There is nothing like putting on a clean pair of socks, whether they are brand new or right out of the dryer. Fresh, clean, warm socks on a cold wintry day make me feel comfy and cozy all over. They are my socks and no one can have them. Anyone who has taken gym class or played a sport, or has a YMCA membership knows that it is not cool to share one’s socks or wear someone else’s socks. It is not only un-cool, it’s down right nasty!
This is not the case with New Englanders and their beloved “hanging (RED) SOX.” The RED SOX are meant to be shared from one generation to the next. How many stories have you heard about a father passing on his love for his beloved RED SOX to his son, as did his father before him and his grandfather before him? Many of these stories were told after the RED SOX won the 2004 World Series and broke the “eighty-six-year old curse of the Bambino.” I heard sons express their heartfelt feelings, “A wish my dad was alive to experience and share this joy with me!” Fathers also expressed their relief, “I almost didn’t wake up my son in the ninth inning because I didn’t want to scar him for life, but I’m so glad I did! We were able to share the RED SOX winning the World Series together AT LAST!”
Everyone who is a “wicked big” RED SOX fan has their own unique story to tell. And now that we have experienced the RED SOX winning three World Series Championships, we have even more stories to tell about our beloved RED SOX and what their winning means to us. My RED SOX story is unique because, first of all, I’m a daughter and not a son. Secondly, I was the first person in the family who became a RED SOX fan. My fandom started in 1967, when the RED SOX won the American League Pennant, only to lose the World Series to the Cardinals. Thirdly, I passed on my love for baseball and the RED SOX to my mom, who was interested in everything I was interested in. My brother and sisters also became RED SOX fans, but they were not as fanatical (I prefer “loyal”) as I was. My dad, on the other hand, did not like baseball at all. He thought baseball players were paid far too much money and, as an ordinary “workman”, he worked harder than they ever did.
1967 was the year that began my long RED SOX journey filled with disappointment and heartache as the RED SOX lost year after year after year. Then in 1986, when I lived in a little town in New York, I invited Mets fans to come watch the sixth game of the World Series with me. I do not have to tell you what happened next. 1986 was the year I stopped watching baseball. I vowed that the RED SOX would never ever break my heart again.
After living for a short time in the state of New York, the Lord brought me back to my home town in Massachusetts, where I became very involved with my church. I lived alone for a long time, in a small apartment, in a town next to where my parents and my sister and her family lived. In the 1990’s my sister and her husband, who owned a two-family house, asked me if I would want to come live in the apartment below them, because their tenants were buying a home of their own and would be leaving soon. Of course I said YES. The Lord blessed me with a beautiful home, with space to have people over, and being close to my sister was an added bonus. In a few years, I decided to get housemates in the form of two kittens and all was going smoothly. I did not need baseball in my life. I was busy and happy and enjoying my independence.
[My friend Pam and I with the ’04 and ’07 Trophies]
In 2001, the whole world changed on September 11th. A month earlier, my family’s world changed when my dad had a stroke and became severely disabled. He was the one caring for my mom who was already disabled. My sister and I took our parents to live in my apartment and we both took care of them. When our dad died in 2003, there was a big hole in each of our hearts, especially my mom‘s. During my lonely days as a child with a disability, baseball was my safety net. Baseball was where I found something to do when the neighborhood kids were riding their bikes and playing “dodge ball“. Baseball was something to read about and learn about. The RED SOX team was something I could belong to and root for as a fan. The RED SOX were people I could think about, instead of thinking about myself. And the Lord would again use baseball and the RED SOX to help me deal with my grief by taking me out of my “lonely place” and give me something to cheer about. In 2003, at the gentle nudging of a good friend, I turned on the TV to the RED SOX game for the first time in decades, and I was hooked again. It’s like riding a bike – you never lose the ability to ride in the marathon that is baseball. Of course, the RED SOX lost that year, in another heartbreaker, but I vowed never to leave baseball or the RED SOX again, but just enjoy the ride.
Baseball helped all of us, my mom and sister and me, to have something to look forward to at the end of the day. My mom could not stay up to watch the night games. She had a TV in her bedroom, but she preferred to just listen to my friends and me, as we cheered for the RED SOX. When it got to be too quiet, she would shout from her bedroom, next to the living room, “I don’t hear any noise out there. What’s going on? How are the RED SOX doing?” When a RED SOX player hit a homerun, my sister would stomp on the floor above us and my mom would say, “What’s happening? Who hit a homerun?” When my friends came over to watch a RED SOX game, before my sister helped her into bed, my mom would reassure all of us that we didn’t have to keep quiet. She loved hearing us having fun. We did not realize how much she was really into the RED SOX until the December Johnny Damon went to the “dark side” (Yankees). We were all having coffee after opening presents on Christmas morning, when my sister from Oregon called to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas.” We were all stunned when the phone was given to my mom and her first words were not “Merry Christmas”, but “Hey Sophie, did you hear what the stupid jerk did?” My nephew almost spit out his coffee!
