Friday, September 14, 2007

BEHOLD!

...........Frederic Michael Lynn. The Reason I am a Baseball Fan.

This may come off as maudlin, but I'm in one of those moods. So if you don't like maudlin, read no further.

Picture, if you will: The year is 1975. A living room in Lewiston, Maine. A Sunday, high summer. My dad, enjoying his one day off a week, sits in his recliner, with a pilsner glass full of Schlitz beer, and a cigar. The ballgame is on. The Red Sox are playing - I don't remember which team. It doesn't matter.



I'm nine years old, a tomboy, in cutoff shorts, tube socks, 3-stripe Adidas sneakers, rainbow t-shirt, (probably) heading out for a bike ride or a tree climb, or to gather the neighborhood kids to play S.W.A.T. or kickball. I walk past the living room, glancing through the curls of cigar smoke in the afternoon sunshine, towards the television, just as Fred Lynn comes to bat.


Cue romantic music, maybe some violins...no, screw the romantic music, it was more forceful than that. Let's cue...a very loud power chord on an electric guitar. Loud enough to rattle your fillings. Imagine the opening chords of Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some." Yea, verily, my brothers and sisters...it was LOOOOOOVE. A FIRST love, innocent and pure, and therefore, almost mystically powerful. The kind that pre-dates that for any teen idol or any boyfriend, and therefore the kind of love that stays in your bones, in your DNA, and underlies all others, for the rest of your life. I was absolutely head over heels - in the first blush - of a first crush - on Fred Lynn. Soon this love would expand to the game, and the team, not just the player.

I sit down, watch the at-bat, and stay to watch the rest of the game. I don't remember asking many questions, just watch silently as the game goes on. The basic concepts of the game are fairly simple, and it doesn't take long to understand the objective. Subtleties of strategy and rules will come later, over time, through osmosis, listening to the announcers, conversations with Dad, and playing. I would soon be gathering schoolmates to play the game in the schoolyard (until a school window is broken and we are reprimanded and have to go back to the more window-friendly game of kickball. Oh, sad day.) And soon I would be getting kicked out of CCD for not paying attention to the class, because I was busy trading baseball cards with some kid who it turns out was NOT, Dana Caron, though I thought it was. I wonder where he is these days...


Anyway....to the present:

I was late for work this morning, because Fred was being interviewed on NECN as I was trying to leave the house, and I just HAD to watch for a few minutes. And just seeing him brought me back 32 years, to the day that baseball first entered my consciousness. Never thought of it this way before, but the fact that I remember that day in 1975 so clearly must mean it was a more important moment in my life than I had previously considered. And today's random pass through the living room strangely echoed that day, 32 years ago, when I was introduced to the beauty of the game of baseball, simply because this young, talented, rookie center fielder for the Boston Red Sox...was soooo cute.
So I no longer make fun of the girls who go to the games in pink hats and t-shirts**, or come to the game to spend time with their boyfriends, and latch on because a particular player is good looking, and don't really pay attention to the game or understand the deeper beauty of the sport. I can't tell anyone else how to be a fan, or why they should be a fan. However people come to the game, on whatever level they enjoy it, well...if that's their in, and it leads to some appreciation for what's going on on the field...that's just fine with me.
Now, I have the good fortune to be a season ticket holder, so I'll be there tomorrow for the second of a three-game series against the Yankees. This rivalry is so intense, so virulent at times, that I have no doubt I'll see some shameful behavior by fans of both teams. It's a given at Sox/Yankees games, unfortunately. But I'll also see some kids enjoying the sacred experience of a Saturday at Fenway, watching two of the greatest sports franchises in the country face each other, in an important series, during a playoff race. For those kids, the game is still that beautiful, new, shiny, innocent thing. They don't care how much money the players make, they don't care about steroids, they don't care about what other fans are wearing. HOW FREAKIN' AWESOME IS THAT?

I want to be 9 years old again. And I can't. But at 3:55 tomorrow afternoon, I'll be as close as I can get.
So thank you, Fred Lynn, for bringing the joy of baseball into my world, because this game makes me feel like a 9-year-old kid again, every single time I walk into that park. (Choked up yet? Oh, shut up.)





**Having said that: I don't like pink, and won't wear it, because I prefer to wear the actual colors of the team - though if I were a Marlins fan I'd have issues sporting the turquoise and remember when the Padres wore brown and gold? I mean...blee. But whatever...you pays your money, you makes your choice. I used to make fun of the pink hat wearers, and they do still make me cringe a bit, now I've got more important things to be pissed off about.

16 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Shife said...

Wow, that is a great story. My guy was Willie McGee with the Cardinals. Watching him as rookie in the World Series in '82 leading the Redbirds past the Brewers. I get so mad at baseball some times but reading your story brought back a lot of good memories. Thank you. Enjoy the series this weekend.

14 September, 2007 14:07  
Blogger Andraste said...

Hiya Mr. Shife! Been a while!

