Cindy Burrell has been a Boston Red Sox fan as long as she can remember.
She explained that she was an only child and grew up sharing a love of the Red Sox with her dad. So you can imagine her excitement when H.O. Bouchard Transportation Services traffic manager Irvin Smith, who works with her husband Malcolm, arranged for her to meet Red Sox radio play-by-play men Joe Castiglione and Dave O'Brien before the eighth annual WZON Hot Stove Baseball Night at the Bangor Civic Center on Monday night.
"It was a great thrill," said Burrell, who has been confined to a wheelchair for nine years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1981.
The Red Sox have a special place in her heart and she epitomizes the loyalty of Red Sox fans in the six-state region.
"I listen to all the games. I live for the day the season starts," said Burrell. "I'm even looking forward to the spring training games."
Like most passionate Red Sox fans, Burrell is opinionated.
"Some of the trades I've liked, some I haven't," she said.
But the Palmyra native isn't complaining these days after the Red Sox acquired All-Stars Adrian Gonzalez, a slugging first baseman and Gold Glove winner, and Carl Crawford, a speedy left fielder and fellow Gold Glove winner. They also shored up their bullpen by obtaining Dan Wheeler, Bobby Jenks and Andrew Miller.
"Whenever the Red Sox get a player the Yankees want, I'm real happy. Things are looking good. I thought they did a fantastic job last year with all the injuries they had," she said.
For people like Cindy Burrell, who has limited mobility, the Red Sox supply her with a valuable source of entertainment.
Castiglione and O'Brien are aware that they are heard everywhere in the six-state region: homes, cars, beaches, boats, etc.
They become part of the New England lifestyle.
"We think about that a lot," said Castiglione. "It's fun. We realize how portable we are. Red Sox fans have great loyalty."
The Hot Stove Baseball Night has evolved into one of those nights you circle on your calendar.
New England fans love their Patriots — although that love is certainly being tested in the wake of another early playoff exit — and Celtics and Bruins but not as much as they do the Red Sox.
It makes sense. Baseball season has twice as many games as basketball and hockey and 146 more than football.
And baseball is the national pastime.
Castiglione and O'Brien genuinely enjoy the Hot Stove Baseball Night. Castiglione flew up from Florida and returned to Florida while O'Brien headed to Columbus, Ohio, to do Tuesday night's Purdue-Ohio State basketball game for ESPN-TV.
"The fans in Bangor are so positive even without signings or trades," said Castiglione. "They aren't as skeptical and caustic (as they are in the Boston area). They love the team and it's refreshing to see that. It's nice to get to outlying New England areas and experience that."
Castiglione and O'Brien give the fans what they want and more.
They both possess quick wits and have an entertaining banter with the fans during the question-and-answer periods.
They are honest and forthcoming with their answers. They don't duck questions.
O'Brien had the pleasure of doing World Cup games for EPSN in Germany in 2006.
"It was the greatest experience of my life. Every American should go overseas to see a World Cup in person. It will spin your head but in a good way," said O'Brien.