Baseball is about to commence. Another Spring where the hopes of all fans spring eternal. This particular spring is different from the past 108. The Chicago Cubs are champions; and their fans sit on top of the baseball world. As with the start of every season the past couple decades, I root for the Cubs in the National League and I root for the Red Sox in the American League. Sadly, this will be the first one in a very long time that Big Papi won’t be suiting up for our beloved Bosox. Along with Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, Bill Russell and Larry Bird (and now arguably Tom Brady), Big Papi stands alongside the Mount Rushmore of the other Boston sports legends. I’m reminded of my first visit to Fenway, almost ten years ago.
At 6:55 AM on 30 August 2007, I had just come back to Chicago after spending the previous day in Boston.
“Yesterday, I lived my ‘Field of Dreams’. In Boston, I took a tour of historic Fenway Park. Built in 1912 in the heart of the Fenway District in Boston on Brookline & Yawkey Way, Fenway Park stood for all that is good in baseball. Our tour took us to not a bad seat in the house, even the original cramped blue wooden seats. From the upper deck seats along the first baseline to the rooftop right-field seats to the most expensive seats along the EMC and State Street Pavillion to the most sought-after seats in baseball above the Green Monster. Throughout the tour, our guide’s speech was peppered with history from the first game they won in the 11th inning against the New York Highlanders (later known as the Yankees) to Williams’ 502 foot jack that knocked out a Yankees fan (who in the hospital converted to the Red Sox, begging the headlines the next day ‘Williams homerun knocks some sense to a former Yankees fan!’) to the sale of Babe Ruth and 15 other players transforming the Bosox from a dynasty that had won five of the first fifteen World Series to the worst team in baseball to Pesky’s Pole in right field to Fisk’s Pole in left, the sight of the most famous home run in Red Sox history to the retired numbers of Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Carl Yazstremski, Ted Williams, and Jack Robinson, which brings me to…
Standing atop the Green Monster in the sweltering heat under the merciless sun sweating profusely through my shirt, the tour guide has just finished describing Fisk’s shot and moved into the retired jersey… when she said ‘…the man known as Teddy Ballgame, the Splendid Splinter, the Kid, the Greatest Left-Handed Hitter in the history of baseball — Ted Williams,’ chills just went down my spine.”
Originally written 20 February 2017
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