Monday, October 29, 2007

86 + 3

There’s a great children’s picture book “86 Years” by Melinda
Boroson that traces a family of Red Sox fans from 1918 down
to 2004.The pictures start with the great grandfather and his
family at the park, and as the years pass so do the generations.
grandparents and parents age and eventually are succeeded by
their children and grandchildren as clothes and hairstyles of the
family change with the times. There’s some text as well but it
was those images that I think about when I remember the Red
Sox winning the World Series in 2004.

Now it’s three years later and they’ve done it again. My Mom
would have been ecstatic and Dad would have just grunted his
approval in that taciturn Maine way of his.

Sports in New England and in Boston are more than pastimes.
People’s memories of our teams and players are in many cases
intricately bound with memories of our childhood and our family.

My father took me and two friends to a Sox game for my 12th
birthday in 1960 and so I have the memory of seeing in person
Ted Williams playing in his last year. I also have the memory of
the lady sitting a few rows down in front of us in the center field
bleachers who kept up a running commentary that Stan Musial
was a better player then Ted, and how after Ted made a great
catch against the left field wall some beer was “accidentally”
spilled on the lady.

I got to see John Havlicek and the Celtics at old Boston Garden
against the Philadelphia Warriors a few years later, a trip made
memorable by the flat tire on the way home to Abington. My
friend’s Dad had taken us to the game and we all pitched in to get
the tire changed while we discussed if Havlicek or Larry Siegfried
was the better player.

There was the night we watched Pudge Fisk’s World Series
homerun and the church bells in Marshfield rang to celebrate.

I saw Bobby Orr’s dramatic Stanley Cup winning goal over the
St. Louis Blues on the tv at the end of the bar at Morey Pearl’s
Restaurant the night I was working.

I also recall my sister jinxing the Bruins one year because she
was tired of all the hockey we were watching. She told us that
Ken Dryden was going to beat them and win the Stanley Cup
for the Canadiens and they did. Ah, the heresy!!

I took my kidbrother to see the Patriots play. His favorite
players were Russ Francis and Mosi Tatupu. Now Mosi's
son is a player for the Seattle Seahawks. Could that many
years have passed?

When Dennis Johnson passed away earlier this year, I thought
of my Mom. Dennis was one of her favorite players on the great
Celtic teams of the 70’s and 80’s, the other being Larry Bird
because he wasn’t afraid to dive on the floor after a loose ball.

A well known Boston sports talkshow host used to say that when
he died, the inscription on his headstone would say:

“He never saw the Red Sox win it all.”

Well, now he’s seen them do it twice.

But my parents both left us before the Pats won a Superbowl or
the Sox won the Series. My niece and nephews have never seen
the Celtics or Bruins win championships.

I’ve seen them all win.

It’s fitting, I think, that the Red Sox play music by the Dropkick
Murphy’s, a local Celtic rock band. That’s their song “Shipping
Up to Boston” that Papelbon did his impromptu Irish jig to when
they were celebrating first making the playoffs and then the
World Series. Sox fans like the Irish were long suffering and
poetic in recounting the long saga of their tireless devotion to the
cause. They treasure the triumphs, mourn the defeats, and
remember the heroes of yesteryear.

And when they party, they party.

All of these players and teams were and are things that bring
families of sports fans together and give us memories we

Thanks, Red Sox. !

Go, Celtics!
Go, Bruins!
And Go Pats!

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