Boy, the way Glenn Miller played. Songs that made the Hit Parade. Guys like us, we had it made. Those were the days. -All In The Family
Public Service Announcement: OK, here we go! The Boston Red Sox. My Team. Always have been. Always will be. We go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong. Remembered for ever like shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom. Sherman, set the Way Back Machine to 1977. Ahhh 1977. Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah. Star Wars. Elvis dies. Sir Duke. The Red Sox. We’ve all seen Bronx is Burning. I saw it too. I saw it first hand. I saw it from the other side. The Fenway side. Youngest of six. Youngest of four boys. My father’s favorite words: Take Josh with you. Oh, you’re going to the donkey basketball game, take Josh with you. Oh, you’re going roller-skating, take Josh with you. Oh you’re going to the Red Sox, take Josh with you. And take me they did.
The summer of 1977 was my initiation into Red Sox Nation. It’s when I began this unnatural fixation. Sure, I was a fan before. Went to games before. Followed the team before. 1975. World Series. My fifth grade class takes a field trip to Camp Wingate. Nature camp. Cape Cod. No TV. No electricity. No nothing. Luckily, I brought my little transistor radio. El Tiante and Don Gullet locked in a scoreless pitching duel. I’m going nuts. Camp Counselor: Um, I’m sorry, no radios. Me: Are you out of your godammed mind! Camp Counselor: Um, no. If you want to listen to the game, you’ll have to do it outside. So be it.
In my footsy PJs out in the woods. Listening to the Red Sox. Listening to El Tiante batting in a game for the first time in my life. He led off with a single. I screamed. He later scored the Red Sox’ first run on a single by Yaz. Carl Yastrzemski. Carl Yastrzemski. The man we call Yaz! The Sox won that game 6-0. And I heard the whole thing by myself in the woods in my footsie pajamas. All of ten years old. So the Sox and I had some history. But we weren’t intimate. Not yet.
Fast forward to ’77. That summer, my three brothers, myself, and an ensemble cast from the neighborhood, went to just about every home week-end game. We’d walk to Watertown Square. We’d get on the number 57 bus. We’d watch suburbia turn into skyscrapers. We’d get off the bus at the last stop. Kenmore Square. Fenway Park. Heaven. Baby you’re all that I want. When you’re lying here in my arms. I’m finding it hard to believe. We’re in heaven. I was in heaven.
In those days, there were no advanced sales bleachers. You could only get tickets the day of the game. My brothers would give me the money and I’d proceed to cut into the front of line. I was just a little kid. What was anyone gonna do? And that’s how it went. Week-end after week-end. We were there when Billy Martin yanked Reggie out of right field. We watched the dugout fireworks with our binoculars. That same series the Sox tore into the Yankees to set a three game record of sixteen homeruns. Sixteen. Fan-tastic! One of them a Yaz bomb down the right field line off the facade. To this day, it’s the highest home run I’ve ever seen. Ever.
That week-end in June was when I was truly hooked. Chicks may dig the longball, so do little kids. I remember the first inning of that historic week-end. Remember it like it was yesterday. Rick Burleson. The Rooster. Gone! Freddy Lynn. The apple of Boston’s eye. To get number 19 in little league, you had to be good. Real Good. Freddy Lynn. Gone! Carlton Fisk. The Original Pudge. Gone! George Scott. The Boomer. The best defensive first baseman I’ve ever seen. Gone! All in the first inning. The rest of that season was a blur. It just went so fast.
Fourth of July. The Boston Red Sox ended a nine game losing streak by smashing a then record-tying eight bombs against the Blue Jays. Seven of them, solo shots. Another record. Four bombs in one inning. Lynn and Scott each had two. Get the papers, get the papers. Big Jim Ed Rice, Yaz, Butch Hobson and Bernie Carbo had one each. Rice’s a monster shot over the centerfield flagpole. My goodness! The Sox go on an eleven game tear. Clutch Bernie Carbo pinch hits a tater to beat the Angels. Jim Willoughby recovering from a broken ankleâ€š is the winner.
By late August, the Yankees had overtaken the Red Sox. They went on to win the World Series. I didn’t care. I didn’t have a deep rooted for the Yankees yet. I did have deep devotion to my Red Sox. From Pudge to Bob Montgomery. Bob Montgomery who never wore a batting helmet. From the Rooster to Rick Miller. From the Boomer to Yaz. From Hobson to Rice. From Denny Doyle to Freddy Lynn. El Tiante to Dewey Evans. Thank heavens for Dwight Evans. A cannon of an arm. A rocket of an arm. Put his arm on top of some fricken sharks heads. From Fergie Jenkins to the Spaceman. That was my team. The Red Sox are my team. My team, your team, we all scream for ice cream. I scream for the Boston Red Sox. And I’ll never stop.
Peace out homies. Six Two and Even!