[Mom and grandson Luke Playing]
That was mom. She was always interested in what we were interested in. Every year, she wanted a calendar of bridges, because her youngest daughter is a civil engineer and worked on bridges. Her other daughter loved to cook, so mom was always the taste tester. Her son loved to fish and mom would always love to eat the fish he caught. And there was her oldest daughter, the crazy sports fan. Mom also became a crazy sports fan. That was mom, always interested in what her children were into, and that carrying over to being a grandmother and playing whatever her grandsons wanted to play.
It was such a special blessing to share the 2004 RED SOX World Series victory with my mom and sister Jane. We three were able to see the ’04 Trophy at a nearby park. I’ll never forget this tiny little woman, in a wheelchair, with a RED SOX cap on her head and a big smile on her face, looking at the BIG World Series Trophy in front of her nose. She looked up at us and said, “It’s so big! I hope they get to keep it.”
In 2007, mom could no longer travel very much, but my nephew took a photo of the three of us, on our porch, in front of celebratory RED SOX World Series Champion banners which Jane made, along with Wally, the “sweep” broom, red gloves, and a RED SOX Mr. Potato Head. Celebrating the second RED SOX World Series Championship with our mom was “SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!”
[Yes, that is a gargoyle in the top right corner]
In 2013, our beloved RED SOX have won a third World Series Victory in ten years. It is somewhat of a bitter-sweet time for Jane and me. Our loving mom Victoria went to be with the Lord in 2010. We are saddened by her absence and miss her smile and the “unique” ways she expressed herself. We also miss “the good” Damon, Jane’s sneazy-barky little Schnauzer. Jane got her Damon in 2004, the year he was born. Jane didn’t tell anyone, but she had a feeling the RED SOX would win the World Series in the last year of “the good” Damon’s life. It did happen.
There are other special reminders that happened during the 2013 World Series that are uniquely special to my sister and me. One of the RED SOX relief pitcher’s last name is Workman, and that reminded us of our dad. He was always proud of being a good workman. It was because of all his hard work and savings that we were able to care for our mom when he passed away. Also, the television broadcast would often show the sign for Ipswich Street. Ipswich was where our mom was born and she would often talk about it. Even though I am sad that our parents and Jane’s “shadow” Damon are not with us anymore, I am happy for all the pleasant memories we will always cherish together. I am also happy that, just as in 2004, my brother John and my friends Fran and Pam were with Jane and me (her husband banished her down to my house because she was too noisy. What up with that?) to share the pandemonium of another RED SOX WORLD SERIES VICTORY!!!
Throughout my life, my parents and baseball have taught me many lessons that I am still learning. My dad taught me the value of hard work and “family first.” Both my dad and mom taught me about unconditional love and thinking of others before myself. Baseball and especially the RED SOX have taught me “You win some, you lose some,” but always know that “the joy of victory” is worth “the agony of defeat.” Love and pain go hand in hand and everything is used of God to mold us into the people he wants us to be. Instead of playing it safe and never getting too close or too attached or too involved, God wants me to step out in faith and embrace all of life and enjoy and be thankful for all of God’s lessons, as well His blessings. I want to be able to say, “”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the Lord has taken away; may the Name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:20b). And OH, What a ride!
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:18, 28).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls…Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have a sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” I Peter 1:6-9, 22),
“For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in you knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:5-8).
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only me, but also all who have longed for His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).
[The Sunday after Halloween I gave out candy before Worship, Beard and all!]
As of this writing, there are about one hundred days before pitchers and catchers report to SPRING TRAINING. In the meantime, I have DVRed the four RED SOX wins, in the 2013 World Series and the Duck Boat Rolling Rally, to get me through baseball withdrawals. And, of course, I will now be better able to concentrate on Patriots Football and Bruins Hockey and pray for the Celtics. There are also college football and basketball that will get some of my attention. Did you notice how many sports are needed to replace the sport of BASEBALL? Anyway, I hope you will join me in celebrating the 2013 RED SOX WORLD CHAMPIONS for a little while longer, because we really don’t know when the next one will be. And here’s wishing that all your socks are fresh, warm, cozy and comfy all through the cold New England winter months.
A “Wicked Big” RED SOX Fan,