My Dad took me to my first Red Sox game at Fenway in 1978. He walked me up the ramp through the fog of sausage-steam into sunsplashed green, sat my then-narrow ass down (as I recall, we were somewhere in the right-field grandstands), and told me to pay attention. He pointed out Pesky’s Pole and the scoreboard and where Fisk’s ’75 series homer went and where he used to sit when he’d come to the park after classes at Northeastern. He showed me how to keep score and how to flag down the hotdog guy and the best times to beat the crowds downstairs to take a leak. He kept me well-packed with soda and popcorn and whatnot, then, after the game, as we walked past one of the memorabilia stands, he told me to pick something out. So I picked out a round pin with Jim Rice and Fred Lynn on it, and Dad bought it for me. I never wore it (I wasn’t much of a “pin” guy, much as I wasn’t much of a “pants” guy), but I kept it displayed on my dresser. And it came with me to college, then grad school, because I just got used to seeing the goddam thing every morning when I woke up. Now I’m in my own house, with a mortgage, a job and a commute that is slowly killing me. And that pin is in my office, on my desk, staring back at me every time I sit down to post on this blog. Partly because I’m a big Rice buff. But mostly because it always takes me back to my first ballgame with Dad.
A close second is a poster I’ve got of a Herald cover from October 16, 1999, trumpeting game three of the ALCS, AKA Rocket vs. Pedro. We already dropped the first two in New York and things were looking grim. But Petey was our muscle that season, the guy we all got behind when we needed someone to steer us clear of bad vibes and Chuck Knoblauch. Turns out we pasted Rog but good that game — hell, even Jose Offerman got into the action, belting a first-inning triple and sparking the offense. We also launched the now-famous “Where is Roger?” chant, a favorite at campfires and CYO meetings across New England. Sure, game three was the only highlight of that wretched series, but the poster’s still on my wall, as it captures all the angst and urgency of that game so well. The bottom part of the poster even touts an “undercard” of “Nomar Garciaparra vs. Derek Jeter” and my personal favorite, “Fenway Faithful vs. Darryl Strawberry” — a not-so-subtle way of inciting the crowd to bold new heights of heckling.
So those are mine. Yours?