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.

NOVEMBER 2004
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.

24 Comments

Doris–This extraordinary blog has captured my life almost exactly. I have been a Red Sox fan since 1956, coming to baseball at the age of not-quite seven, interestingly enough, without a father who loved baseball, without a grandfather who loved baseball. It somehow came organically to me. In 1956, there were no pink hats, no lavender Red Sox shirts, no “cute little tank tops” sporting the Red Sox logo. It was decidedly unfashionable to be a baseball fan–unless, of course, you were one of those dreaded “tomboys,” which I was not. I was intrigued by the strategy I saw play itself out on the field. The father of one of my school friends had been a pitcher in the Yankee farm system in the late 1940s and had pitched a perfect game for them. His wife had made him choose between her and baseball. I couldn’t fathom this. I held him in such esteem every day when he went to work at the Fore River Shipyard, wondering if he asked himself with every piece of steel he welded if he had made the right choice.

I wrote a letter to the Boston Herald when I was in the sixth grade, and they published it. Entitled, “Why Don’t the Red Sox Bunt,” it made me proud to think that my opinion even made it to the desk of the editors. But I was the brunt of many jokes after that.

I just love this game. I go into withdrawal when he postseason is over. I don’t “do” football, so it’s really quite devastating for me when the long season ends.

The historic victory in 2004 led to many things. An albatross was lifted off the necks of us long-time fans, but it also opened up the floodgates of bandwagon fans who only care about winning. It’s about winning, of course, but not only about winning. It’s about strategy, it’s about loving the game, it’s about learning how to work together as a team, it’s about taking coaching from the “elders” and giving coaching to the rookies.

I will never look good in a pink hat or a lavender Red Sox tank top. I wouldn’t have looked good in one if such a thing had existed in 1966, the year I graduated from high school. But like you, I can be proud of my allegiance to this team, because they are yours, mine, and anyone else’s who believes in baseball.

Wanda

Dear Doris
Thank you throwing your hat into the ring, and starting this blog. In times of great change I think we need a historian to lead us in the future. You have my vote! The blog looks nice and reads very well. You should consider writing for a living.

I look forward to your next post.

The Boston Blogger

Doris,
I had to vote for you after reading your platform and relating so well to your feelings toward the Sox. Personally, I usually do a lot of housework when the big games get tight and the opposition is at bat. When things are really tight, I even clean the bathrooms – anything to take my mind off matters. Nevertheless, I watch as often as possible and hang in there until the bitter end (like tonite…down to 3 1/2 games over the Yankees!!!). Your 11/04 column eloquently describes just how and why I am going to enjoy the rest of this season and, please, please, please, post-season. I’ve been hooked on them since I was 11 years old in ’75 and after all the crushing letdowns, thrills and miracles, I am going to be loyal and attentive til the end. Good luck with your presidential election; maybe someone will write an historical account of YOUR administration! Fond regards, Janet

Hi Doris!
So happy to see you made the top ten. First woman president for sure! You have the Pye’s support and my brother and I are spreading the word.

Janet

Doris,

History is great — but, please address the fan issues if you want my vote

Greg

Okay, Doris, I enjoy your writing. But Greg is right: What would you, as president, do for the fans? What would you do vis-a-vis the Red Sox and the community? Many of the candidates who were in the first and second rounds had community-based ideas. What are yours?

Wanda

As Wanda said —

Funny, I thought I posted my questions here last night, apparently I didn’t because they weren’t here this morning.

In the event that there was a technical glitch, or a brain cramp on my part, I’ll post them again —

Congratulations on making it through to the top 10.

These were some of the issues that came up in MY campaign.

And I hope to see you tomorrow night at the BT!

Thanks!

1) Do you have any plans or ideas to make more game tickets available to fans, or any suggestions that the Sox ownership could carry out?

2) Have you looked into the current legislation on Beacon Hill concerning re-selling of tickets? What is your stance? Also, what of the StubHub-MLB alliance? Should the Sox enter into it?

3) Do you have any ideas as to how Red Sox Nation can be united not just socially, but for philanthropic purposes?

Finally, I do enjoy your writing, but this is not about journalism per se, this is about representing the fans. Even if you don’t win my vote, I will still enjoy your writing….

Best Regards

Greg

Yeah, that was before Eric Gag Me join our team. We would be up 8 games if it wasn’t for that guy. Great post though, I hoping to find some optimism in these dark days. I think this post puts you in my top 5.

Well, you got my vote, Doris — Good Luck!

