Thursday, April 26, 2012
One Step Closer to Fanhood
I went to a ball park the other day. In the eyes of the world it would have been a historic game, if it weren't for the rain.
The park was Fenway. The teams were the Red Sox and the Yankees. The game would have been their first match in Fenway's 100th year.
I've never been a sports fan, so this wouldn't normally mean much to me.
But here I am, living in Massachusetts where the Sox logo shows up on everything from license plates to hats, from jackets to coffee mugs. The Sox are not so much team as hope, dream, and inspiration.
For most of my life, the closest professional sports team to home was the Buffalo Bills. I saw the blue and red Buffalo logo there, but it wasn't the same. Part of it is that I wasn't paying attention. Part of it is that New Englanders are different from Western New Yorkers. And part of it is that I didn't have exposure to the family lure, lore, and connection to a team.
Now I do.
DiDi's family is a Red Sox family. Her dad -loved- the Sox. Watching games together was a sacred time and space. She grew up associating the sport and the team with her father, with sharing. DiDi's beloved Nana lived in Massachusettes, which increased the draw. Her whole family are Sox fans. Her daughter is a Sox fan. Her nephews are Sox fans. Her sisters are Sox fans.
DiDi's 50th birthday was this past week. Her nephew and his lovely wife decided to surprise DiDi by visiting from Florida, bringing tickets for the Yankees game with them.
A few days before their arrival, Fenway televised its 100th anniversary celebration. DiDi watched it, and I caught bits and pieces while trying to hide the fact that I was preparing for guests. It was touching, even though I have no connection to the park. It was moving to see elderly players mixing with current, listening to stories, seeing the fans packing the stadium and hearing their cheers. I tried to get it.
On the day of the game, it rained. And rained. And rained. Our Florida visitors tried to be cheerful. It would have been the first time they'd been to Fenway, a bucket list item.
Not to mention the cost.
We decided to head down and tour the park, regardless of what was going to happen with the game.
And that's when I started to get it.
The city was soaked, rain falling harder than ever. The game was called. People in red and blue were everywhere, cracking jokes, bitching, heading into nearby restaurants and the gift shop. Fans of all ages, shapes and sizes.
We went on the tour, and I watched DiDi and her family as they passed by Ted Williams' red seat, gazed out from the top of the Green Monster, and looked at 100 years of balls, bats, and uniforms. I listened as they replayed moments from famous games.
At the end of the tour, a young man took the guide's microphone and made an announcement. He'd planned to handle it another way, during the game. But his plans were also rained out. His girlfriend walked up in tears, Red Sox cap perched atop her cute little head, and accepted the ring he offered. The rest of us burst into applause and cheers.
There was an amazing unity among those of us on the tour. We didn't know eachother, but were somehow kin. I expected it to be kitchy, and maybe it was.
I still can't call myself a fan. I was not born and raised to follow sports. But after this weekend, I'm one step closer to getting it.