When I took my young family to Boston, I had it all planned out. Quincy Market had the food. The TD Garden had the statue photo-op with Bobby Orr. Old Ironside would be a must-see. But when it came for me to visit one place in particular with my nine-month-old son, it was Fenway Park.
As a Canadian from Ontario, you are ritually brought up to love hockey, even with a father from Europe. Everyone you know is waking up at the wee hours of the morning, getting some Tim Horton’s coffee or donuts, and making their way to either their jobs or the ice rinks. My grandfather even brought me to meet Bobby Orr when he visited our home town. He was one of the nicest men I had ever met. He was from Ontario as well, but he spoke so fondly of Boston, that I always felt there was a strong connection between Beantown and my home.
The family values and lifestyles seemed so similar. The grind, the cold, the community involvement, the coffee and donuts (Dunkin’ Donuts), the passion for sports and their identity. Becoming a teenager only confirmed it for me, as Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip wore a Bruins sweater in the video for “Courage”. Considering the Hip are pretty much synonymous with Canada and music, it reaffirmed my conclusions that Boston was a kinship.
Except, as much as the Bruins and hockey are loved in Boston, I discovered that the city loved one team even more: the Red Sox. Being a child, raised into basketball and surrounded by hockey nuts everywhere, I felt different by loving baseball so much.
I wanted to look more closely at this connection first-hand, but I never found my way to even thinking that visiting Boston would be a possibility. Then, when my wife proposed a trip for my birthday to drive through to Boston, I was excited. The cathedral of Boston was calling out to me, and all that I wanted to do was sit in a seat and worship as only a Red Sox fan can do.
I knew the history. I knew the players, past and present. I knew the hatred for the Evil Empire. But, I never knew how much it would mean to me to be pulling up to Fenway Park. We took the Old Trolley Tour bus to Fenway, and, as we pulled up to the statue of Ted Williams, I felt humbled and happy. I shed a tear, which I was never prone to doing about anything in my life. I couldn’t understand why I did that. Something about the atmosphere of standing in front of The Kid while holding my son’s hand made it special to me. For the first time, in such a long while, I felt like I was home.
** Part II will be in next week’s edition of Red Sox Memories. Share with us some of your memories of Boston, Fenway Park, and the Red Sox.