When YF posted at the beginning of the year that this could possibly be the “best season ever”, I am not sure he had in mind a Red Sox championship, nor the manner in which it was won. I am not sure he thought the best season ever would include the first-ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit, or that such a comeback would happen in his own backyard, at the hand of his hated rivals. But YF was right – this has been the best season ever, at least from my standpoint. From the birth of our son Isaac, to the improbable comeback against the Yankees, to the annihilation of both the fabled curse and the supposedly mighty Cardinals in the Fall Classic, this October has been a month never to forget, and this season one for the storybooks. Most definitely, the best ever.
Growing up in Boston, I had the luck to be born into a family with season tickets and a passion for the Sox. From my mom I inherited the nearly irrational emotional component of my fandom, and from my dad I was introduced to a more analytical and rational fascination with the numbers and the strategy of the game. My father’s family has held seats on the first base line since the 1940s, and I grew up with easy access to these seats, as well as a grandfather who was friends with the Red Sox press secretary in the 1960s and 1970s. As such, my first ever Fenway Park experience was with him, on the field in 1974 at the age of 5, a miniature bat in hand given to me by Yaz himself. What followed, over the next thirty years has been a mountain range of emotion, filled with peaks of joy and valleys of exasperation. From Bernie Carbo (my sister’s fave) to Pudge’s homer to Bucky F’in Dent to Clemens’ first 20K effort against Seattle to the miraculous David Henderson home run against the Angels and the subsequent disaster of 1986 to Pedro’s masterpiece against Cleveland in the playoffs to sitting in the Oakland Airport last year when Aaron Boone hit his home run, 3000 miles from my new wife with nobody to talk to, I have been through great moments of diamond history and the sad events of baseball tragedy. Last night made all of those peaks and valleys more meaningful, not less. The championship heightened my awareness of the amazing history that I have with this team, and it has contextualized all of the excitement, joy, and heartbreak within a frame of reference that brings scale to it all. I now know what it is like to root for the best. I now know what it is like to see that last out of the World Series happen for you, not against you.
It has been a long wait for me – 29 years since my first vivid memory of being at Fenway Park, and longer still for my uncles, aunts, and parents. My mom and I were on the edge of tears when I called home last night, and my stoic father said “it’s not worth crying about”. Some part of me knows that, despite his firm exterior, he’s smiling on the outside, and yelling and crying for joy on the inside. I am not a religious or drippily sentimental person, but last night I couldn’t help but think of my family and friends, and specifically of my late grandfather Art who took me to my first game and Stu, my best friend from high school who was killed on 9/11 in the WTC and who grew up, like me, sitting on the first base line of Fenway, living and sinking with the Olde Towne Team, and how we never got to see a World Championship together. Somehow, our memories of them are part of this title, of this wonderful year, and in some strange way these two old fans must now be complete. Thanks, Red Sox, for the best season ever.