By Mitch Holt, Copy Editor
As I watched my Red Sox toss their 2005-06 season to the dogs, I wondered, ‘why, after 21 years, do I still love this team?’
Then I remembered.
The hour-and-a-half drive to Boston from our small Connecticut town always felt like an eternity when on our way to a Sox game. My brother and I, sporting the team’s red and navy logo, sat quietly in the back seat of our Ford Escort station wagon, sorting through baseball cards we wanted autographed and clinging tightly to our worn, leather baseball gloves (for foul balls). Dad drove and stopped frequently to pay tolls on the Massachussetts Turnpike and Mom, often covered in a quilt, read a novel or crocheted in the passenger seat.
As we arrived in Boston for each game, my brother and I pressed our faces against each of the backseat windows, looking eagerly for a familiar 94-year-old, red brick baseball stadium-Fenway Park.
The walk to Fenway was often brisk and blatant; Mom and dad tried to keep up while my brother and I dashed in a bouncy stride down the street toward the park.
Within the park’s walls, we witnessed countless Roger Clemens strikeouts, gold glove Dwight Evans fielding, a Carl Yastrzemski base hit in an old-timers game, several cold and wet rain delays and the only game in history in which Jose Canseco pitched.
When the game was over, I’d shuffle out of the park with the crowd, grasping the hand of Mom or Dad and not seeing anything but the brand of jeans of the person in front of me. Before I knew it, we’d be back in the station wagon on our way home.
Even in our most financially rough times, this was a tradition from which we never faltered. And for this I’m grateful.
Growing up a Red Sox fan taught me several life-changing lessons.
First, there is something indescribable and incomparable about the MLB’s most historical team. There’s something about watching a baseball game in the same city Paul Revere made his midnight ride and where colonial soldiers dumped hundreds of gallons of British tea into the harbor, coining the name the Boston Tea Party. Zealous, love-hate fans; tasty Fenway franks (you might call them “hot dogs”); the oldest functional manual scoreboard in the league; and more than 100 years of great baseball makes being a fan of New England’s one-and-only baseball team worth it.
Second, consistency is key. Although I still struggle with this concept, I watch dozens of games year after year without fail. My family, my faith and being a Red Sox fan have been three of the only consistencies throughout my life. And finally, after 21 years, this consistency is bleeding into other areas of my life, making me a better person.
And lastly, it feels good to be one of the few true Red Sox fans in Abilene. Sure, you see dozens of Sox hats every day, but those guys don’t really like the team on the hat they’re wearing. They bought it after the team’s World Series win in 2004, threw it in the dirt, kicked it around a bit to make it look old, and claimed they bought it in 1997, when the team wasn’t good.
Don’t misunderstand me. Often, I wish all lessons could be learned from pastimes as trivial as baseball, but they can’t. What is important, however, is the context surrounding these pastimes. I learned important lessons about family, loyalty and history because of my frequent childhood trips to Fenway-not from baseball, but from the entire experience.
And after a horrible season for the Red Sox, I’m still here, hoping someone beats the Yankees in the playoffs.