As March is coming to a close, and April begins, for those of us in New England thoughts go to Sox baseball. The anticipation of what the long season has in store. If October will bring another championship or disappointment that many lifelong Sox fans had known for 86 years prior to 2004.
My love of baseball & the Sox spans my entire 48 years, mostly because of Pops. From a very young age, there was a baseball in my hand and Pops was there to catch it.
|Pops started me young|
I was lucky enough to grow up where the Sox AA Eastern League farm club played. From 1983 to 1995 the New Britian Red Sox played at Beehive field, right around the corner from our house. We were able to see many greats come through the system like Brady Anderson, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling & Mo Vaughn. For some of these years my parents had season tickets and we could be found most games sitting on the third base side.
It was always a family affair to go to the ballpark. Even my older sister soon became an usher at the games, as one of her first jobs.
I, of course, played little league baseball. Hopeful to make it to the big leagues myself one day. Little did I know, I would get closer to it sooner than I could ever imagine.
|Stepping into the batter's box|
|Taking a nice swing|
|That's me, third row from the front, center.|
My little league coach had friends at the stadium, and he heard that they were looking for a new bat boy. Luckily, being great friends with Pops, he thought of me. Pops took me down to the stadium and we talked to the manager. He must have liked what he heard, or was perhaps living vicariously through me, and said that if I wanted to take the job it was ok with him. Well, it was ok with me!
As a young kid, it was amazing to get to be in the dugout with the players or to be able to go with the team on away games and get to know them on a personal level. I don't think I appreciated it as much as I should have back then. But looking back now, it's pretty amazing to think that Roger Clemens used to give me rides home after the games. Or that I would go fishing with my dad, Tom Bolton and Charlie Mitchell. That it was normal for players to come over to the house for dinner. It all seemed natural and fun, not like a job at all. I would have done it for free but getting paid $20 a game didn't stink.
|Eastern League Pilots from 1985 & 1986|
|Roger Clemens autograph from 1983|
As I got older, I had several chances to go with Pops and Mom to Fenway Park to see the Sox play. We had plenty of great times visiting the park that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
|What a view!|
|The Green Monster|
|The Iconic Budweiser sign|
|A view from the street.|
|A panoramic view|
This will be my second opening day without Pops. If I listen hard enough, I can hear him upstairs, sitting in front of his computer, listening to the game on his little clock radio. "The best way to take in the game" according to Pops.
|A beautiful display by Pops, a lifelong Sox fan|