October 28, 2004.
This morning I e-mailed with a friend. We discussed how much history has been made since the Red Sox last won a World Series. I was working on a file for one of my office’s clients who was born in 1919- just one year after that win. During his life he has seen the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11 and now the first Red Sox World Title since he was born. Isn’t it remarkable? The world can change so much and yet circle around right back to the beginning.
And speaking of circles my parents found my Louisville Slugger. After all these years and countless searches it suddenly turned up in the most logical of places. My mom reminded me that it bears the signature of Wade Boggs. I bought that bat in 1984 when Wade Boggs played for a little team called…the Boston Red Sox. It may take a lifetime to come around but some things are just meant to be.
The earliest object of my desire was a Louisville Slugger. I was nine years old and we lived across the street from a large field. At the edge of the field was a department store called Shultz’s. Each week I’d get permission to walk there by myself where I’d hole up in the sporting goods aisle looking at a wooden bat that cost ten dollars. I wanted it. Babe Ruth used one and that meant I could knock the ball out of any yard with the same bat- as long as it was wooden. Historical accuracy and all.
I became a baseball and Detroit Tigers fan after I saw the movie Tiger Town. I once lived in Detroit, although I was too young to remember it, which meant I had a history with the team. By the time I saw the Slugger I was a diehard Cubs fan. It came about because I liked Chicago better than Detroit, my best friend was a Cubs fan, and they had Mark Grace. He was cute even by nine-year old standards.
One day some family friends came to visit. They gave me and my sisters each a ten-dollar bill. The second that cash met my hand I was out the door. I couldn’t wait to get back and hit my first home run. I’ve never felt the same thrill of ownership as I did with that bat. It fit perfectly and swung like a dream except there was a problem I hadn’t anticipated. No one would play baseball with me. I ended up playing pitcher and hitter simultaneously but at least I hit pretty well; I always got the pitch I wanted.
We moved my 14th year and I couldn’t be involved in theatre. Fortunately the new town had a softball league and I joined immediately. I played center field and my first game I hit the long-anticipated home run. It felt exactly as I imagined it would, plus I got a free banana split. I wasn’t a great player but I did have great moments and I won the Most Improved Player award at the end of the season.
I only had that one summer to play ball. I went back to performing, bought the Field of Dreams soundtrack, and played catch with the kids I babysat. After college I moved to Boston, trading team loyalty for only the third time in my life. I lost my Slugger in the move and still think about where it might have gone.
Yet last night another dream came true for this hopeless romantic. I took a victory lap around my coffee table while neighbors cheered on the street and car horns answered back. I cried because I saw raw, gutsy, baseball history played in my lifetime and in my town. I’m not watching it on a movie; I’m not imagining it in my yard. It’s really happening and it reminds me of the lonely kid coveting a department store bat. It won’t change the world, or even my life, but it means that anything is possible.