When my father was in the Emergency Room the other day, I knew he was missing the Red Sox game so I brought it up on my phone. Through the Red Sox website, we couldn’t watch the game, but we could get details of what was happening.
I read it off as best I could. “Okay, Dad. Machado is batting for Baltimore. Sales threw a slider. It went low and inside for a ball.”
At first, he said, “How do you know all that?” and I would show him the tiny words on the screen.
Later in the game. “Okay, next pitch — a swinging strike for Santander,” I said.
“Who’s Santander?” Dad asked.
“Baltimore’s right fielder,” I said.
“Oh, okay,” he said, and closed his eyes while he laid back on the bed.
Still later. “Sales threw a fastball and –”
My father interrupted me. “You’ve got to make it sound exciting! Put some enthusiasm in your voice!”
I told him I would try, but I was tired and didn’t. A radio announcer I am not.
I’m sure he listened to many baseball games on the radio when he was a boy. I know that he and his brother sometimes took the train into the city to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. Once, when they were riding the train, they saw Mel Ott, a well-known NY Giants player. He was wearing a suit and trying to keep a low profile. When my uncle went over to ask for his autograph, Mel Ott carefully looked this way and that to make sure nobody else would notice, then signed as surreptitiously as possible. My father laughs whenever he tells the story, imitating the expression on Mel Ott’s face and the way he looked around him.
When the Dodgers moved to the west coast, my father had to choose another team and opted for the Red Sox.
His two baseball heroes represent those two teams — Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers and Ted Williams from the Red Sox.
“How’s your father doing?” someone asked me the other day. “He must be happy with the way the Red Sox season has started.”
They ARE doing well. From the Red Sox website:
The Red Sox are just the seventh team in the modern era (since 1900) to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. They are the first to do it since the 1987 Brewers. Of the four previous teams, two won the World Series — the 1984 Tigers and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Yes, I think he’s happy,” I replied. “He’s a pretty avid fan.”
“Avid? AVID?” the man said. “I think you mean RABID.”
Avid. Rabid. You get the picture.
He and my mother used to make pilgrimages to Fenway in the summer.
I remember going with them as a child. I don’t remember the baseball game, but I remember waiting afterwards in a long line to eat at a restaurant call Durgin Park. The line went up a flight of steep narrow stairs. At the top I leaned in to see how much longer we would have to wait and a waitress picked me up to move me out of the way.
My mother and father had eaten there years before. From their scrapbook:
Durgin Park 1954?
Durgin Park menu
One summer my parents took my oldest sons with them to Fenway. The only thing the boys ever told me about that game is how the dugouts emptied for some brawls.
Philip, Sam, Owen, and my mom before the Red Sox game
When my father retired in 1999, someone wrote a song for him called “Amazing Don.” One verse, undoubtedly written by a Yankee fan, addressed his love for the Red Sox —
The cards from his recent party also reflect his love for the team —I could go on and on —
Mom and Luis Tiant
Books (a mere tip of the iceberg)
Not to mention bobbleheads, t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, pins, you name it.
Somewhere upstairs is the 1967 “Red Sox Impossible Dream” vinyl album. Somewhere in my treasures is a Carl Yastrzemski pin from that same year.
The photo challenge word of the week is “prolific.” This is more an abundance.
And abundance that comes from decades of cheering on a team through thick and thin.
He still fist-pumps when they score a run or make a good play.
Even in the emergency room with an unenthusiastic announcer telling him about it.