Thanks for the compliment. I was torn about whether to post this, it's not my usual vitriol. It's not even particularly foul-mouthed. So i'm glad it went over okay!

14 September, 2007 14:29  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Wipes tear, wanders off for 'nother beer, misses father, is glad of interweb.

14 September, 2007 19:23  
Blogger Xul said...

Nice post! I was totally into George Brett back in the 80's. I even conned my dad into taking me to a Royals spring training game(Florida didn't have a team back then, hell, we still don't!)

The all black Marlins' jerseys with the silver lettering aren't too bad.

14 September, 2007 21:09  
Blogger Sassy Sundry said...

Great story, Andraste. We should all feel like nine-year-old kids when we walk into Fenway.

I didn't fall in love with the Sox because I thought the players were good looking. I just thought that the idea of someone being called "The Boomer" was great (and I thought Yaz was a hero). I do happen to find Varitek attractive, which strikes me as very weird because I hate stocky jock types.

Sorry about the game. What happened?

15 September, 2007 09:37  
Blogger Andraste said...

Cat - oh yeah, next week will be the heartwarming story about my dad bringing me to Maine Nordiques games - minor league hockey team that no longer exists - and trying to pretend he wasn't enjoying the fights, to be a good example to his wee daughter.

Xul, thanks for stopping by, and the kind words. I know a guy who named his kid Brett after your boy George. Now THAT'S looooove.

Oh Sassy - that game broke my heart.

What happened? Total and utter wankery, that's what happened.

The wind seemed to shift when Okajima gave up those back to back taters, and then Paps being brought in too early, and then our offense, once again, leaving TOO MANY MEN ON BASE.

With the Yankees? No lead is enough. You've got to put more runs on the board than they've got chest hairs.

15 September, 2007 10:07  
Blogger Fresh Hell said...

I grew up a tomboy as well, but I was never bitten by professional sports except for having been born bleeding Laker purple. Since moving to New England two years ago, I've wanted to see the Red Sox play because the furvor for the team is so infectious. I've even watched on television without being prompted by someone else (not characteristic of me at all) One day I'll find my way to Fenway... one day...

15 September, 2007 10:26  
Blogger Andraste said...

Hey Hell - how's that knee today?

There is nothing like that moment when you're going to your seats at Fenway...you walk up the ramp, trying not to spill your two beers...that first glimpse of the grass on the field, the smell of hot dogs, the sound of the crowd, maybe a player warming up, the sense of anticipation...

Every year at the home opener, I just get the urge to jump up and down like a 2-year old, and just burst into tears of joy. But I'd spill my beer, so I don't!

15 September, 2007 10:46  
Blogger Fresh Hell said...

The knee is coming along. Had my first shower since before surgery on tuesday and I'm feeling much like a whole new broad. I think you might be on to something with the red wine-motrin combo. I'll be exploring that today. :)

One day I'll find my way to Fenway. I've only been to one live baseball game and I wasn't old enough to embrace the grace and glory the experience with beers in hand. I was only 10. But I did have me a Dodger Dog and watched grown men turn into little boys for fleeting moments. It's really time to experience that kind of excitement again.

15 September, 2007 14:56  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

He looks like a young Marty Crane crossed with a youger Edward Norton.

16 September, 2007 13:13  
Blogger Andraste said...

He had those 'good boy' safe looks that are oh so appealing to a prepubescent girl. You know, boyish. By contrast, Dwight Evans had a more dangerous, mustached, dark, roguish, manly look that I wouldn't appreciate until I was older. Bit porn-star, which was definitely scary for a girl at that age. See what I'm saying?

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/yhst-93055382324458_1936_789263

16 September, 2007 13:21  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I do, he's definitely got that whole 'most likely to wake up in a hotel room with a dead call girl and no pants' look to him.

17 September, 2007 03:50  
Blogger dana.caron said...

Hey, I'M Dana! Who are YOU?

14 October, 2008 07:27  
Blogger Andraste said...

IF this really is Dana Caron from Lewiston Maine...then I might be Joelle - from Frye and Jordan Schools. Was that you in the CCD classes or did I have you mixed up with someone else?

14 October, 2008 08:16  
Blogger dana.caron said...

Yes, I am he...I remember you very well from Jordan, but it wasn't me at CCD. I can recall kickball games and baseball games with you back then. Love the tribute to Fred Lynn! I was at the same stage as you in '75, and he was the first Sox guy I knew. My family was always Yaz, so I shifted my loyalties, especially after Lynn went west in 1980. But, I became a center fielder because of Freddy, even though I wore #8 for Carl.

14 October, 2008 20:23  
Blogger Andraste said...

Well hey! How ARE you?

Shoot me an e-mail (andraste77@yahoo.com) and we can catch up. I'd love to hear where you're living these days, what you're doing with yourself. Whenever I think about Jordan I think of you and a few other people, and wonder whatever became of everyone.

14 October, 2008 20:42  

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