I have a secret. I’ve been really selective about who I share it with up until now; a handful of people who I think won’t make fun of me or hate me because of it…. and boy do people in my neck of the woods HATE people like me. I’ve let my secret slip out once or twice, and suffered the dagger-like glares that were shot in my direction. Thankfully, there were no pitchforks or torches within reach, otherwise I might’ve been driven out of town, and back up north where they think I belong.
But enough is enough. I’ve carried around this secret for nearly a decade and I just can’t stay silent any longer. So here goes (deep breath)….
Hi, my name is Linda, I live in New York and I’m a Boston Red Sox fan.
Whew!! Damn that felt good to get off my chest!! But I’m sure my sense of relief will wear off the moment one of my fellow New Yorkers reads this and calls me a traitorous asshole.
You might wonder how a girl who grew up in New York became a Red Sox fan. I’ve wondered the same thing myself, and have found that there’s no clear-cut answer. The best I can do is trace the start of my Red Sox love affair back to 2004 – the year the Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years….
My husband, Kevin, was watching the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Red Sox on TV. The Red Sox were down 0-3 games – in the history of baseball, no team had ever come back from such a deficit before. Kevin was distraught because as a Mets fan, he’d developed a deep and abiding hatred for the Yankees and their penchant for crushing the hopes and dreams of the underdogs. He had witnessed them win the World Series six times in his lifetime alone, and with each victory, Kevin lost another piece of his soul.
I didn’t pay much attention to the games at first – I’m not a sports fan. At all. It would probably take me years to notice if all professional sports ceased to exist; my only tip off would be the lost puppy-dog look on my husband’s face when he turned on ESPN and found retired sports announcers making paper airplanes out of old cue cards. But when the Red Sox started to fight against the Yankee’s momentum, and blatantly refused to give in to the defeat that the rest of the world assumed was an absolute certainty, my curiosity was piqued.
Kevin and I watched the rest of the series, and my excitement grew with every victory the Red Sox managed to rack up – it hit a fever pitch in game seven when they defeated the Yankees on their own turf 10-3 and won the series. While my neighbors mourned the loss of their beloved Yankees, my husband and I drew the curtains closed and danced around like the munchkins after Dorothy killed the wicked witch of the west. Ding dong, the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low….
The next day, my fellow New Yorkers wanted to commiserate and swap sob stories about where we were when the Yankees tragically lost the championship series. I had to pretend to be just as miserable as they were because I knew my own happiness over the Red Sox’s victory would’ve been like pouring salt into their very fresh wound. Also, I didn’t have a death wish.
That’s the day my secret was born.
My love for the Red Sox grew even more in 2006, when my husband and I decided to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary up in Boston. I was able to let my freaky Red Sox flag fly for the first time; although up there, I wasn’t freaky at all. I was no longer in the secretive minority – everywhere I looked, someone was wearing Red Sox paraphernalia. I wasted no time joining the ranks. I jumped into the Yawkey Way store right near Fenway Park and bought my very first Red Sox t-shirt.
If you haven’t seen a baseball game at Fenway Park, you’re missing out on something special. The fans in that park aren’t just spectators; they become as much a part of the game as the Green Monster and the players that guard it. There is an electricity in the air that excites you and forces you up out of your seat. And if the electricity doesn’t get you on your feet, their 1912-starving-Irish-immigrant-sized seats might. Seriously, those seats are TINY – padded asses of the world, consider yourself warned.
Before I even became conscious of my own involvement, I was on my feet, cheering and exchanging high-fives with total strangers. New Yorkers don’t even talk to strangers, much less make unnecessary bodily contact with them. And we sure as hell don’t shamelessly sing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of our lungs (which I totally did during the seventh inning stretch). I think Fenway Park might be the last official bastion where Neil Diamond still fucking rocks!!
After our amazing celebratory weekend in Boston, it was time to return home, back to the land where Red Sox fans are despised more than people who walk too slow on the sidewalk or invade the 6-foot personal space bubble. Within the first few weeks of returning, I got really bold on a couple of occasions and wore my Red Sox t-shirt out in public – bravest thing I did since the day I went into labor and waited seven hours to get an epidural.
I felt like a rebel…. for the first few hours. Then the overwhelming majority of Yankee fans started to wear me down with their snide comments and indignant stares; the most memorable reaction came from a post office employee that said, “I’d like to help you, but you’re wearing a Red Sox shirt.” I was going to tell her that I was equally offended by her unflattering polyester uniform, but propriety warned me that a postal worker who was also a devout Yankee fan was a dangerous combo – I decided it wasn’t worth getting stabbed with a letter opener, so I walked out.
But despite being treated like a social leper for the last decade, I have remained true to the Red Sox – to this day they continue to be the only professional sports team that I give a damn about. Kevin and I have been back to Fenway Park a couple more times since 2006, and with each trip, my allegiance grows stronger. I will be cheering them on during this year’s American League Championship series just like I did back in 2004…. except this year, the curtains will be WIDE open.