Below is another article in a series I’m writing as part of my campaign for president of Red Sox Nation. To see the video for the song, “I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation,” or to download the song to your computer for free, click here.
From little league/youth baseball to high school to college to the Yawkey League, I played 22 baseball seasons and perhaps 500 games. Unlike Wade Boggs (whom I loved watching play, growing up), I don’t know any of my batting stats from my baseball career – except one. Total home runs: ONE. It happened when I was 14 years old, playing in Brookline’s Babe Ruth League at the playground next to Lawrence School, which is about 1 1/2 miles from Fenway Park.
I remember there were no fences – so any four-bagger would have to be legged out. I don’t remember the pitch but it was probably a 57 mph fastball right down the middle. When I struck the ball on the sweet spot of my ultra-light, 29 oz aluminum bat and saw its impressive arc, I knew this was my chance. As I sprinted towards first base, I was already focused on beating the throw to home plate. Nearing third, I saw my coach frantically waving me home, but the look on his face told me it was going to be close. I saw the catcher awaiting a throw from the cut-off man. He caught the ball, I slid, he tagged me, and there was a cloud of dust.
The next moment, before the umpire made his call, is what I remember most clearly. In my memory, time stopped. I recall thinking, “That was close. Was I out or safe? Out or safe? PLEASE say safe, PLEASE say safe.” Then time resumed. “SAFE!” yelled the teenage umpire.
HOME RUN. I had done it. Skinny little Rob had hit an honest-to-goodness dinger. “So this is what it feels like to be Fred Lynn,” I thought. It felt really good. And I never got that feeling again, the rest of my days as a ballplayer.
After the game, walking to my car with my parents, an old man whom I’d noticed had been sitting in a lawn chair near third base called out to me. “Hey,” he said, “Good hit. You wanted that homer as soon as you hit it, didn’t you? I could see by the way you ran the bases. You were hungry!”
Isn’t it funny that I remember that old man’s comment? I suppose that, just as Henry Aaron will always remember everything about his 715th, and Yaz will always remember everything about his 400th (I was there), I’ll always remember everything about my first…. and only.
To read an article about my candidacy that appeared on the front page of The Brookline TAB and The Wellesley Townsman on Thursday, September 6, click here.
Went to the Orioles game on Sunday with my 4.5 year old daughter. We sang your song all the way to the game, pretty much.
We got there early, so my daughter could play at the playground and bounce on
the bouncing thing. We got some fries and a Coke, and went to our seats,
which were in the sun on a 92 degree day, at 1:30. Saw the first inning
from there. Top of the second, my daughter looks BEAT and says “I want to go
home.” Her face is R-E-D from the heat…and the bouncy thing. I have
her chug some water and we go back to the playground, where she plays
for about 15 minutes. Then, up we go to the upper deck, where it’s
shaded and there’s a NICE breeze. She spends the 3rd, 4th, and 5th
innings chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox” whenever the crowd does, and hands
out LOTS of peanuts to the fans in our section and the neighboring
We go back to our seats (16th row behind the Sox on-deck circle) which
are now shaded. She hands out peanuts to people in our section and makes
friends with a 7 yr old girl and her 5 yr. old brother who are sitting
next to us. They dance in the aisle, eat peanuts, and….cotton candy,
of course, stopping to chant “Let’s Go Red Sox” whenever the other fans
do. She yells “Big Papi” to Big Papi when he comes out in the on-deck
circle….about 10 times. He doesn’t acknowledge her, so she says “he
can’t hear me, daddy, shout with me.” So I do. He still doesn’t
acknowledge us….I don’t think he can hear us, actually. So, she goes
back to dancing in the aisle with her friends.
Meanwhile, it’s a really good game.
Papelbon comes in, everyone cheers, she stands on the seat and watches
Papelbon blow away the final hitter.
We go back to the playground and play for 30 more minutes, until they
tell us they’re locking up. We walk to the car, happy. We sing your
song for 15 or 20 minutes. Then, she falls asleep.
A GREAT day for a new member of Red Sox Nation.