As the suspense built in the days leading up to the trade deadline, and then culminating with arguably the biggest trade in Red Sox history, this fan blog remained silent. It certainly wasn’t for lack of interest. Unfortunately for my brother and I, life got a little too real at the end of July, as our mother unexpectedly fell ill and passed away at the much-too-young age of 59.
In the moments leading up to the trade deadline, as deals were rumored to be done, then dead, then done again, we were at my mother’s wake. Wake’s are surreal things, with moments of terrible sadness mixed with moments of actual happiness seeing long-lost friends, albeit under terrible circumstances. And, on the afternoon of July 31, we’d be weeping one minute, and checking on if a Manny deal had happened yet the next.
That might seem deeply inappropriate to some people. However, it isn’t. I’m not going to tell you that my Mom knew Alex Cora’s batting average, or even who Cora was. She didn’t own a pink hat, blue hat, or even a sunhat as far as I know. But growing up in a large extended family in which almost nobody followed baseball, there are two people directly responsible for our baseball passion: My grandfather — a lifelong fan who was 10-years-old in 1918, owned old gloves that looked like they came straight out of The Natural, and loved to play catch with his grandkids — and my mom.
I remember being six years old when my mom turned on the 1978 playoff game between the Sox and Yanks and explaining to us this was an important game (ultimately introducing us to Sox heartbreak at a young age). It’s because of her I got my first baseball card (Rick Burleson), and then many, many more over the years. She owned a record album chronicling the 1967 Impossible Dream season which we listened to constantly. Because of her we knew about Tony C, who Carl Yastremski was, and why Jim Rice was so good. Because of her we knew it was a big deal when Carlton Fisk left town, and why we were sad when Fred Lynn left too. She’d put on the games for us to watch while she cleaned, and bought us plenty of Red Sox clothes (including, get this, Carl Yastremski Underoos). And she brought us down to the fairgrounds to get autographs from the likes of Glenn Hoffman and Dave Stapleton.
There were years I cursed her for introducing me to the Red Sox. Of course, those years of anguish only amplified our joy in 2004 (and beyond). It’s just one of many things I’m grateful to her for.