Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Than A Game

The current owners of the Red Sox have a marvelous sense of history. They understand that today’s team is built firmly upon the shoulders of all the players that came before. That respect for the former players and that sense of stewardship of the team, came together beautifully today at Fenway Park, in Boston. On the 60th anniversary of the first “Bobby Doerr Day”, the Sox honored the great second baseman once again. According to Mr. Doerr, now 89, this might be his last visit east from his home in Oregon. But what a visit this was.

Shortly before the start of this afternoon’s game, the players were warming up on the field. Four young men tossed the ball back and forth, all of them dressed in the uniform of the late1960s. Music played which sent us back to images of “Field of Dreams” and “The Natural”. Slowly the four came together and walked side by side across the field. Now we could clearly read the numbers on their jerseys: 1, 9, 6, and 7. This season has been dedicated to the Impossible Dream Team of the 1967 Red Sox. 1967 was the first time the Sox had made it to the World Series since 1946. The four guys stepped through a green doorway which had me thinking of cornstalks in an Iowa field, and emerged moments later behind a 1946 Ford convertible. Seated up on the back deck, his friend and teammate Johnny Pesky below him in the back seat, Bobby Doerr waved to the cheering crowd. Slowly, the Ford with its precious cargo, drove around the warning track.

The ceremony which followed was a fitting tribute to Bobby Doerr. But he wasn’t standing there alone. He was surrounded by hundreds of ghosts, from over 100 years of Red Sox players and Bobby spoke for all of them. He did them proud in a heartfelt speech in which he thanked the current owners for never forgetting the former players.

Love, respect, family, history, the genealogy if you will, of a great sport, played by hundreds of sometimes all too human men, across a turbulent century, in a great but imperfect city. We all need a sense of where we fit in this world, not just in the present moment, but across time. The current ownership of the Red Sox gets it and we’re the richer for it.

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