Geoffrey in Conn.

http://geoffreymgolia.weblog.com

Doris, you can’t let RemDawg get away with questioning your credentials as a Red Sox fan on NESN as he has done recently. It’s not your fault you became a devoted Brooklyn Dodgers fan as a child in the 50’s because of your family’s proximity to Ebbetts Field where you attended games with your father. The key points are that a) you became a knowledgeable baseball lover, b) you were a passionate fan of another underdog team, and c) you despised the Yankees as much as any Bostonian! Many of us weren’t born in New England either but adopted the Red Sox wholeheartedly after we moved here and saw the light. Your dedication to the Red Sox predates RemDawg’s playing days for Boston (as I know from personal interactions with you dating back to the early 70’s), and I know you’ve been a season ticket holder for many years. As further proof of your qualifications, I reference your short but incredibly poignant article on the Red Sox heartbreaking 1986 loss in the context of your close father-daughter relationship and the connection across generations to your sons. It is one of the most emotional baseball pieces I’ve ever read, not far behind Giammati’s “Green Fields of the Mind.” You quote a few lines from that article in your blog, but I hope you will post all of it so RemDawg and every RSN voter can read– and feel– the true depth of your passion and loyalty. Rob in Concord

A storied franchise such as the Rod Sox deserves a great historian to preside over the nation. Doris, you are just the ticket!

WSF

Rob in Concord is right. Jerry Remy who has turned NESN into his private soapbox maligns Doris as a Dodger fan. Tonight he said electing Doris Goodwin would be like electing Tommy LaSorda. What nonsense! A little girl growing up idolizing Jackie Robinson is no crime. Doris has been a rabid Red Sox fan for more than 30 years.
M

Doris’s eloquence about her love for the Red Sox proves to me that she is a true Red Sox fan. The fact that her father was a Brooklyn Dodgers’ fan and shared with her his love of baseball shows an incredible bond, a special love for the game. She was never a Yankee fan! She loved Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson. She has instilled the love of the Red Sox in her children and has begun a dynasty. As a mother who has done the same while raising my children in New York (they have since moved to Boston–lucky stiffs), I admire that.

I would also like to add that “RemDawg” is in fact not a real dog. He has no tail and slightly less fur and should stop imdoganating.

Big Pupi

Doris,

First off, I absolutely enjoyed reading “Team of Rivals”.

I am a devoted Yankee fan for over 15 years now. I actually was a METS fan for several years before that. To become devoted to a “new” team doesn’t depreciate that devotion any less. Yes, I can remember my rooting-like-heck ways whenever Darryl Strawberry would step up to bat or the incredible ecstasy I experienced when the METS won in ’86.

But that seems long, long ago. Yankees are my team now and most likely will be for the rest of my life.

Do I regret being a METS fan? Absolutely not. But that was the past.

So, Doris, don’t pay any attention to the “grew-up-a-Brooklyn Dodgers-fan” debate facing you. You were a Dodgers fan and it was probably special for you THEN. But this is now.

That said….Go Yankees!!

Doris, I’m with you!!! You have all of my votes.
Please be strong and stick with the guys. You can’t run out and not watch the game when things get dicey.

PS you have to say a nice little prayer for the Rockies

Thanks for your reminder that history CAN repeat itself, and your faith that it WILL. Down with the Dawg!! Go Doris!!
~Shannon

Doris, you definitely have my vote. My father gave me “Wait Till Next Year” when I was in college and I loved it. It brought me back to my childhood growing up with the Red Sox. My dad passed away in October of 2003 and I re-read your book. I looked at it very differently. Baseball isn’t just a sport. It was something I shared with my father and those memories I have with him are ones I will cherish forever. Reading “Wait Till Next Year” after my dad passed away brought smiles, tears, and laughter for different reasons. That passion is just what RSN needs in a president. Best of luck!

Let’s not ‘wait till next year’….Doris would be a devoted and dynamic leader for sox fans everywhere. Go Red Sox! Go Doris! –A.

Only a true fan knows what it?s like to be a supporter of teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers or the Boston Red Sox. And only a true fan is qualified to lead this great institution. This historic election ? the one that will choose the first President of Red Sox Nation ? has only one real candidate. An individual who will lead with grace, class, style, and a true sense of history ? Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Woody

Here’s a vote from the Western fringes of Red Sox Nation out in San Francisco, Doris. I love your writing and your devotion to the Sox.

I grew up with my father’s love of Ted Williams and of the Sox, despite being a native San Franciscan. I picked up his devotion in 1975 when I was 10 and have never stopped loving them. I just wish Dad could have lived to have seen them win in 2004. Then again, I like to think that he did and he had the best view around.

Good luck, Doris!

Doris-
I just love your blog and your spirit, and I wish you all the best in the campaign.

I think I was the first to endorse you, Doris, and you’re still my choice for President. Your sense of history combined with your loyalty to the Sox convinces me you’re the one for the job. Best of luck in the debate–you know Russert can be tough!!

Doris~

Way to go girl!!

You are my first choice for president

Go Sox!

You have my vote

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