Friday, March 27, 2009

ON SPORTS ~ Roots - Part I


Roots, Part I:

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and became a diehard Red Sox fan. I mean the kind of fan who actually chose this team as an adult - when World Series victories were 70 years in the past. The kind of fan who watches every game – EVERY GAME – there are 162 of them plus (hold your breath & cross your fingers) October playoffs. If for some reason beyond my control I am forced to be away from a televised game I have the list of Sox broadcast radio stations in my possession that I can tune to for Joe’s call of the game. In fact, if the National yahoos who can’t keep up with my own commentary of the team are the TV broadcasters, I put it on mute and turn up my radio gurus at work. If – and this is a horrifying if – I am out of radio broadcast range and the game is not televised where I am – I seek out any means possible to monitor the game – internet, newspaper, even random people in baseball hats.

But I digress. How did a good Tarheel become a Sox fan? I got dragged North – to Yankee land as my grandfather used to say. In fact – horror of horrors – my first exposure to baseball was...the Yankees! After living my first seven years in North & South Carolina – my family’s homeland – my father took a job transfer opportunity to New Jersey. I was the hit of the neighborhood kids standing on a picnic table so they could hear me talk funny. I saw snow for the first time – a little something called the Blizzard of ’78. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the snowfall & drifts really WERE as gigantic as things usually feel as a little kid. Then, once winter finally ended, there was this field trip that my Dad & my best friend’s Dad took us to – of all places – Yankee Stadium.

I was blind. Reluctantly I was introduced to glasses. These were going to help me do everything from ride a bike to see the blackboard. But as the new kid on the block I was not convinced they would help me make and keep my friends. So – after my teacher ratted me out to my parents about how I needed them to see the board (I had been wearing them as I walked out of my house and promptly taking them off out of eyeshot of the house) – I was forced to wear them ALL the time. Guess what – I learned to ride a really cool Evil Knieval bike that my Dad had to put together, could actually see & read the blackboard and follow what the hell the teacher was teaching – and FORGOT them when I made my first entrance into a ballpark.

I still remember it though. Sometimes when I wake up and maneuver around without my glasses on I like to think things are a bit more interesting that way. They’re very fuzzy so I do my best to create an image of what things should look like. If I really need to see reality I just squint real hard – or put on my glasses. That’s kind of what being a Sox fan was like for so many years.

So I walked up a ramp in Yankee Stadium with fuzzy vision. And OH – it was BEAUTIFUL! Yes, I was more concerned with cotton candy & hotdogs & soda & foam fingers – but – OH – I will never forget that gift that my Dad gave me of a ballpark. I don’t know who the Yankees were playing – or who won – but I will ALWAYS remember the experience of seeing a big league ballpark for the first time – fuzzy or not.

My mother taught my little brother to say Yankees STINK (which these days has turned into SUCK). I’m so very glad that she did. We moved away from Yankee land later that year to Ohio. I had no allegiances and forgot about baseball – temporarily. The Indians were nothing to root for after all.


Sandy Nawrot said...

You know, you need write a book or something. I'm hooked already. I knew you were a huge Red Sox fan, but I guess I didn't quite appreciate the level of love involved. I can't wait to hear how Molly got into the middle of this. (I always think of Fever Pitch when you start talking baseball!)

Alison said...

Go Sox! I started back when Yaz was around. My dad introduced us to the games on Saturday afternoons on an old black and white tv. And in the winter... there was hockey!

Sandy Nawrot said...

BTW, I have thrown some positive karma your way this morning! Come on over and pick it up!

Literary Feline said...

What wonderful memories! My grandfather was a diehard Dodger fan and many of my favorite memories with him was going to Giant/Dodger games with him and the rest of the family. I was always a Giant fan, living in that part of the state at the time. We had a friendly rivalry going. Sometimes I'll root for the Dodgers in his memory--but not if they're playing the Giants. :-)