What Gets Granite Staters Excited? The Sox

Watching the Sox is the closest we get to excitement



Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Fella from away: What do you folks do for excitement around here?

New Hampshire Native: Don’t know. Never been excited.

Which is not entirely true. In my family we do occasionally get excited ... about the Red Sox. 

Yes, they’re based in Boston, and we are genetically predisposed to fear Boston.  When I was a kid, on our annual Christmas shopping jaunt to Mammoth Mills, upon spotting the highway marker that said Boston straight ahead, for Manchester exit right, my mother would panic: “Turn right, quick, or we’ll end up in Boston.”

I learned early on that Boston was not a good place to end up.

Unless you went straight to Fenway Park and straight home. Bring a lunch. Might not be anything to eat in Massachusetts. Fenway! The family held hands so’s not to get lost in the crowd. We heard a little boy (evidently enjoying his first trip to the park) say: “Daddy, it’s in color!” We located our seats. The field so green; the sky so blue. Or maybe it was drizzling. I don’t remember a single player by name or even who won or lost that day. (Maybe Carlton Fisk played, though I might be misremembering because he was a New Hampshire boy and we are so proud of Pudge.) But there was the singing of the national anthem, the literal roar of the crowd and the seventh inning stretch — long before Sweet Caroline was a glint in Neil Diamond’s eye.

"We watched. We hoped. We swore. And we hoped some more."

My grandfather, Bob Stewart, loved the Red Sox so much he called them “thosegodamredsox” all-one-word. A teenager when they won the World Series in 1918, he was still waiting for a repeat when he died in 1966. So in 2004, 2007 and (holy moly) 2013, I felt him celebrating with us. ‘Bout time.

One of my mom’s early memories was  listening to the Sox on the radio into the night, just she and her dad, while the rest of the family slept. Toward the end of a particularly good game, topped by a dramatic home run, she yelled “Good Ole Pesky” and woke  the house.

Fast forward to April 20, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park. My daughter, Adi, great-granddaughter of Bob Stewart, sang the national anthem with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus on the field at Fenway. I don’t recall who the opposing team was, who won or lost, but I saw the pictures of Bob Stewart’s great-granddaughter on that green, green grass singing for thosegodamredsox. Our godamredsox.

And who was the honored guest that day?

Johnny Pesky.

The 2012 season? Yuh. Well. When asked why the Sox lost so much on the road, Coach Bobby Valentine infamously said: “What difference does it make?” 

But did we stop watching? 

No. 

We watched. We hoped. We swore. And we hoped some more.

Bob Stewart’s granddaughter returned to sing with the chorus at the final home game celebrating the All-Fenway Team and the return of many former players. Her special memory of that day: “Walking down the hall and Nomar Garciaparra was walking next to me and I was close enough to touch his butt AND I DIDN’T because, you know, keeping it classy.”

So proud of us.

Fella from away: What do you folks do up here all winter?

New Hampshire Native: Look forward to spring training. And, even better, Opening Day.

 

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