The Boston Red Sox and the Irish go back a long way.
Today marks St. Patrick’s Day around the world. A day where everything and everyone are, at least, a little Irish. Even the Red Sox uniforms go green, according to third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s Instagram account:
Even if you are from Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, the Irish flavor abounds. Everyone wants to get into the party spirit, so it isn’t hard to convince people to go green, no matter what race or creed.
Yet, for Boston, it’s more than that.
Kim Knox Beckius, a New England travel expert, reported saying, “St. Patrick’s Day draws more than 600,000 visitors to Boston–a city with a long-standing Irish tradition. Boston held America’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 1737, and the city still boasts one of the nation’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades, plus more Irish pubs than any other place in the USA.” Arguably, it is considered one of the biggest, if not the biggest, parades in the country, besides the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
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Sometimes, during the festivities, the consumption of alcoholic beverages clouds the purpose of the day, not to mention the judgement of party-goers. However, the Irish take the holiday pretty seriously, even with a pint of Guinness or Kilkenny in their hands. They have much of their sense of identity connected to the holiday. “According to
, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The
says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted ‘thousands’. Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.” Without analyzing each part of its history, the evidence over the years has mounted that religion or ‘belief’ is a fundamental part of the Irish and why they are so passionate about life. ‘Wearing of the Green’ has become associated with that passion, as St. Patrick supposedly wore a green shamrock to symbolize his beliefs.
It is no different in Boston.
Regardless of religion, many Bostonians descended from Irish roots, with St. Patrick as a major symbol of their culture. According to NorthEndBoston.com, “General George Washington even used the password ‘St. Patrick’ as a secret code for his Colonial troops on Evacuation Day, March 17, 1776, when the British Militia ‘evacuated’ Boston.” The population grew, as the Irish immigrants protected each other in numbers. “Over the 40-year period, from 1815 to 1855, over 1 million Irish emigrated to America. Boston was a major destination, the North End neighborhood its poor haven.”
Between the Irish victims in the Boston Massacre, Patrick Collins becoming the first Irish-born Congressman from Boston, and all of the Irish immigrants influencing the country in between, it’s no wonder that St. Patrick’s Day would mean so much to the Massachusetts city.
Feb 8, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster takes part in the festivities in the annual spring training equipment truck day departure outside of Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Why, after all of this green, then, do Bostonians love the Red Sox? The color was a decision made in Cincinnati, when the first professional baseball team moved to Boston, which is well-documented. After a number of different teams and names floated around the city, tradition rose from the ashes in the form of red socks.
However, look at the other traditions. The Boston Celtics have an Irishman on their logo, while their team name is spelled to be pronounced ‘Keltics’ like the Irish people, before they had a fully-recognized country of their own. They call Fenway Park ‘the cathedral’ of Boston, where fans go to ‘worship’ the game and the team. The house for this worship is, ironically out of all the colors that could have been picked, painted green. The towering left-field wall is known as the ‘Green Monster’. Wally, the mascot, is a green creature that children love. Red Sox Nation devoutly called forth their passion to exorcise the demon that plagued them for so long, never winning the World Series after the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ until 2004. The pair of socks as their symbol is as praised as St. Patrick’s shamrock, shown to Bostonian children as their source of pride and honor. How are these iconic traditions any different than the Irish culture?
When the blood boils for every Yankee hit, you can bet there is some Irish in that anger. With every Red Sox victory, there is a bit of Irish pride floating in the air. The singing during the seventh-inning stretch and the singing at the pubs in Dublin: difference? The Irish identity and Red Sox Nation: one in the same for many millions of Americans. The Red Sox wear red and white, the American flag is red, white, and blue; however, today, the American people of Boston and Red Sox fans around the world will be wearing green. How about you?