Red Sox, Clay Buchholz No-Hitter Was Destiny For Todd Family


For Thomas Todd, a 42-year-old English teacher, the Boston Red Sox are family. So, when Clay Buchholz pitched his no-hitter in 2007, it was an incredible moment. Yet, the victory was simply the middle of an amazing adventure that can only be described as fate.

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Todd’s family lived in Canada, in the province of Quebec. His grandfather was born in 1898 and he loved the game of baseball. You would think that, naturally, he would be a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, the illustrious hockey club that has won 24 Stanley Cup championships since the 1915-16 season. You would also be completely wrong.

The Todd family would sit, almost religiously, around their radio and listen to coverage of the Boston Red Sox baseball club. It was one of the only things that their radio would pick up, so a bond grew between the team and the family, bringing everyone closer together. From the Quebec border, near Montreal, it is only a little more than four hours to drive to Boston, making the Red Sox the home-town baseball team for the Todds.

In an interview with this platform, Todd expressed how deep the Red Sox roots have grown in his family. “My grandfather was a fan, which meant my father had to be a fan. Then, when I was around, it only made sense that I’d become a fan, too.” He went with his family, including his father, multiple times to see Red Sox games in Boston’s Fenway Park, walking the streets of Charlestown all the way around to Yawkey Way. Todd and his father would talk with the locals, as they never go to games without walking around the city. The atmosphere is a “family-feel,” according to Todd, where everyone is friendly.

In 2007, one of those trips seemed to have been governed by the baseball gods. Well, for the Todd family, at least.

May 15, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

His father was listening to the radio, as his father once did, and heard about a silent auction for some charity. Four tickets, two nights at a hotel, a tour of the famous Green Monster wall in right field, and a lunch with two Red Sox players of your choice was the prize being offered. He bet $5 000. Unfortunately, an $11 ooo bid beat him; however, he was so excited about the idea of winning that he told Thomas that they just have to go to Boston, now. Father Todd was jonesing for some Red Sox action.

Plan B, after Plan A’s bid failed, was going to be three games for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of that fateful weekend. At the time, it was not fate, but simply an adventure that the Todds had gone on many times before. Thomas was told to book the tickets, with the expressed interest of getting Green Monster tickets, because they had never sat on it in all their years of going to the games. “[The tickets] were subsection Awesome on the Awesome Green Monster!” Very expensive, but very worth it, according to Thomas.

With any great story, however, there’s always an obstacle or twelve. The hotel that Thomas had booked had messed up his reservations; they only had the Todds booked for Friday night. Nothing could be done, as it was Labour Day weekend. It was also Labour Day weekend in Boston. It seemed like everyone wanted to be in the same city at the same time. Thomas would have to go back to work, as Canadian high school students begin school on the following Tuesday.

Tension started to mount. Is it worth it? Should father and son just cut their losses and go to the first game and return home? Not on this heroic journey. Thomas Todd made it their mission that they were staying in Boston. Forget all of the hotels outside of the city, with the major traffic jams and the possibility of missing the first pitch. That was just not going to happen.

After a very extensive search of an exclusive circumference of the city, with a desperate story that would make even the most stern hotel manager weep, the Todds found a hotel that would take them in for the rest of the weekend. Notice that there’s no mention of a room. They gave the two exhausted men a chance to stay in a conference room. Instead of a bed, they were provided with cots and a huge meeting table. “We’ll take it!” showing how much they wanted to be in Boston and watch their favorite team.

The next morning, on that fateful Saturday, the pair, who seriously earned their Red Sox Nation memberships the night before, went on their usual walk all over the city, visiting ‘old family members’. Just then, halfway through, Father Todd realizes that he had forgotten his scorebook.

“Well, it’s ok. You can score the Sunday game, Dad.”

“Ya, but I wanted to score this one.”

By lunchtime, they make it to Yawkey Way. Upon their arrival, the Todds hear the cry, “Free programs! Free programs! Get a free program, here!” Father Todd figured to grab one, while his son wanted to peruse the wares in the gift shops. While thumbing through the pages, Father Todd discovers, what many of you have already guessed if you ever had a program, “I got a scoresheet. There’s a scoresheet in the middle of the program … but now I don’t have a pen.”

As many of you may be exacerbated by that final remark, Thomas brought his yet-still-dejected dad stopped into the Dugout Cafe to refuel and recharge from this latest disappointment. It just so happened to be the same moment that Budweiser was doing a promotion, with the Bud Girls there, where they take your picture and put it on the web site to advertise the union the Red Sox and the beer company. The two men were asked to pose and they accepted. Afterwards, the one Bud Girl handed Thomas’ father a pen as a token of their moment together. Father Todd, filled with joy, motions to his son, “I got my pen!”

