The bar was packed, even with over two hours until first pitch. Though, my father and I were able to secure two seats on the bar. We look to our right, and there was Fenway Park, right outside the window.
After exchanging some pleasantries with the bartender, asking what food was good and what not, I started to strike up a conversation with the gentleman to my right.
His name was Jay, native of New Hampshire, hard-core Bostonian, and one of the most pathetic creatures I know, a Red Sox fan.
Mostly everyone who knows me, understands of my devotion to the New York Yankees, and even more so, how I feel about the Sox. However, I’ve always been enthralled with the Red Sox fanbase, and never have had the chance to discuss their fan-hood with a native.
As I enjoyed my burger and he sipped on his IPA, it was clear that he loved the Sox, like really loved them.
“Every year, I change my license plate to something about the Red Sox,” Jay said. “In 2002, I had it to remember Ted Williams with his batting average and number, he also died that year, so sometimes it feels I had murdered him.”
We discussed everything, from the rise and tragic fall of Tony Conigliaro, and also his top five Red Sox players of all time, Williams being number one, David Ortiz at two, and then some forgettable names rounding out the list.
It came time that I asked him about the 1986 World Series, my personal favorite. 31 years after that historic, but if you’re a Sox fan it was a pure hellish night, and Jay is still in disbelief.
“It still baffles me,” said Jay laughing, but knowing deep down it still hurts. “We had them down to the final strike on two consecutive batters, how the hell does that happen? I still have nightmares about Bob Stanley.”
“And I’ll tell you something else, it wasn’t Buckner’s fault!”
After about 30-45 minutes of great conversation, I felt comfortable enough to tell him who I cheered for.
The way I said I love the Yanks was something out of Seinfeld. It was like the scene where George has to tell Susan’s father that his cabin was burned down. Its almost like I told Jay under my breath and very fast, very Costanza like. “Yankees!”
Towards the end, we talked a lot about what it means to him about being a Red Sox fan, and also the rivalry between Boston and New York.
“Baseball is just better when the Yankees and Red Sox are good, you know? 2003 and 2004, we’ll never have that again.”
I had always been fascinated by the fan-base of Boston, mostly because of the Red Sox, and how they somehow seem to represent the city that they play in, and my conversation with Jay perfectly fit my imagination.
He remembers exactly where he was during the 86 collapse. He could tell you what girl he was dating when Schilling pitched with a “bloody” sock. Jay embodied what you think of when you imagine a Red Sox fan.
As my father and I departed, I told him maybe we’ll see you guys in the playoffs this year. He raised his glass and said, “we can only hope so, go Sox.”
Also, his current license plate is in remembrance of October 27th, 2004, the day the Red Sox won their first title in 86 years.