Monday, May 30, 2011

My Friend Bob and the Boston Red Sox

The year 2004 was momentous, full of great ups and terrible downs for me. Early in June I watched the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team I had started following when I moved to Florida, win their first Stanley Cup. A little later that month I lost my older daughter, a truly beautiful woman who succumbed to many years of alcohol addiction. In August there was another disaster when my Florida condo was severely damaged by Hurricane Charlie, which ravaged the state and single-handily changed the economics of Florida living, perhaps for all time.

Then in October, 2004, the Boston Red Sox came from three games down to win the American League pennant and the World Series, for the first time since 1918, and this really starts my little story.

In 1946 in Rhode Island, one of my best childhood friends, Bob, introduced me to baseball and to the Red Sox, who were in the World Series that year, but lost to the Cardinals. At that time, Ted Williams, the last .400 hitter, had just returned from military service as a Marine fighter-pilot in World War II to resume his role at the best hitter in major league baseball. (Ted would later, in the early 1950’s, take more time out of his career to become once again a Marine pilot, flying 39 combat missions during the Korean War.)

From the time Bob introduced me to baseball, the Red Sox and Ted Williams, we became inseparable companions who played baseball morning, noon and night, usually wearing out three sets of playmates every day. Eventually, as we went to different high schools and made our separate ways in life, we lost track of each other, and the Red Sox never won another World Series.

For more than 50 years our lives never crossed until the fall of 2004, when the Red Sox finally won another world championship. At the time I was living in my summer home in Rhode Island, and I decided that I had to find out if Bob was still around and where he was, so we could revel in the Red Sox win.

I took out my Rhode Island phonebook and looked up his last name, intending to call everyone with that name until I found someone who might know him. As luck would have it, the very first name I called was Bob’s older brother who gave me his phone number and e-mail address. I found out that Bob lived in a small town in North Carolina, and I immediately called him.

For six and one-half years now we have communicated by phone and e-mails and talked baseball talk and other things. We have tried to visit one another, but some crisis has always prevented it from happening.

Last week I discovered this video of Ted Williams, and I have placed it just below. This is for you, Bob:

If video doesn't play, go here.


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At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No team compares to the New York Yankees. They are special and have always been that way. And keeping with the many Yankee traditions, you don't see beards, long hair, funcky jewelry, or other body mutation. No freak show with the Yankees. A class act.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

I agree that the Yankees are a class act. One thing I've noticed is that the Yankees are the only team I've seen who consistently send most of ther regulars to play spring training games on the road.


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