Saturday, March 29, 2008
Talkin' (BoSox) baseball
Last week, I was told by a feller in one of my fantasy baseball leagues that I am a "bandwagoner" because I'm a native Nashvillian who happens to be a Boston Red Sox fan. I've done a lot of things in my life - some noble, some stupid - but I've never, ever jumped on a bandwagon of any length or sort ... and I let that guy know it.
I began playing organized baseball when I was 7-years-old. My very first baseball coach was a man named Tom Carrington. He was from Boston, and he was a HUGE Red Sox fan.
During the course of my first baseball season, Coach Carrington availed himself of every opportunity to tell his young charges that Ted Williams was the best baseball player of all time. I soaked in every thing he said about Ted Williams, and since I lived in a city with no major league team, it didn't take long before I started telling folks that I, too, was a Red Sox fan.
It was not until I was 10-years-old that my love affair with the Boston Red Sox truly began. Coach Carrington again became my head coach that baseball season, and I immediately struck up a friendship with his son, Roger, who joined my team that year.
Coach Carrington kinda made me his pet player that season, mainly because I was a rare 10-year-old who could throw a curve (I'd been taught to do so by my surrogate brother/next door neighbor, who was five years older than me). Makin' me his pet certainly worked, 'cause I was the only kid from my team to make the all-star team that year.
Something else Coach Carrington did during my tenth year was make me a hardcore Red Sox fan. Not only did he tell me about the Sox at every turn during practices and games, he took great joy in showing me his large collection of Sox-signed balls and cards during sleep-overs with his son.
When my birthday rolled around that summer, the Carringtons gave me a HUGE Carl Yastrzemski poster -- the same Yaz poster that was visible in the Cheers bar during the duration of that classic TV show. To make room for my Yaz poster, I had to take down an Return Of The Jedi poster. Thus, career as a sci-fi geek came to a quick end (thank you, Coach C!).
Not long after getting the Yaz poster, I asked for, and received, my official Major League Baseball cap ... Red Sox, of course. I also embarked on an effort to procure as many Ted Williams and Carl Yaz baseball cards as I could. I was a certified Red Sox fan at that point, and there wasn't going to be no lookin' back!
I continued playing baseball until I was 18. If'n I hadn't decided to grow-out my hair and replace my baseball bat with an electric guitar, I probably would've played ball when I was in college. One of my last official acts as a participant in an official baseball league was to take instruction from Scott Cooper at a baseball clinic in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Cooper was a Red Sox prospect at the time, and big things were expected from him.
Scott Cooper didn't make it, obviously, but he certainly made an impression on me. The bat and ball he signed were prominently displayed in my bedroom when I was still living with my parents; and I immediately found a place for his stuff in my home office when I purchased my first house.
Now, if an "almost made it" Red Sox player's signed memorabilia can find a place in my home -- alongside other signed items (Yaz, Dewey Evans, Jim Rice, Roger Clemens, etc.) and 50+ Red Sox-themed books -- don't that kinda certify me as an Official Red Sox Fan?!
I do, and forever shall, love the Boston Red Sox. Even though I was born in Nashville, Tennessee.