The victorious Todds strut into Fenway Park, up to their seats on top of the Green Monster, finally ready to take on the rest of the night. And what a sight it was. “You can clearly see why it is called ‘the best seats in baseball.'” It is so high up that you can see all of the park and around the park behind the walls, as well. The only catch is that you can’t see just before the warning track to the wall, itself. Yet, the real beauty of that fact hit Thomas like a home run to Alex Rodriguez‘s face, later that evening.

As many of you true members of Red Sox Nation know, that was the game that Buchholz wrote another chapter in Boston baseball lore; however, feeling what it was like being there when it happened is far superior to anything felt at home or reading it in the paper.

Apr 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox fans in the Green Monster seats at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Previous patrons of the Green Monster will tell you how to play ‘Mound Ball’. The row of fans will place a cup in front of one of them, filling it with a dollar. Sometimes, even more than that. If the umpire tosses the ball on the mound, the people place bets on whether the ball will stay on the mound or fall off, or any other scenario that they wish to play between each inning frame. If nobody wins, the cup moves in front of the next person, where the bets continue. The only time the cup stops is in the 9th inning, as the umpire won’t toss the ball with the game being over. Extra innings, yes. With the game likely out of reach, then no. Both games will end.

Not on this night, however.

Even though so many Baltimore Orioles “scorched the ball”, as Thomas observed, almost every drive went right to the defense for quick outs. By the sixth inning, the mood changed on the Green Monster. People were asking the Todds if they had looked at the score, in a silent, indifferent code to relate just how crazy the game was getting, with Buchholz yet to give up a hit. The Todds agreed, but nobody was expecting it to actually happen. Buchholz looked the same on every pitch, whether he had perfect location or missed badly.

Thomas, in this interview, remembered the top of the eighth inning the most, because of its incredible moment. Every pitch that Buchholz threw had the fans standing, cheering with joy if it was a strike and a boo for the umpire if it was a ball. Just then, a screaming drive was smashed, which made the crowd deflate by the crack of the bat, thinking it will be a base hit. Not to be outdone, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia “stabs it” with his glove, which made a quick jubilation that was only made into an amazing uproar of happiness, as Pedroia made a quick throw to first base to double-up the base runner.

All of it happened in a second, but it was something that jumped right to the hearts of all of Red Sox Nation in the crowd, including the Todds. Everyone was high-fiving each other and hugging. Thomas didn’t even know the men standing with him, but they embraced like they were long-lost family members, finally united. After the quick ninth inning, the buzz around Fenway was electric. Everyone proceeded to laugh, cheer, scream, and sing together. It blew away the Todds, to no end.

Especially much later, as Father Todd went for a doctor’s appointment, back in Canada, a few weeks later. He sat down and noticed the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. It had Buchholz on the cover, along with two men way into the background. From the angle that the photographer took, you could just make out Father Todd, looking down at his scorecard to record yet another of Buchholz’s nine strikeouts. Right beside the sagely scorekeeper was Thomas, or, at least, the bottom half of him, as he was standing and cheering for the result of the pitch.

The magazine recorded Buchholz throwing 115 pitches, 75 of them for strikes in nine innings, and had our two heroes captured, for the rest of the sporting world to see. All three men earned the victory that night. Well … except the Mound Ball cup. Thomas was quick not to continue with how that game ended.

The one thing that Thomas wanted to stress with this story was how deeply that family connection is in Boston. His family was made to feel like home. Everyone in Boston wears Red Sox clothing on game days, throughout the city. “The Celtics can win all of the championships they want. The Bruins can win. The Pats can have another dynasty, all they want. The Red Sox ARE Boston.”

His proof was another event at the game, on the Green Monster, that could have gone unnoticed by others watching on television. Kevin Youkilis hit a home run that night, right into the stands on top of the wall in right field. It went right to his family, whom happened to be there that night, with the Todds being made aware of it. Thomas said that “it was like Youk meant to do it. Like it was done for them, to make their night even better.”

That blue-collar philosophy, working hard to support the family, with the beards and the tarnished appearances, is reflected in the people of Boston, in a completely complimentary way. The Red Sox are not clean-shaven, in pin-striped uniforms like the dreaded New York Yankees. Neither are the fans. They are just working-class, wholesome people who treat you like their own family, if you show your pride for the family values. The biggest rule: you cheer for the Red Sox.

A great game turned into a great story, that will be retold again and again to further descendants of the Todds. It’s a story that happened to the whole Todd family, all 36 819 of them in attendance and the millions of them watching at home. Red Sox Nation and the Todds? Same thing. It felt like destiny that the Todds would see that game, and realize how big their family really is.

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