Some of the best Boston Red Sox fans I know in Pierre have reason to smile today after their team clinched the American League East title on Friday night. They have 94 wins and 61 losses so far this season. The Minnesota Twins are 65-88; somehow I have managed to hear or watch parts of more wins than losses. My real team, the Milwaukee Brewers, is 68-85. Another team I follow, the Chicago Cubs, is 64-90. I have tracked the BoSox since the late 1960s, when left-fielder Carl Yastrzemski was my hero and I lost a nickel bet on the 1967 World Series to a schoolmate who was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Those were the years after Milwaukee lost the Braves and Henry Aaron to Atlanta, and before Bud Selig led the drive to bring back baseball to County Stadium and to Wisconsin. We lived in a town of about 5,000, its economy dependent on union / factory jobs and on dairy, about 50 minutes by interstate from the stadium. The town’s baseball field and Little League/softball field were across the street from the block where I lived. So I grew up with a love for baseball passed along by my mother and her mother and her step-father. I was painting the back of the house as I recall on the day I heard on the radio that the Braves were leaving. When the expansion Seattle Pilots finished 64-98 in 1969 and went bankrupt after their first season, the team was sold and moved to Milwaukee, re-christened the Brewers.
The altar boys of St. John the Baptist Church were bussed to an April game in 1970. It was cold. That is spring baseball outdoors. The popcorn boxes could be converted to megaphones and, if you closely looked, you could see how the white “Seattle Pilots” name was colored-over in blue to match the background and hide that they were leftovers. Milwaukee’s new catcher was a fellow named Phil Roof and I went hoarse cheering for him — cheering because the chant “Roof-roof-roof” seemed so catchy. (We were kids.)
The Brewers marked the end of my brief stay as a Red Sox fan. I have always kept track of the Red Sox, however, because they seemed to always come up with some great players. When they went on their winning binge in the past decade, and cable TV constantly featured Boston-NYY games, they grew old on me. What they accomplished this season is still admirable. They were poised by the prognosticators to finish last in a very, very tough East. They finished first. And while I hold no such hopes for the Brewers or the Cubs any time soon, I do for the Twins, only because the Twins have shown an ability to come back from disasters and win World Series.
I won’t be rooting for the Red Sox in the playoffs this post-season. I don’t think I’ll be rooting for any team in the playoffs this fall. There are some surprises and they all are worth following. But on this day, a hat-tip to the boys/young men/gray men throughout Pierre who have never been ashamed to wear those blue caps with the B. It’s their day. For me, once again, it’s wait ’til next year. But I’ll always have Yaz, who by the way won the Triple Crown AFTER I became a fan — no bandwagon here!