Another interruption – a 2nd post about baseball, not woodworking. It’s long too. Back to woodworking next time, don’t worry.
There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all
I wonder, how did Lennon write that in his early 20s?
My brother Steve is all right. Like our father was, he is a life-long baseball fan. Here we are, 1968. Me about 10 yrs old, him 17 or so. This was right before I got beaned, knocked unconscious; mis-judged a flyball…out of view here is the pitcher – our father.
This one’s from my wedding party, playing half-ball. 2003.
So when I had a question about the Red Sox playoff schedule I wrote to him. I was specifically wondering if there were going to be any day games (a long-shot, I knew) so I could take Daniel somewhere to watch one on TV.
His reply was to offer us 2 tickets to Saturday’s game, down the right-field line. Daniel’s dream come true…first time at Fenway.
We went in early so we could look around, then found our seats & got settled in.
He stuck to me pretty close, but from what I could gather he was thrilled to be there. To our surprise, Steve and his daughter Jane showed up before the game, turns out he got other tickets so they could go too. Told us they’d switch seats with us for an inning or two – so Daniel got a great view from the first-base side.
Me, I’m still torn about this baseball thing.
Like I said, there’s a lot to it. It’s all muddled up with family, history (of a sort), nostalgia, romance. Heroes & goats, pieces of Americana larger than life. Something about being a kid and loving baseball, it’s all-consuming. Rosters, matchups, statistics, pennant races – so much to keep track of. And the players, the stories.The different parks, each with their own respective personalities, it’s all great stuff. Mostly. I still like the American history aspect of it. I ate it up as a kid, and my father and brother led the way. I played in the neighborhood, not on a team. Kids could do that where I lived then. So for the years when I was about Daniel’s age until I was probably about 14 (1963-1972) I would count myself a baseball fan. By the time I was 14, 15 years old, life went in other directions.
The family history part – my parents married in Boston in 1946.
That year the Red Sox went to the World Series, Ted Williams’ only appearance. Teddy Ballgame either choked, was injured or just plain had a bad series, and the Sox lost. But that’s beside the point. Many folks know that in the late ‘50s, through the sixties, the Sox stunk up the place. Then in 1967, I was 9, 10 years old. The Impossible Dream season – ninth place in 1966, first place in 1967. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Boston_Red_Sox_season
My parents got tickets to games one & seven, part of a mail-in lottery. Someone who knew them back when they were growing up recognized the name Follansbee on the return address label and nabbed their application & sent them tickets. Sox lost in 7 games, but nowadays that season is recognized as the beginning of the current Red Sox mania.
Skip to 1975 – 29 years after 1946. My father died in April, just as the season got underway, The Red Sox went on to lose the World Series in 7 games, but it was the year of Carlton Fisk’s game-winning home run in game 6. I paid it no mind, but most of the rest of New England was glued to it. My mother took it personally that they had such a great season the year Moe died…
Daniel drew this shot once –
(1986 – doesn’t fit into my narrative – I watched with my mother, she was cursing the team the whole time. Always the emotional fan, unlike my father who rarely said anything during a game. Anyway, we know what happened in ‘86. Enough.)
1975 plus 29 more years equals 2004. My mother died in the winter. Just about the time spring training started. That is the year the Red Sox team of Idiots finally won the World Series, the fall that I caved & got cable hooked up here at the house so I could watch. They won during an eclipse of the full moon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…
For me, that did it. Broke the tension, and I lost any ability to be interested in what they were doing. Three years later they won again, & I didn’t see, read it, hear any of it. (It seems I saved the newspapers from that win, but I swear I never read them.)
Now, 2013. This summer, Daniel & I read the standings most every morning, listened to games now & then. Read the sports pages when we had time. He learned quickly – and there’s lots of arcane stuff to learn in baseball. I still forget a bunch of it…had to look up what happens when a pitcher balks.
My personal philosophy is still anti-pro sports. Period. I think it’s a hideous waste of time; reeks of greed and gluttony. For example, the games are at night, while perfect New England fall afternoons go begging for baseball. Watching the adult fans last night, I felt like a cultural mis-fit, and glad to be. Non-beer-swilling, not screaming at Will Myers, even the notion of giving surrounding patrons hi-5s because some overpaid athlete did what he’s supposed to do – seems stupid to me. So as I sat there, I was still of 2 minds – on one hand I thought about the behavior in that park that night, the grown-ups wearing team jerseys with other men’s names emblazoned on them – why do they do that? I understand it for a 7-year old…but a 60-year old? Unless Yazstremski was there last night and the team stuck him out in the right field grandstand. This is not the blog post to start in about the smartphones – but this harkens to another problem I have. I work in public. I don’t need to go out in public otherwise really. Crowds piss me off. How many times last night did I hear “Hey – Duck Dynasty! Great beard, man!” A lot…
I even got caught on TV because I have a beard – 38,000 people there, & they found me. Many Red Sox players this season have beards. So there’s lots of commotion about facial hair…
BUT – the other part is also there. Because I could blur my eyes, and see and hear Fenway from 45-50 years ago. And think of me & my father going to those games. I never got to know what my father thought as he & I went to baseball games. But I think about it a lot now that I have kids. Had he lived, he might not have said anyway. I don’t know how many baseball games he took me to, I feel like we went a couple/few times a year for several years, but those figures might be inflated. One I recall very well was me & him at a double-header, with batting practice. To get there we started by walking down to Weymouth Landing, then a bus to Fields Corner, two branches of the subway and a walk up from Kenmore Square. That’s a LOT of hours for one day for a grown man, but being the kid then I couldn’t get enough of it. I can remember worrying what would happen if he got on the subway and the doors closed before I could get on with him. Decades later, I realized he was taking care to see that didn’t happen…
So I kept track of Daniel as we walked around Yawkey Way and into the ballpark. I thought he’d like to stroll & see the place. But after viewing the field from behind home plate he asked “can we go to our seats now?” so off we went again. For me, it was a great time only because I know how thrilling it was for him – it’s a nostalgia thing. Kids and baseball – a perfect fit.
He stayed up late, way after his bedtime. Sat on my lap most of the time. We walked back to the car through part of Kenmore Square, I showed him where I spent my miserable year in art school. Then he fell asleep as I drove home.
I knew Fenway had changed over the years, seats added here & there, electronic scoreboards, junk like that. And the music – arghhh. But one thing was just plain wrong. Olfactory senses are closely tied to memory. I wished they’d let people smoke cigars – Fenway didn’t smell right without it.