Sox Diary (Part 2): For Papa
(From an email I sent to myself at 4:12 this morning):
When I was a little kid I spent the bulk of my time at my grandparent's house, which is where my Dad ran our dairy farm. And that is where I used to watch Red Sox games. It was a time before cable, and all of the Sox games were on channel 38 from Boston.
My grandfather was the hardest worker I've ever known. He'd put in a full week at the lumber yard, and then would come home and work until nightfall on the farm -- milking cows, repairing fences, fixing tractors, or whatever else it took. He was a man who expected dinner on the table at 5:30, after which he'd go out for a few more hours to feed and milk the heiffers with my dad, and when he'd come in inevitably I'd be watching the Sox.
He always said the same thing. My grandfather was a salty old New Englander. He said exactly what he felt. Always. (That's where I got it from, folks). And every time he'd come in, see me watching the game, worshipful of my heroes in doubleknits, and he'd say a variation on the same thing:"Jesus Christ, these goddamned sonofabitchin' dummies always lose." Of course then he'd always sit down in his recliner and he'd watch the game with me. When they'd win, I'd get some variation on"Well, those dummies got it right this time." When things didn’t go well,"I told you, those goddamnedsonofabitchin dummies would lose."
But not so deep below the surface he always wanted them to win. (He said the same thing when the Pats were on. Or the Bruins. Or the Celtics. Or, to be honest, when I was playing football for the Newport High School Tigers. The man was an equal opportunity curmudgeon.)
God, I loved my grandfather.
Then after I had graduated from college and had also gotten my MA, I won a fellowship to South Africa. My biggest worry was that something would happen to Papa, and I would not be there for him. I made it through most of the year, and it happened. The heart that had not failed him when he had a massive heart attack when I was in high school got to him when he tried to bring his beloved dog Goldie to be put away. He died putting Goldie in the van. By the time I would have gotten back to the States, Papa would have already been buried, so I stayed in South Africa, and it broke my heart.
So now I think of him. Oh, I can imagine the string of profanities he would have strung together when the Sox fell down 0-3 to the hated Yankees. (Papa was, it can be said, no fan of anything related to the very idea of New York). But he would have known that I was watching. And he would have chided me (if by" chided" we mean calling me a goddamnedsonovabitchindummy) for believing. But he'd have watched too. Because underneath it all he believed. He wanted to believe. He just did not want anyone to know it.
We won tonight, Papa. We won. I have cried almost all night. I'm a goddamnedsonovabitchindummy. But they finally did it.
They finally did it.comments powered by Disqus
Derek Charles Catsam - 11/1/2004
I envy you. I never got out of the Odessa-Midland metroplex for the WS, but I'll be getting up there to bask soon enough. It has been an incredible week, and my feet are just beginning to touch the ground again. I'll keep everyone posted about the book, if it ever comes to that.
Greg Robinson - 11/1/2004
Congratulations Derek. I hope your diary finds a publisher and I can purchase it for all my long-suffering Red Sox friends. I was in Boston on Thursday hoping that there would be a game 5 being played. Of course there wasn't but being in the city (for the first time) was an amazing experience. Banners everywhere, people walking on air, a buzz about the whole city. It was, even not being a Sox fan, very exciting. Took a tour of Fenway Park the day after they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. That was truly amazing. Though I don't share it, I can definitely understand the loyalty and passion that goes with being a Sox fan. Fenway is an incredible venue and one of my life goals is now to see a Yankees-Red Sox game there (though it is sad that the cheapest ticket is 44 dollars. It's not exclusive to Fenway, but I hate to see baseball becoming a sport only the rich can afford).
Oh yeah, and I saw some historical sights while there....ummm something about a war or something.
Derek Charles Catsam - 10/30/2004
It has been a fun (well, sometimes, and especially this last ten days) respite from the political world, but I'll be back to writing about all that by Monday. I hope you stick with us on Rebunk then!
Maarja Krusten - 10/30/2004
Haha on as long as they stay in the National League. Thanks for the good explanation of bloggers' tendency to be mutually reinforcing, makes sense to me. I envy the HNN posters who can post any time of day. Since I work for the government, I try to avoid posting while on official business, policies are pretty strict about what we can and cannot do, at least as far as political stuff is concerned. Occasionally I post from my Smartphone but that gets tricky, the browser weirds out sometimes.
Your Red Sox diary has been a refreshing read during a dispiriting election season--I lived through the Vietnam era and don't remember things feeling as bitter then as they do now. I'm afraid the "great divide" that all the pundits point to somewhat crept up on me, some of the rage I see about politics and opponents' viewpoints in HNN posters' comments has startled me. A lot of angry people out there. At any rate, your baseball postings are much appreciated!
Derek Charles Catsam - 10/29/2004
Thanks. We want as many people as possible participating on the blog comments. Those of us who blog are probably more inclined to be active, because we see ourselves as a mutually reinforcing community, but from what I can tell we have readers from all over the place who rarely reveal their presence!
The O's will rise again. They almost did in the Sox this year. Having lived in DC for a few years, I am looking forward to them getting a team, and as long as they stay in the National League I'll be supportive of them.
Thanks again --
Maarja Krusten - 10/29/2004
I've noticed that much of the discourse in response to HNN's blog articles is among blog authors, that is, among people whom HNN permits to blog officially on its pages. If you don't mind a comment added from someone who is just a casual reader, I already had read your post about your Grandfather before Ralph linkied to it. I found it very touching and beautifully written. Many thanks for writing it and even more for choosing to post it. And, of course, congrats on the wonderful win! It's been many years since my local team, the Orioles, has been a contender although we Washingtonians can hope for better days, I suppose. Since the 1980s, I've always rooted for Boston, also, and thus share in small measure some of your joy!
Derek Charles Catsam - 10/28/2004
I think that's a universal -- that most of us who love sports do so at least in part because we are, in a sense, born to it.
Thank you, and thanks again to Ralph for both of your kind words.
Manan Ahmed - 10/28/2004
I was suspicious when Ralph said this was the best post on the net about the Sox winning... and he is right.
Made me remember my grandfather and our conversations about Cricket.
Derek Charles Catsam - 10/28/2004
Thanks, Ralph. I wasn't sure how it would go over. In fact, I haven't been sure about a lot of these posts lately, and while comments have been scarce, I've gotten a load of supportive emails, so something's going right.
And let me tell you -- the emails and phone calls from friends, former classmates and colleagues, even exes, has been astounding. I'm walking on air.
Ralph E. Luker - 10/28/2004
What a great post, Derek.
- Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist
- Book on Losing British Generals Wins American History Prize
- Stanford scholar explores civil rights revolution's positive impact on the South's economy
- Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach
- Q&A with historian and author Nick Turse