Pitchers and catchers reported this week and we are but a matter of days removed from the full squads arriving for spring training. Ah spring when hope beats in the human heart and the promise of October lingers, a perpetual whisper.
For the next six weeks all of baseball will be tied in first place as kids and “old men” reach; kids for their dreams and “old men” for one more ride on the merry-go-round.
This year brings an added excitement as the new and the old mingle. The new Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers Florida welcomes the Red Sox before they make their way north to play in Fenway Park for her 100th season!
As is often the case in spring; my thoughts turn to my dad and my mind is awash with memories of the times we shared at, among and with Fenway Park and the Red Sox.
There was that first game in the summer of 1959. I don’t remember who they played, I don’t even remember if they won but forever emblazoned in my mind is that first look of Fenway Park’s emerald blanket below the twinkling of diamonds. “That’s left field and that’s where Ted Williams plays”.
There was Memorial Day in 1961 when Dad, my brother and I met with Dad’s best friend Bob and his two kids. It was my first live look at the Yankees and boy they were a site to see. By days end I had seen Mickey Mantle hit two home runs, “Moose” Skowron hit two home runs, Yogi Berra hit a home run and I saw Roger Maris hit home runs number 10 and 11 on his way to a record-setting 61 home run season. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1961/B05300BOS1961.htm
Roger Maris heads to the Yankee dugout at Fenway.
There was that night just a couple of months later when we watched the Red Sox fleet-footed center fielder Gary Geiger hit an inside the park grand slam home run. He scorched one down the right field line and when the ball got by Twins right fielder Bob Allison, Geiger just turned on the jets. In that same game Dad nearly snagged a foul ball, as it deflected off his hand leaving a damaged thumb. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1961/B08080BOS1961.htm
There was that night in June of 1962 when we huddled in front of the black and white Zenith. Earl Wilson was pitching against the Angels and my older brother had gone to the game with a friend. Dad and I watched history unfold as Wilson spun a no-hitter against the Halos and just for good measure knocked one over the screen for a home run along the way. He was the first black pitcher to hurl a no-no in the history of the American League. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1962/B06260BOS1962.htm
Then came the summer in 1998, his last. Sitting next to him on his bed at Mass General Hospital watching the Sox lose to the Phillies. It is somehow appropriate that the last game we watched together was a loss, for it was within so many Red Sox losses of the early 1960s that he taught me of loyalty, of perseverance, of fate and enduring. And a few weeks later on a warm August night Paul and I stood at Pesky’s Pole and scattered a smattering of Dad’s ashes on the consecrated grounds of our beloved Fenway Park.
Fourteen springs have given way to fourteen summers and two October’s have brought the Fenway Faithful the World Championships which Dad never tasted; but he was with me as I sat in my chair, my son on the phone, when Keith Folke stabbed Edgar Renteria’s ground ball ending 86 years of anguish. He was with me then as he is with me now, I hear him in the sounds of spring!
So those of you who still can, give Dad a call today and just say hey, and those who can’t, take comfort in the knowledge that those we carry in our hearts, are never gone from us.
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, February 22, 2012.