The improbable come from behind victory of the New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons left fans exhausted, elated (or distraught) depending on one’s allegiance. This ‘Win for the Ages’ joins a list of great sport moments in Boston.
I grew up in Rhode Island with a natural allegiance to Boston teams. Memorable moments in sports, both victories and painful losses, help define who we are and where we belong.
I remember watching the Boston Bruins in my Uncle Freddy’s living room…with Bobby Orr flying through the air in 1970. I remember listening to my transistor radio under the blankets, long after I was supposed to be asleep, as the great Johnny Most called the Celtics play by play.
My Uncle Bob, my Dad’s mischievous younger brother, gave me my first beer at age 16 (‘don’t tell your father’) as we watched on television the Patriot’s with Jim Plunkett as the QB.
In 1978 I was working in a supermarket as a tie breaking play-off game between the Red Sox and Yankees was broadcast over the stores sound system. I remember the cries and curses that arose when Bucky ‘##&*ing’ Dent hit a home run to break our hearts.
On Sept. 12, 1979 I witnessed Carl Yazstremski reach the milestone of 3000 hits. Witness is a bit of a stretch. My lifelong friend, Clyde Haworth ( a Yankee fan) had a dorm room off of Kenmore Square. We sat on the roof, sipping a favorite beverage, listening to the game on the radio…with a partial view of Fenway Park. Such are the lengths we fans go to, when a team captures your heart. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=carl+yastrzemski+hit+3000&qpvt=carl+yastrzemski+hit+3000&view=detail&mid=0BC1239140A1C60B66D20BC1239140A1C60B66D2&FORM=VRDGAR
In 2000 I rode with my Dad in an ambulance as he went for radiation treatment. His cancer had spread and the prognosis was poor. Striving for any type of normalcy, I remember my Dad asking: ‘How did the Sox do last night?’
In 2004, four years after my Dad and Uncle Freddy had died, then living in Oregon, I watched with my friend Win Dolan (another New England transplant) as our Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. We toasted my Dad and Freddy and all those who hadn’t lived to see this day.
Those who aren’t sport fans may think such stories are over stated, even childish. But sports with their medley of heart-break and joy have a way of shaping who we are as we remember those living and dead, to whom we belong. Those with whom we have a shared memory.
This past Sunday, like most New England fans, I thought all was lost. But as the second half of the Super Bowl progressed, we found the impossible become the improbable become ‘a win for the ages’. I shared the moment with friends while our buddy, Clyde Haworth (at the Super Bowl with his son Jake), texted video clips of the crowd… as despair gave way to delirium.
Such are the ties that bind us to one another. Sports offer a storyline within which we share a lifetime of memories. Sports serve too as a diversion from the painful realities of life.
In a few weeks, Spring Training begins for baseball in Florida and Arizona. The storyline continues as fans gather around their team and learn a new line up of players. A new season means a fresh start for our team and for us.
We await those familiar words: ‘Play ball’!