— heather (@heathrnelson) April 5, 2016
In fifth grade, I loved drawing and writing. In fifth grade, I found my new love: sports. This is the (bizarre) story of how that happened.
It started in Mr. Farwell’s fifth grade class when asked us to create a perspective drawing of a city. My drawing was almost complete when Mr. Farwell approached me.
“You should add the Green Monster to the background,” he said.
I looked at him unsure of what to say. Was I supposed to know about some ‘Green Monster’ cartoon? Was it like Godzilla? Was it some joke I was too young to understand?
“What’s the Green Monster?”
Mr. Farwell laughed. (I assume because he realized he instructed a 10-year-old to draw a Green Monster in the background, and she took it literally.)
He explained to me that the wall in left field of Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox home, had a nickname. The Green Monster. Mr. Farwell was my first male teacher, and his knowledge of “manly” things interested me. He used sports themes in the classroom, which sparked my interest, and he encouraged his students to get active. Some mornings, when the weather permitted, he’d take us outside to do basketball drills, which he said “got our blood flowing.” Fifth grade was my favorite year in elementary school for many reasons — aside from the fact that I met some of my closest friends still today that year. Mr. Farwell taught me about the Red Sox. I think he was a casual fan, although I couldn’t say, but I’m sure he knew my dad was a fan. Plus, I had a pink Red Sox shirt that I’d wear on occasion. That must’ve given my “fandom” away.
2003 — the year I was a fifth grader — was one of the most disappointing years to be a Sox fan, and I didn’t even know it. Roger Clemens pulled my dad in as a fan, which is why he latched onto the Red Sox in the 1990s. His love for the Sox, as my dad puts it, grew from there. My dad also said the history of the team and Fenway Park further drew him in. Even better, the Red Sox, at that time, weren’t spending money like the New York Yankees. (My dad’s always despised them.) The BoSox were a bunch of facial-haired misfits, who had no chance of winning anything as far as the Yankees were concerned (I’m assuming). From 1990-2002, the Red Sox made the postseason only four times. Not exactly a team that you’d pin an out-of-towner to pledge allegiance to. In 2003, the Sox lost the ALCS to the Yankees in heart-breaking fashion (via Aaron Boone home run). My dad certainly didn’t mind rooting for a losing team. It’s something I’ve always admired: He’s loyal and optimistic, even during the times that it’s hard to be. Oh, and he never jumps on the bandwagon. Ever.
So, while the rest of Red Sox Nation mourned during the 2003 offseason, I slowly transformed into a baseball fan. The pink Sox shirt I owned led me to become buddies with an office para, who’d grown up a Red Sox fan. The pink shirt caused Yankees “fans” in my sixth grade class to taunt me. The pink shirt served as my Halloween costume — the year I decided to be a “Red Sox fan.” The pink shirt also somehow, maybe, brought good luck to the 2004 team. I often joke that since I became a dedicated fan, the Red Sox curse vanished and winning seasons returned. (Omit the Chicken and Beer Scandal year, please.) I remember watching Nomar dance at home plate, adjusting his gloves in between each swing. I remember when he was traded to the Cubs, and how I said, “I’ll just become as Cubs fan!”as if I thought that’d be better. I remember Manny and Pedro and Damon. And Youkilis and Wakefield and Foulke. I remember when I decided Trot Nixon would be my favorite Sox player, because you need a favorite if you want a jersey. I remember Arroyo and A-Rod and The Slap. I remember scrunching my face at the word, “Yankees.” I remember staying up late to watch the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years. I remember the phone call with my cousin in Boston, who I could barely hear because of all the cheering in the background. I remember wearing red and blue face paint to school the next day (and skipping school in 2007 when they won again).
The Red Sox obviously mean a lot to me. I’ve spent 13 years of my life rooting for the same team. I’ve also gone on two trips to Boston — and admittedly fallen in love with the city. Sadly, I wasn’t smart enough (or rich enough for Harvard), but maybe I’ll live there someday.
I can’t begin to describe how much I love baseball. It’s been there for me through everything: puberty, death, graduation, breakups, etc…. Baseball is long, in season and game-length, but it’s a constant. Baseball is like a family. I think Jimmy Fallon’s character in “Fever Pitch” best described what baseball means to me:
They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is a family that’s here for you.
From April to October, I can count on a game being on my TV. I can count on bat flips, bench-clearing fights, an almost no-no or two. Maybe baseball hasn’t ever loved me back, but it’s repeatedly given me reasons to never let go. For as long as I live, I’ll be a baseball fan, a Red Sox fan foremost. Baseball isn’t boring; baseball is fun. Baseball is a part of my life; it’s a piece of my soul.
Ben: You know what’s really great about baseball?
Ben: You can’t fake it. You know, anything else in life you don’t have to be great in – business, music, art – I mean you can get lucky.
Ben: Yeah, you can fool everyone for awhile, you know? It’s like – not – not baseball. You can either hit a curveball or you can’t. That’s the way it works…
Lindsey Meeks: Hmm.
Ben: You know?
Ben: You can have a lucky day, sure, but you can’t have a lucky career. It’s a little like math. It’s orderly. Win or lose, it’s fair. It all adds up. It’s, like, not as confusing or as ambiguous as, uh…
Ben: Yeah. It’s – it’s safe.