Having lived in the Boston area for eight years, it was destined that I would become a Red Sox fan. It's hard to live there and not be one. The excitement and enthusiasm is contagious, especially for someone who never quite got over the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn.
Now, there are plenty of baseball fans in the USA, but there are baseball fans and then there are baseball fans. Brooklyn Dodger fans were notorious for taking the game seriously; some say too seriously. One of my neighbors on Long Island used to hang black crepe when the Dodgers lost. It was a sad day indeed when they left Ebbets Field for California. It was a double-whammy in 1957 because the Giants also abandoned the Polo Grounds for the West Coast.
Thousands, maybe millions of New Yorkers were left without a baseball team to root for. (Any Dodgers or Giants fan wouldn't be caught dead cheering for the hated Yankees.) It was years before the National League returned to New York in the persona of the New York Mets. I tried rooting for the Mets; I really did. It just wasn't the same. And so, for a long time, I didn't follow baseball.
Until I moved to Boston for a job and found that Red Sox fans were as crazy as Brooklyn Dodger fans.
They even had a funky baseball field with a manual scoreboard and the famous Green Monster. Maybe it's just me, but older places have character that just can't be matched by newer venues.
I wondered what it would be like when I moved to Tucson, a long way from Boston and the sound of cheers and groans heard through neighboring windows during a game. (Yes, in my condo in Massachusetts, you could hear everyone cheering and groaning in unison depending on what happened during the game.)
I plunked down the big bucks for the MLB baseball package on cable because the idea of NOT seeing the Red Sox play was just too painful. I needed my fix. When they came to play the Diamondbacks a couple of years ago, my son called from Phoenix to ask if I was going to go to any of the games. Was I? How could I not? Seeing them live was wonderful, but what was even more impressive was the caravan of cars heading east on I10 from Phoenix to Tucson that Sunday night, most sporting Red Sox bumper stickers or insignia in the windows.
It really is Red Sox nation. No matter where you go, there are Red Sox fans. There was a picnic at the home of a member of the church where I go to last year. Not surprisingly, I wore a Red Sox tee shirt.
This past weekend I volunteered as an author escort for the Tucson Festival of Books. This is the third year and already it's grown to the fourth largest book fair in the country. It's a wonderful weekend of books and authors and strolling around the University of Arizona mall in the warm sunshine. I wore one of my Red Sox shirts on Saturday and was greeted several times with cries of "Great Shirt!" and "Go Sox!" You see, we really are all over. And I know that any time I need a conversation starter, all I have to do is put on a Red Sox tee shirt. There's always someone to talk about the team with.