“Growing up as a Red Sox fan was very different than you millennials who can stomach a sprinkling of gap year and last place finishes with your three duck boat parades in the last 12 years. For me it was just a glimmer of hope that grew to belief to expectation of success, only to end up being stolen away violently when you were just about to cross into the winners circle.
Being a Sox fan reminded me of the only good line form Godfather part 3, “ Every time I think I am out they pull me back in” And damn did they have some awesome bait over the years to rope us in and think this is going to be the year, until the inevitable calls to WEEI around mid July “They are ruining our SUMMAH”
From the time I started watching the Sox when I was 12 years old 1975 it was special; Fred Lynn and Jim Rice the Golddust twins, they were rookie of the year and MVP candidates. It was a perfect season, but in true RED SOX CURSE fashion Rice gets hit by a pith in late September, breaks his arm, and is out for the playoffs–an omen for sox fortune the next 29 years.
They say that the ’75 WS was special they say it brought baseball back.
I remember my whole family–parents, uncles and aunts Grandparents–all gathered around to watch the World Series. I remember President Nixon and I guess Fidel Castro granted permission for Luis Tiant’s father to come to Boston from Cuba to watch Luis pitch in the World Series.
Then there was Game 6, the first amazing game of a young fan’s career.
Lynn smashes into the CF wall and gets hurt, a drunk and stoned (we later found out) Bernie Carbo replaces him and hits a HR to bring the sox back, Dewy Evans makes a catch that saves a HR by Joe Morgan and Mr rocket for an arm doubles off Ken Griffey Sr by throwing him out from the death valley of right field.
Then up comes Carlton Fisk.
The funny story is that we were in extra innings and my dad makes me go to bed, says this is going to take all night. So like a defiant 12 year old after they all go to bed I sneak downs stairs see the Evans’ incredible double play and Fisk comes up the next inning and cracks the famous Monstah shot that wins the game; fans running on the field at Fenway mobbing Fisk while he is running the bases. It didn’t matter they blew it and lost Game 7, I was hooked for life.
That led to the fellowship of the miserable for almost 30 years; the 77 and 78 teams, the Boomer, Yaz, Dewey, Rice, Lynn Fisk and Hobson batting 9th and cracking 30 HR along with the arrival of the Eck. But it is hard to win a WS with only one decent pitcher (right 2016 Sox?).
And manager Don Zimmer didn’t pitch his ace in the one game playoff with the Yankees because he wanted to save him for game 1 vs KC. The arrival of the Rocket gave us hope, but only to have it go down in flames through Buckner’s legs in 86. It was the same old story every year, just with a new cast of characters and a new way to let us down.
But 2003 was different; like a true Sox pessimist I was not expecting to win, but we had Yankee killer Big Papi in his first playoff series with the Sox, and bam what a series. Remember the shaved heads and all of a sudden it looks like we are finally going to win and get to the WS and end the 85 year long drought. Game 7 we chased Roger out and we had Pedro going with a lead. All through the playoffs Grady Little had his bullpen working to perfection: Williamson set up in the 8th and Timlin close in the 9th. But for some reason Grady leaves Pedro in to pitch the 8th, he gives up the lead, we go to extra innings and Arone Boone takes Wake deep to send the Sox home just as we were about to celebrate in Boston.
Then there is 2004. The year that changed everything. We had the pitching: Pedro, Schilling, and Lowe. Built for the playoffs, we had a lineup featuring Manny and Papi–come on, this was the year, until we fell apart against the Yankees in the ALCS. I was at a Boy Scout sleeper over camp with the young future founder of Monstah Mash sitting out in a tent listening to game 3 on the radio, yes that was before iPhones and streaming, and I said, Tyler, I’m sorry I did this to you, I brought you up as a Sox fan now you have to face a lifetime of misery.
But that was only game 3, and as Kevin Millar said, don’t let us win this game cause we may just shock the world. Thus started an amazing week of no sleep late night drama that made all the depressing defeats worth it and gave birth to Red Sox Nation as it is now.”