My love affair with the Boston Red Sox began when I was super young. One of my very first memories is of my parents leaving me with a babysitter so that they could go to the World Series game (you know, the one where Carlton Fisk hit that home run)
and they brought me home a hat. I loved that damn hat. And I loved that team, even though they completely bungled the series and constantly found new ways to disappoint their fan base.
And so, I continued to love the Red Sox, and they continued to lose. One of my father’s friends used to say about their losing “curse”, “they killed my father, and now they’re coming after me.” We sort of reveled in their losing, and we loved it.
Until, in 2004, we realized, hey, winning is great, too.
This is a book for everyone like me.
People who laugh every time they watch this:
Folks who stood up and yelled at the TV when Dave Roberts stole second base.
People who cried when Keith Foulke jumped in the air after that last out in St. Louis. People who went and visited the cemetery on October 28, 2004 to tell their loved ones that the unthinkable had finally happened. That the Red Sox had finally won the World Series.
Did any of those things happen to you? Then you should read this. This is a small volume of poems about the Red Sox and Fenway Park. Told mostly in rhyme, we have entries about everything from Ted Williams and the Green Monster to David “Big Papi” Ortiz. The most famous of these is “Teddy at the Bat,” written for Ted Williams just before he died. But my favorite was about Dave Roberts and his famous stolen base.
…There was cheering there was singing,
And heroes filled the place.
But it never would have happened
Had not Roberts stole that base.
Yeah, so. We aren’t dealing with poetry that’s going to change the world, but if you are a fan, it hits you in the heart.
And now, more about me.
My main reason for selecting this book, and then saving it for my Cannonball entry, is because of the author. Dick Flavin is not only the Red Sox “Poet Laureate” and stadium announcer, but he’s my friend. If you grew up in Boston, you might remember him from TV, where he became somewhat famous in the 1970s and 80s for his satirical political commentary on Channel 4.
But here’s how I know him. He and my father were best friends for almost 70 years. Growing up, our family spent pretty much every 4th of July and every Christmas Eve with his family. His brother (a priest) married me to Mr. Scoots, he christened all three of my kids, and he presided over both funeral masses for my parents (where Dick gave beautiful eulogies at each mass). He’s more or less a member of our family. And most recently, he was ordained by the state of Massachusetts for a day in order to marry my brother and his lovely bride.
He’s the reason that one of my other favorite baseball books exists (I also love Faithful by Stephen King and Stuart O’Nan, but sadly have no personal ties to that one). He was the guy that drove Dom Dimaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr to Florida back in 2001 to visit their friend Ted Williams who was dying. This inspired the wonderful Teammates by the great David Halberstam. It also inspired Flavin’s most famous poem — and the impetus for this book — Teddy at the Bat (a take on the famous “Casey at the Bat”).
Oh, somewhere in this land of ours the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout.
And they’re going wild at Fenway Park ’cause Teddy hit one out!
Look. If you don’t love baseball, or the Red Sox, this probably isn’t for you. But you could do worse than to watch a game and read a short poem that makes you remember what made you love baseball in the first place.
We love Dick and couldn’t be happier for him to be experience this renaissance in his career.
How many guys in their 70s get to make the New York Times bestseller list with their first book? Awesome.
Finally, here is a picture of my hand with Dick’s 2013 Championship Ring. I love that this guy gets to wear this around every day, and that his job for the team is to more or less be their bard. More teams should have an in-house poet,right?