Thursday, October 25, 2007

A fan comes clean

Note: This bout of honesty comes due to the writings of one Dan Shanoff, who had a great blog post today about becoming a fan, and what really matters. Made me think. It is highly recommended reading, and is available HERE.

This is hard for me to admit, as by merely admitting what I'm about to admit, I will be admitting to lies that stretch back to my teens, at least, and maybe farther. Here goes.

My father was not a Red Sox fan.

Which means I didn't inherit my love of the Sox from my father. Didn't spend sun-drenched days in Fenway, watching the Sawx do battle in the middle of summer. My father wasn't from Worcester, Massachusetts, like I always claimed. We didn't have the wonderful father - son relationship, straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Dad was from Scottsdale, Arizona.

His team was the Dodgers. The Los Angeles Dodgers.

Don't get me wrong: I love the Boston Red Sox. I do. But I didn't come by them in the usual ways.

My mother is the one responsible for my love of the Red Sox. It's true.

I never lived in Boston, or on the Eastern seaboard. I'm a Western US kind of kid. I can't imagine living in a place so small, so cramped, and without mountains (and with the big dig. Ugh). But when I was young (somewhere between the ages of 8 and 11, I believe), mom and I went out to Boston to see her college friend, her husband, and her son.

It was September.

The Sox were in contention.

And when we took the T down to Fenway, I was blown away.

Yawkey Way, full of people, with the smell of sausages and peanuts and popcorn and beer and baseball... the cheerful sounds of "Go SOX!" as you walked through the crowd. I knew then that I would always be a Red Sox fan.

And then I saw the inside of the stadium. My, that stadium. Fenway Park is the greatest ballpark on the face of the planet. It is baseball's cathedral. The size, the proximity of fan to player, the wall, all make it... well... the most special place on the planet to see a baseball game. You think that, at any minute, Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski or Jimmie Foxx is going to walk of the dugout to take a few cuts at the plate.

My life would never be the same again.

I brought home more merchandise than any 8-11 year old kid should be allowed. A Red Sox poster that featured the likes of Oil Can Boyd, Mike Greenwell, and the immortal Wade Boggs. A Sox hat. A tee shirt with "The Hunt for Red October" silk-screened on the front.

From that day forth, I was a Red Sox fan. And in spite of giving my dad all the credit for that choice, my mom is really who is responsible.

That said, it's tough to follow your team when you live 3000 miles away. With a 162 game season, it's damn near impossible. Remember, this was before DirecTV and the baseball package. The Sox became my "AL team."

My NL team? Why, the upstart Colorado Rockies, of course.

I'm a Denver guy. When we got pro baseball in Denver, it was a very exciting time. I finally made it to a game at Old Mile High, late in that first 1993 season. I don't remember much, except that I liked the uniforms, and I loved the team. These guys had come out of nowhere: Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Joe Girardi... who were these guys?

Answer: they were the sign that Denver was finally moving beyond just a cowtown. They were a sign of progress. The National Pastime, in Denver! Pro ball! Major League City!

The Rockies fans set a record for attendance that year. More than 4 million people went through the turnstiles. We weren't very good, but we weren't supposed to be.

I've since kept my eye on the Rockies. I love going to the stadium downtown, and at one point actually worked at Coors Field. For my money, and I don't have much, there's nothing better than the baseball stadium on a sunny, summer day. Being bathed in sun with a great, upper deck view of the Rockies, enhanced by the view of the Rockies (and vice versa) has no equal, in my opinion.

Call it what you will. Am I a turncoat for rooting for the Rockies in this World Series? Maybe. But when someone asks from now on who I root for, it'll always start one way:

"I have two teams."


ramblin' girl said...

I do love the view from the stadium... the rox better start winning so I can see it one more time this year!

cool pic here... for a cell phone, anyway...

Lauren said...

fantastic post.