I am a fan of the Boston Red Sox; no, make that a diehard fan. Granted, there’s probably no surprise in reading that, and that’s fine.
Last Friday’s Sox comeback vs. rival New York ranks right up there with the thrilling Game Six of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Jason Bay’s game-tying home run the other night against the so-called Godfather of closers, Mariano Rivera, reminded me of Bernie Carbo’s game-tying home run vs. the Cincinnati Reds in the Fall Classic.
And when Kevin Youkilis smashed one over the wall in the 11th inning, I couldn’t help thinking about Carlton Fisk’s epic home run to end Game Six.
All this fan stuff caused me to think about the different levels of fans.
I’d say there are three.
First, you have the fair-weather fans.
Those fans fall into a classification of followers of the team when things are going well.
I’d say that I am a fair-weather New England Patriots fan. Admittedly, I came on board when the Pats got on their Super Bowl run. True fans, the diehard ones — the next category, suffer with all the ups and downs of the team, and they are richly rewarded when the team starts winning.
Fair-weather fans can be annoying to the true fan. I would classify myself as a true fan of the Red Sox because I have religiously followed the Old Towne Team since the fall day in 1960 when my father summoned me to our den in Winterport to witness Ted Williams’ last at-bat on TV.
“You’ll tell your kids about this,” he said. You know what? He was right.
Since that historic day when the Splendid Splinter hit a home run, I have watched or listened to nearly every Sox game.
I suffered through the bad years. I tolerated the number of blown games, and I reveled in the glory — like most of you — when the Sox came back from oblivion in the ALCS vs. New York in 2004 and went all the way to World Series magic that year and in 2007.
I don’t mind the fair-weather Sox fans who hopped on board that winning train. I really don’t.
What bothers me the most are the fanatics.
By definition, those fans want to argue with you on any given subject regarding the Red Sox.
I’ve never been much of an arguer, really. But those kinds of fans will dispute you on anything related to the good old Sox.
Case in point.
Try pitting someone you consider to be the greatest of all time up against any Red Sox player.
Who is the best shortstop of all time?
You say Cal Ripken.
Nope. Fanatic fans say Rico Petrocelli. I think you get the picture.
Add to the aura, the way they dress and act at games. Outlandish would be the description.
Enter into a discussion with this fan, and you’re likely to walk away angry.
Yes, there are three kinds of fans for my money: fair-weather, the true fan or the diehard one, and then comes the fanatic.
Ah, it’s baseball. The sun is out, and I’m on my deck, radio in hand. Can summer be far away?
30-Second Time Out
Add two new baseball books to your spring and summer reading list.
“The Yankee Years” by former New York manager and current Los Angeles Dodger skipper Joe Torre and longtime sportswriter Tom Verducci and “The Rocket That Fell To Earth: Roger Clemens and The Rage for Baseball Immortality” by Jeff Pearlman, best-selling author, have provided this old coach with some enjoyable reading. Torre and Verducci’s book has been on all best-seller lists for some time now, while the sad Clemens’ tale is starting to get national attention, as evidenced by a recent appearance in Sports Illustrated magazine.
With the start of the professional baseball season, these popular books have filled in the many hours while I waited for all this good weather to arrive.
Torre comes off as expected: classy and quietly forceful, while Clemens disappoints. I never thought I’d witness the downfall of such a shining star.