A Great Year for This Boston Sports Fan

I’m a Boston sports fan. Growing up, it was an affliction. A curse, even. The Celtics won a title on June 8, 1986. I was barely two months old at the time. Luckily, I didn’t really start following the Bruins until middle/high school, and thanks to the dominance of Michael Jordan, I was momentarily distracted from the dark, post-Larry Bird era of the Celtics.

The Red Sox, however, were a different story. I can’t pinpoint the exact time I became a Red Sox fan, but judging by my family, I was born into it. I grew up loving players like Mo Vaughn, John Valentin, and of course, Nomar Garciaparra. The first time I went to Fenway Park was Nomar’s rookie season (1997). Barely 11 years old, I had to make a monumental decision when my mother told me I could buy one souvenir. I knew I wanted a Sox player shirt…but which one? My beloved Mo “Hit Dawg” Vaughn? Or the exciting new Nomar Garciaparra? I choose Nomar, a decision I regret only slightly to this day.

The Boston title drought would continue until 2001, when the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl. The only major Boston sports team I didn’t follow, the dominance of the Patriots in the early 2000s did little to ease my personal sports-fan pain. In 2003, the Red Sox were bested by the hated Yankees in a heartbreaking loss. I walked into school the next day in a daze and found my locker adorned with a sign that said “The Wait Til Next Year Club”, a phrase my Yankee-loving grandfather had tormented me with for years.

Then, in 2004 the impossible happened. I was a freshman at UMass, and purchased a Sox shirt with “BELIEVE 04” on the back out of some random guys trunk in the parking lot behind my friend’s dorm. I stayed up late and watched as the Sox did the impossible, coming back from an 0-3 deficit to slay the Yankees in the ALCS. During my 8 am classes, I wore a Sox hat pulled down over my eyes and slept through economics. When the Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, I hugged my friend Timmy (who had gone to high school with me). Calls started flooding into my cell phone as I tried to reach my friends to celebrate. The impossible had happened. The Red Sox were World Series Champions.

Now, seven years later, the Sox have an additional title (2007) under their belts. The Celtics ended a 22 year title drought by slamming the door on the Lakers in 2008, and the Boston Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup last night for the first time since 1972.

All in all, I must say that this has been a pretty amazing year for this Boston sports fan.

In mid-April, I took my mom, brother, and sister to Fenway Park. The Sox were in the middle of their dismal 2 and 12 start to the season. As what I can only assume was a PR move, the Red Sox invited fans to arrive at the Park early that day to walk around the warning track and participate in a meet and greet with the players. Though it was cold and misty, we trekked in early from Western MA to arrive at Fenway by 10:45 am and were some of the first fans on the field:

For some reason, though we were exceptionally close to the dug-out, most of the big name players bypassed us and started greeting fans further down the warning track, or on the other side of the dugout. A few of the newbies stopped, but the only player I recognized by sight was relief pitcher Matt Albers. While I was a little heartbroken, my nine-year old brother was absolutely crushed…..until David Ortiz defied the PR teams orders to go back into the club house and came over to greet more fans:

One of the best moments of my sports fan life. Second only to the time I met Trot Nixon. Papi’s love for the fans (and the game that he plays) was clearly on display that day.

Not even a week later, I was back in Boston. My Gram bought me tickets to my first-ever (non-preseason) Celtics game. Better yet? It was the post season. Against the New York Knicks.

As much as I love Fenway Park and baseball, I don’t think anything can rival the buzz that gets going in the Garden during a big game. The atmosphere was positively electric. And even though we were maybe two rows from the back of the Garden, you could see every pass and hear every dribble. Even Chris (my boyfriend and a Knicks fan) couldn’t help but have a great time watching the Celtics defeat the Knicks.

And I have to say, seeing all the banners hanging from the rafters was pretty inspiring……

And last night, I watched with some of my oldest friends as the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup Finals. One of my friends (a guy) was so overcome with emotion as the Bruins celebrated on ice, he buried his face in the rally towel (a towel he procured during the heartbreaking playoffs last season) for a good three or four minutes to gather his emotions before the B’s received the Cup.

The entire night was so surreal. The Stanley Cup Champions shirt I’m currently sporting seems like it was a typo or some sort of sick joke. I’m still reeling from the fact that in the past seven years, my three sports teams–teams I watch almost every night and become so invested in over the course of the season, it feels like I am part of them–have brought home 4 titles in the past 7 years.

I’ll be at the Parade on Saturday, watching the Bruins and the Stanley Cup wind their way through the streets of Boston. Maybe then, with the light reflecting off the Cup as it sits atop a Duck Boat, this will all feel real…………………..


1 comment so far

  1. Charlotte on

    Have a great time in boston on saturday ! your writing is amazing rae, i love when i go on facebook and you posted another blog. We have to go site seeing or adventuring to find more stuff for you to write about

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