went to college in Boston," no "my parents were from Boston and so I was raised a Sox fan from birth." As far as I know, no members of my family have ever lived in Boston.

It's all Ted Williams' fault.

Teddy Ballgame turned my grandfather (my mother's father) into a die-hard Red Sox fan, and since then, my grandfather has managed to pass his affliction on to the rest of us. For example, my mom was a Yankees fan... until 1967, when my grandfather got my mom transfixed during the playoffs. My mom fell in love with the '67 Sox, especially Yaz. My grandfather saw his opening. He shared all of the history with her: the early World Series victories, the curse of the Bambino, the 1946 World Series, the grandiose failures. From that moment on, my mom was hooked. (She never rooted for the Yankees again, either, thank God.)

As I grew up, my mom made sure I followed baseball. She took me to Orioles games, as Baltimore was the closest big-league city. Naturally, I grew up an Orioles fan. I knew my mom was a Red Sox fan, but we could both root for the O's (so long as they werne't playing Boston). As a kid in the mid-'80s, I loved Cal Ripken, Fred Lynn, Eddie Murray, and Rick Dempsey. In 1986, I started playing softball. I couldn't throw very far, so they put me in at catcher. I started learning more about other catchers, and decided that my catcher role model should be Gary Carter of the then-hot Mets. As the Mets made their way to the playoffs, I rooted for them (mostly for Carter). When it came down to the Mets and the Sox in the '86 Series, I was hoping the Mets would beat my mom's Sox.

Then Game 6 happened. I couldn't believe the Mets' luck. I was thrilled. Then I saw my mom's face. I immediately felt like crap for rooting for the Mets. I tried to make her feel better.

"It's OK, they can still win tomorrow."
"No, they won't."
"You don't know that. They could win."

And that's when she proceeded to tell me everything. The Curse. Pesky holding the ball. Bucky Dent.

And I knew she was right, and the Sox wouldn't win Game 7 (they didn't). And I also knew that from that moment on, I would commit myself to a team that not only failed to win the World Series, but failed spectacularly. We're talking falls from glory on par with what you see in Greek tragedies.

As the years passed, few things pissed me off more than those asshats who declared that, if Boston ever won it all, all Sox fans would be miserable because we'd have nothing to complain about.

To those people, I want to say, "I'm still on a high from last year. Jackass."


Anonymous Kristen said...

Great story.

My parents were both born and raised outside of Boston. I was born in CT, lived in Boston as a kid for a few years, and then went to college in Boston.

My extended family includes many different religious beliefs and many different political affiliations. But we are all, every one of us, die-hard Red Sox fans.

When I was a kid, our family vacations included going to Red Sox spring training in Florida. Back then, those were small-time games and I got to meet all my heros.

Since I've moved to Wisconsin, and had children, I don't follow baseball closely anymore. Most of the games broadcast here are the Brewers or the Cubs. I do enjoy the Cubs - they have a Red Sox feel about them.

But I don't think you can ever lose that Red Sox fan thing. It's got to be genetic or something. (I hope.)

And we *all* know exactly where we were on that cruel October evening of 1986. I was in Boston - a freshman in college. Watching the game with a bunch of New Yorkers who immediately broke out in an out of tune renditon of "New York, New York" as the game ended.

7:20 AM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

We are still high on that happiness too! Have you seen that McDonald's commercial where a guy is sitting at a red light and all of a sudden breaks into wild dancing in his car and then the voice over says something like "remembering that the Red Sox won the world series..."? Josh and I love it! He says that he feels like that all the time. He'll remember that they actually won, out of the blue, and it'll make his day.

We have some real crazies in our dugout of fans : )

12:00 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

I usually find that the best fans (most rabid) are the ones rooting for an underdog team.

Being a Yankees fan since I was a kid (when they weren't winning), I think it must be true. Don't hit me with a brick over the Yanks :)

12:19 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Yankee T said...

I have a kind of sardonic resentment about the Sox winning after I moved away. I always said I felt like a bride left at the altar by the Sox, year after flippin' year...then I move and what happens? We all know...
Great post.

12:50 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger atoep said...

Great story. I liked it a lot.

1:41 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger liz said...

Hey, APL! I tagged you for a meme. I can't remember if you did this one though.

4:30 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Oh I remember the 86 series well, too. I was in boarding school in CT, 80% of students hailing from New York or New England, so you can imagine the split in student body. Having grown up outside Philly, I was a Phillies fan and didn't know much about the Mets or the Sox, and kept changing my affiliation as the series progressed, but finally being completely destroyed when Bill Buckner missed that ball--and I've been a sox fan (to a small degree) ever since.

5:12 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Oscar Madison said...

I haven't heard the word "asshat" before, but I like it.

Well, I'm still living off my high from the '86 World Series. (It's not like the Mets have had a surfeit of success since then.) And it seems to me you have a double greek tragedy going -- the Red Sox and the guilt that drove you to them. Kind of an Antigone thing.

10:05 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Oscar Madison said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:05 PM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

If I'm like Antigone, then I wonder who's my "brother"?

Ooo, can it be Marty Barrett?!

And a hello to atoep--welcome!

10:27 PM, July 25, 2005  

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