June 09, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Baseball glove and balls on the field before the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Field of Dreams and The Ties That Bind

My father passed away 15 years ago today. I miss him most acutely when I’m watching, playing or talking about sports, which come to think about it is quite a bit of the time. I don’t feel cheated that he passed when he was only 72. I do feel he got cheated though.

Dad was a lifelong New Englander. He loved the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. During his lifetime he saw a lot of Celtics championships and some great Bruins teams in the 70s hoist the cup more than once. But by passing in 1998 he didn’t get to see the great Patriots championship seasons of 2001, 2003 and 2004. He would have been so pleased after watching the AFL Boston Patriots get kicked around in the 60s and seeing the New England Patriots falter badly in ’85, ’86 and ’94 to finally get to the promised land.

But oh would we have had a wild time together when the Sox won it all in 2004 and again in 2007. To watch your favorite sports team – and make no mistake the Sox were his favorite Boston sports team –  your entire life and never see them win a world title is something no sports fan should ever have to endure.

Chicago, I’m with you. Could you just get it together one year, get this over with and win it all? I’ve got friends who are Cubs fans whose spouses scour the house before the start of the season hiding all the razor blades and sharp pointy objects they can lay their hands on.

By proxy at first and now in her own right, my mother, a rabid New England sports fan and a passionate member of Red Sox Nation, talks with me daily about the Boston sports scene among other things. I live in Virginia. My sister, mother and cousins live in New England. I love Virginia and the family I have created here. I do, however, miss being in the hotbed of the Boston sports scene as a native.

In 2004 mom called me in the ninth inning as the Sox were finishing their four game demolition of the St. Louis Cardinals en route to their first World Series Championship in 86 years. When Keith Foulke snagged the ball and flipped from the pitcher’s mound to Doug Mientkiewicz at first base to end the drought, I cried. It was joyous. After so many years of frustration I cut loose. It was exhilarating and at the same time bittersweet, for it was then that I realized why I was crying.

I don’t dream much. When I do I barely recall anything. A short time back, I had a vivid dream – at least by my feeble standards – about my father. I don’t remember exactly what was said but I do remember it was cordial and warm and it was the first time since he’d passed I think I actually could hear the timbre of his voice. It was reassuring. Dad, they did it – TWICE! Sit back in your easy chair with a beer and your 12 remotes before the age of universal remotes and know that I’m here representing and holding down the fort. The Sox brand and franchise have grown beyond your wildest dreams and I am blessed to write every day about the team you loved. If you were alive today I strongly suspect this singular act of devotion would have been the one thing that actually got you to drag your butt in front of a computer and get online.

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