Chilean Chronicles, Part 88: Far Away From Home, But Boston Still In My Heart

I turned 10 years old the day that Carlton Fisk hit his legendary home run in Game 6 against the Cincinnati Reds.

I had just turned 21 when Bill Buckner committed the most agonizing of all Boston errors in another Game 6, letting a routine grounder go through his legs and opening the door for the New York Mets to escape from twice being one strike away from defeat and eventually triumph in Game 7.

And I was in the waning days of being 38 when my brother Jon and I watched Aaron Boone hit a blast off of Tim Wakefield in extra innings to send the Yankees to the World Series-a defeat that prompted our middle brother Mike to call and howl in anguished tones, “The Holocaust. Rwanda. The Yankees over the Red Sox. Must evil always triumph over good?”

For decades, generations really, being a Red Sox meant both being intensely knowledgeable about the team and the game-while we were growing up, Mike and I particular waged fierce battles daily at the breakfast table for the Boston Globe’s sports section-and being witness to our beloved team losing in the most ignominious fashion.

No lead was safe enough.

The Red Sox had an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Being a Red Sox fan, at base, was synonymous with suffering, with being good, but not quite good enough.

Those days are gone.

Long gone.

Riding the arm of John Lackey, the bat of Shane Victorino and the irrepressible leadership and unprecedented slugging of David “Big Papi” Ortiz, the Red Sox rode into history with their third World Series triumph in a decade, 6-1, over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The victory culminated a turnaround from last year’s cellar-dwelling performance and ended a swoon that had begun in September of 2011 and that included the release of beloved manager Terry “Tito” Francona and the departure of fellow Brooklinite and wunderkind Theo Epstein.

Here in Chile, Dunreith and I weren’t able to watch the game.

But we followed it.

We are up way beyond when we should have turned in, following every out as the Sox moved to a conclusion that in retrospect almost seemed predestined.

The pain caused by the three consecutive Game 7 World Series defeats and the home runs by Yankee journeymen Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone has been healed for nearly a decade.

After years of abuse and being forced to move his family from New England, Buckner was brought back for Opening Day the season after the Sox terminated their 86-year drought in 2004 by sweeping the same Cardinals.

This year is extra special, though, because of the damage done to the city and the region by the Marathon bombings.

Big Papi’s defiant and profane declaration about the city that labeled itself “Boston Strong” shortly after the bombing was yet another example of his perfect pitch with the region.

The World Series only burnished his legend further.

My brothers and I are middle-aged men now.

Mike and I are closer to 50 than we are 40.

I was startled to realize this morning when I read on ESPN.com that the Series would be clinched in Boston for the first time in 38 years, the article was referring to 1975, not 1967.

Mike and I are husbands and fathers, while Jon is an internationally known and recognized photographer.

I spoke with each of them separately via Skype after the Red Sox victory.

Jon was in Chicago, Mike in London.

We whooped and yelled and laughed and reminisced about the bad old days and speculated about whether Big Papi will make it to the Hall of Fame one day.

We exclaimed that this team of bearded men was actually a likable bunch of guys who had stayed strong and played clutch and deserved the championship they had won.

Jon kept saying how excited he was.

Mike had stayed up to 3:30 a.m., even though he had a meeting in four-and-a-half hours. Far from the anguish a decade ago, his voice was filled with joy.

As you grow older, you learn that other things in life are more important than the fate of your home team.

But wherever you are physically, the ties that bind you to your roots only grow deeper.

So, too, does the gratitude you feel for being around to remember the earlier times, to savor the new victory and the tradition that continues to be created, to understand anew that the past is not destiny and to connecting yet again with my brothers in distant lands over what used to matter most of all.

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3 responses to “Chilean Chronicles, Part 88: Far Away From Home, But Boston Still In My Heart

  1. Read about the earthquake in Santiago. Assume you are OK?

    Bette Adelman

  2. Fenway, I can smell the steamed hot dogs, burnt popcorn, and cheap beer. I sat in the bleachers with my uncles in game 6, 1967 – the Sox beat the Cards only to be defeated by Bob Gibson in game 7. So there was that nervousness again, despite the sweep in 2004, and who was going to pitch in game 7? Peavy? Pedroia’s near homer in the 1st inning calmed the nerves a bit, and perhaps shook Wacha’s youthful swagger. Lackey made it interesting by throwing many pitches right down the pike, and Gomes (all $5 million/year of him) continued to amaze by making routine catches look like Willie Mays magic and swing at the ball like he was in an Errol Flynn swashbuckler scene (I know, the home run, the home run). And I finally know what it is like to be a Yankees fan watching Uehara channel Rivera.

    Yes, I agree Jeff, three World Series championships in 10 years, makes the 3 defeats in 20 years that I witnessed seem like a very long time ago. Even helps heal the summer shocker from the Bruins!

    And surely anytime a bunch of bearded misfits can pull together to accomplish a bit of glory is an inspiration to all of us disillusioned by our pathetic body politic, eh?

    jack

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Jack!

      So great to hear from you, my friend. We had just been talking about you the other day, so your timing is perfect.

      I hope all’s well with you and your family. We’re having a fantastic time on many, many levels.

      Thanks again for your generosity toward Aidan and all of our family.

      I look forward to seeing you again when we return in late December.

      What’s up to your family, and more soon.

      Jeff

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