The Holiday Season ended last night with the ringing in of 2015. The great rush which began days before Thanksgiving culminates with the dropping of the ball in Times Square. There is great revelry in this event. It is, for many, the ultimate party time. It is new birth to be celebrated; new beginnings to be anticipated.
I have never subscribed much to the revelry aspect of ringing in the new year, even as a youngin. Not that I frown upon celebrating new beginnings; but the birth of a new year is also the death of an old year. It is a passing and thus, as all passings, it requires contemplation, reflection and is thus worthy of a more somber refrain.
It is a time to look back, to remember, to smile, to weep, to celebrate, to dance, to mourn.
So I have chosen this day to re-energize this blog. I have chosen this day to give birth to a new beginning for this venue. As many of you may recall I began this venture in 2012 as a tribute to the 100th Birthday of Fenway Park. I am grateful to all of you who have found your way here and enjoyed my tales of the history of that great edifice and those individuals who have made that history.
It has been a heartfelt journey for me for Fenway is more than just a ball park and baseball is more than just a game. Fenway is the keeper of the collective memory of generations of New Englanders and baseball is the greatest metaphor for life that man has concocted. The most difficult of all games to play, it challenges the hardiest among us. It rewards effort and hard work, it drains the will and it will come at you from clear out of the blue to knock your “sox” off and leave one to wondering, “What the hell just happened here.” It is the greatest single thing that America has exported!
I traveled to Boston for Christmas. I spent the week before Christmas in the Hanover Mall. Hanover is a bedroom community of Boston about 20 miles south of her. I brought this along with me.
Many a smile was brought to many a face as the folks who lived through that summer reflected and remembered a time and a year. And a smile was brought to my face when I was visited by three Christmas angels.
There is something about a collective joyful experience which can never adequately be described, it can only be experienced. It creates a bond that echos across the decades forever linking those who lived it. And as I found myself immersed in the passion of exchanged stories of the 1967 Red Sox, I was struck by a yearning for a time gone by. For loves lost, loved ones gone. Perhaps it is the nature of those of us in the bottom of the seventh inning of our lives. I’m not sure! But I do know it required the requisite trip to the keeper of memories.
So I made the trip. I always do and I walked around her, I paused, I remembered, I reflected, I contemplated and I was ever so thankful to be there! Ever so thankful to my Dad for taking me there. Ever so thankful for the memories which emanate from Updike’s “lyric little band box.”
I paused and said hello to Yaz. Remembering the 23 years of joy he brought me and the summer, that summer, when he was the best baseball player ever seen. I remembered the last day of the season at Fenway with Dad and the joy, the unbounded joy. I remembered my last day with Dad and the anguish, the immeasurable anguish of that forever goodbye. I contemplated the fortune life bestowed upon me because I got to call him Dad. I reflected on my brother Willie, my first hero, who was crawling through the jungles of Vietnam that fall while I was at Fenway! I reflected on all that 1967 has come to mean to me, all that it has brought me, the joy, the heartache, the love. And the wonderings; why and what lies behind the door marked 2015?
I visited Ted and The Kid. Remembering that April day in 2004 when, at that statue’s dedication, I watched as the statues sculptor, Fran Talarico, proclaimed the “curse over…Ted’s going to chase it away….the Red Sox are going to win the World series.” And by God they did! Franc is gone now but that sweet man lives in my heart!
Then I stopped by the Teammates and I remembered Christmas of 2003 when my 17 year old daughter was so excited as she gave me David Halberstam’s book of the same name! Excited because she found “something I knew you’d really like.” I read that bittersweet tale in a day, I loved it!
So today I return from the shadows to write again, about Fenway, about baseball, about its great history, about those who made it, about those who make it. I return to write about life. For through all of my meanderings, baseball has never left my side. She has angered me, she has frustrated me, she has thrilled me and she has remained true for each and every spring she returns. I have loved her with all I have and she has loved me back.
A Happy New Year to you all, enjoy, celebrate but don’t forget to remember, to contemplate, to reflect. For as this year begins I am ever so mindful and grateful for anchors in my life.
And so it is on this day in Fenway history, January 1, 2015