Hope Springs Eternal

Right before spring training starts, the questions we've raised in the offseason taper off, and spring training battles slowly start to take shape. Major media outlets are trying to field any lagging fan questions, players without homes scramble for a job, or continue to pout and lament over their perceived value. One of the things I tend to do around this time of year is always go back to some of the reasons why I've worn this team like a red badge of courage for so long. In my short 31 years, I never suffered though the ultimate let down from the Impossible Dream, I never got to cheer the most famous fly ball ever to just stay fair, or got to give Bucky Dent a very special middle name.
If it stays fair, Homerun!

If it stays fair, Homerun!

Right before spring training starts, the questions we’ve raised in the offseason taper off, and spring training battles slowly start to take shape. Major media outlets are trying to field any lagging fan questions, players without homes scramble for a job, or continue to pout and lament over their perceived value.

One of the things I tend to do around this time of year is always go back to some of the reasons why I’ve worn this team like a red badge of courage for so long. In my short 31 years, I never suffered though the ultimate let down from the Impossible Dream, I never got to cheer the most famous fly ball ever to just stay fair, or got to give Bucky Dent a very special middle name.

Thankfully for me, big moments in Red Sox history didn’t pass me by, or wait very long to get a chance to pull me in. I cheered for Hendu, and lamented through 7 year old tears my disappointment in Gedman, Schrialdi, and the Steamer.

Hendu!

Hendu!

I screamed at Chuck’s phantom tag, and drank too much after Aaron Boone’s homerun.

In 2004, I felt betrayed when Nomar sat on the bench, looking disinterested and lost. I remember watching Derek Jeter and even Pokey Reese give up their bodies in a memorable matchup at Yankee Stadium that ultimately signaled the end of screaming NOMAAAAAH! from my seats. I watched Tek punk A-Rod, and Mueller save the team from what could have been a crushing defeat, yet suddenly become the season’s turning point. Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS showed me the ugliest side of devotion to a team. Fans walked out of Fenway by the 6th inning, like zombies without the urge to feed; I even spotted a pair of fans toss their hats away, fueled by sadness and probably the fact the park ran out of beer (or at least told us that). I lost a full week of sleep, and probably a promotion at work because David Ortiz wouldn’t let me give up.

It's not over yet!

It's not over yet!

While 2004 was the zenith and the deifning moment of what it was to be a Red Sox fan, one random memory still sticks out in my mind.

In 1999, I finally entered a very prestigious group known as “Red Sox Season Ticket Holders”. While my bleacher assignments have shifted into right field 10 years later, I started way out in centerfield, watching Pedro Martinez single-handedly carry team filled with Mark Portugals and Jose Offermans.

On May 12th, I went to the Sox vs Mariners game instead of my late software design class. Pedro Martinez completely dominated the Mariners; Pedro struck out 15 Mariners, including the Hall-Of-Fame version of Ken Griffey Jr three times.

It was that game that first got me truly fascinated with the real nuances of baseball: the things we may not all have learned in little league and high school. Whenever I’m pouring over mountains of Pitch FX data, trying to figure out what’s going on, I always remember that day, because now when I think about that performance, I really know why Pedro was such an unbelievable talent, and why i really feel lucky that I got to witness what he could do in person as many times as I have.

Every spring, this is when I start to get really excited. Even with all the ups, downs, stomach punches, and random hugs from strangers on Beacon Street when they finally won, I wouldn’t trade this fanbase for any other. And now, I get to share my experiences, analysis, and rampant, sometimes completely and unabashedly biased fandom with all of Firebrand’s readers.

Have you had a big Red Sox experience that reminded you why you love the game as much as we all do? Share it with us, as every spring, we hope to add another to the list.

Categories: Pedro Martinez Playoffs

4 Responses to “Hope Springs Eternal” Subscribe

  1. went9 February 11, 2010 at 6:00 AM #

    My first game at Fenway came on July 14th, 1967. My godmother lived near Billy and Tony Conigliaro's parents and got four 3rd base box seats for my Dad to take us to a game. Yaz went 3 for 4 with a double, a HR and 2 RBI. Jim Lonborg pitched for the 11-5 win over Baltimore. Rico Petrocelli played SS, Conigliaro in RF, and George Scott was at firstbase. My older brother went to take a squirt and on his way back from the bathroom he grabbed a foul ball. Man, I wanted that ball. I was hooked on baseball.
    First world series game was game 3 in 1986. Oil Can Boyd took the 7-1 loss. I took my girlfriend and we sat in one of the last rows in the bleachers in dead center field. We all know how that series ended.
    In 2007, I flew out to Denver for games 3 and 4 of the series and this time the Sox sent me home with one very large smile. I hope to repeat that feeling again in 2010. Let's get this season started.
    Let's Go Red Sox… clap,clap, clap clap clap !

  2. Gerry February 11, 2010 at 3:35 PM #

    I was there for Lonborg vs. Gibson, Bucky Dent, Billy Buckner and all the rest and got used to the pain, and knew that 'wait 'til next year' would some day come true. 2004 came true, and it was a miracle of sorts, but 2007 was not, as it was pitching and defense, some good hitting and aggressive base running by a deep team.

    I loved the 2009 team and was surprised when the wheels fell off, a feeling very much akin to 1967, but believe the 2010 team has replaced the wheels and tuned the engine. What Buchholz, Daisuke, Bard, Ortiz promised last year will be delivered this year. What Mikey and Tek couldn't produce, AB and V.Mart will. An OF of Ells/Cam/JD will be ridiculously good. The "rookies" (Reddick, Lowrie, Bowden, Tazawa, Richardson, Brown, Wagner) will be fully MLB ready when they arrive. MDC, Hall, Hermida, Mikey, Pap, Pedey have much to prove. It's a stronger and deeper team.

    I have vivid Sox memories of Williams, Jensen, Piersall, Dick Stuart & Pumpsie Green, and tatters of older, childhood memories. But the "wait 'til next year" mantra has me feeling in my bones that this so-called 'bridge team' is primed and ready to win it all. Can't wait for these 2010 memories to begin.

  3. Patrick February 12, 2010 at 3:12 PM #

    I haven't had the opportunity to visit Fenway anywhere near as many times as I'd like to, so each trip in the handful is a special memory, but my favorite by far was May 29, 1993, when the Sox blew out the Rangers and Jose Canseco pitched. In retrospect it wasn't what you'd call a "good game", but when you're 10 years old and you get to see the home team hand their opponents a serious drubbing (15-1 final score), including a comical pitching appearance by a formerly feared slugger, it doesn't matter much that the suspense was lacking. The Sox teams of the time were not great by any stretch of the imagination, so I had previously only seen losses at Fenway, so any win was welcome, and to do it with emphasis was even better. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, I sat next to my father eating a hotdog, and the Sox won. All was right with the world.

  4. neil February 14, 2010 at 12:28 AM #

    My first time at Fenway was 1950. Our family went to a series every year when i was a kid. Driving in from Dalton. At 14 i went to Ted Williams baseball camp and we would go as a group to sit in left field. I saw Luis pitch a 3 hit shutout against the good Athletic team vs Blue Moon Odom. The best was taking the green line when i lived in Brookline. 25 cents to ride 1.50 for right field seats 1.50to sneak a 6 pack in and 25 cents to get home, Good times!