Finding Strength in Our History
In the anxious weeks ahead it is important for us to draw strength from the memory of our triumph in 2004, to know that what we accomplished then can be accomplished again ? this year, this fall! In keeping with that spirit, I am attaching here an article that I wrote in the wake of the World Series win as a reminder of the great spirit that we shared during that glorious time. By the way, it?s been fun hearing from you about the superstitions we share, the crazy ways we handle the stress of tight games.
My sons were still boys when the Sox lost the World Series in 1986. They had not lived through the heartbreaking losses in 1967 and 1975. They had not witnessed Bucky Dent?s bloop homerun in 1978. Finding me in tears, they rushed to console me. ?Don?t worry, Mom, they?ll win next season.? I didn?t have the heart to remind them that we hadn?t won since 1918, and that the chance might never come again in our lifetime. Forcing a smile, I said. ?That?s right, there?s always another season.? There would be time enough, I thought, for them to learn a harsher truth. But not yet. Not till they?re older. Then, as they continued their concerned assurances, I realized that my mature wisdom was a deception. They were right. They were absolutely right. There would be another season. There would be another chance.
That chance came in 2004 ? a season that will occupy our imagination for as long as we live. While reason suggests that we won the World Series because, in the end, we had better pitching than the Cardinals, those of us who still hold to the belief that the actions of the fans influence the fortunes of the team can take heart from the strange dynamic between the fans and the players that developed in the course of the miraculous surge.
It took hold, I suggest, because this group of players believed so strongly in themselves that they cast a spell upon us, and once we truly believed in them, it redoubled their strength. The best men, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, thinking of her husband, retain all their lives, a lot of the little boy in them. This team played like boys ? high-spirited, fun loving, confident boys, untroubled by past demons, enjoying every minute of the game. Even before they won it all, they had transformed us from cowards assuming the worst into bravehearts expecting the best.
The transformation was not easy. I was still my old self during the Anaheim series. When the Angels were up with men on base, I became so agitated that I had to leave the room, hoping that when I returned, the inning would be over and we?d be up at bat. When Anaheim scored five runs in the seventh inning of the third game, I was sure the downhill slide had begun. We?d lose this one, and the next one and the one after that. But David Ortiz had different thoughts in mind when he came to bat in the bottom of the tenth, cranking out our generation?s shot heard round the world.
Old habits die hard. After each of the first three losses to the Yanks, I couldn?t bear to read the newspaper, even though I was supposed to be commenting on the election. Thoughts of my first confession resurfaced ? when I had to tell the priest that I wished harm to others, namely that when I said my prayers at night I wished that various New York Yankees would fall down their stoops, cutting their knees, spraining their ankles, or even breaking their legs.
But while I was consumed with darkness, our boys of summer had the character and heart to see us through. The improbable win in game four led to the thrilling victory in game five. Watching games six and seven with a dozen friends, I no longer felt the need to run away when the Yanks were up ? well, not quite true. In the seventh game I suffered a temporary relapse, running coatless into the night air at a critical moment. The cheers from our frenzied group carried me back to enjoy the rest of the game and then the spectacular moment when we finally, finally, beat the Yanks.
From that moment on, I was no longer afraid. I watched every play of every inning of the four games with the Cardinals, never once closing my eyes or running away. The gutsy team had altered my image of myself as a fan. Gone was the constant dread that had been my companion through decades of loving the Sox. The players? exuberant faith in themselves was contagious. Whatever happened they would see us through. And they surely did, bringing us an historic victory that, with luck, may have forever altered our temperaments as Red Sox fans.