So last night I had this IM exchange with daughter Elizabeth after an excruciating three hour, 2-1 Sox victory over the Marlins:
Elizabeth: Get home OK?
Richard: Almost. You?
R: Home, finally.
E: Did you get lost? Easier to sit in traffic when it’s a win.
R. Not lost. Took forever to get out of the garage. I was thinking the same thing about it being easier to sit…Why do we care so much about them (i.e., the wins, the Sox, etc.)?
E: I blame you.
I admit to committing this transgression on my daughter(s).
From their early years, I encouraged them to follow and understand this life imitating game, even carting groups of their friends to the Orioles’ Park for birthday parties, at least until they realized there were other ways to celebrate with their friends.
So why would an otherwise (arguably) mostly rational fellow (moi) be so obsessed by a game that lasts three hours, is played 162 times a year, and, according to some folks (the uninitiated), is boring?
My wonderful maternal grandfather is to blame.
It started with Pappy, 60 years ago this month.
He lived in Lowell, MA but had season baseball tickets to Boston’s Fenway Park for night and weekend games. The best week of my life for a number of years was when my school let out in Orlando, FL where I was growing up, I’d come to Boston on my way to summer camp in NH and spend a week with Pappy.
We’d go to Fenway around four or five in the afternoon to watch batting practice prior to an evening game. He had seats just behind the Sox dugout, and as I remember it, the players knew him and called him “Pops.”
Imagine what it was like for a kid of nine or ten years old to see Ted Williams and the other Bosox players of that era greet my grandfather.
I lived for that week. When I wasn’t able to go to a Sox game, I would sit next to a radio and try to dial into a scratchy broadcast of game. Every morning I would open the newspaper to the Sports’ section to digest the box score from the previous days’ game.
But nothing matched going to Fenway with Pappy. There was no one I have ever known who was as wonderful as he was. And since he loved the Red Sox, so then did I.
And so if I am to blame for Elizabeth’s having to live through three-hour nail biting games as we did last night, then Pappy is to blame for my obsession.
But ‘blame’ is really the wrong word.
‘Gift’ is a more appropriate word, albeit it comes with strings.