I remember the summer I became a baseball fan. It was 1974; I was 15, lonely and bored. I was too old for camp and too young to drive. I was shy and bookish, but there was only so much reading a girl could do. I’d burned through all the Nancy Drew books when I was younger, and at that point had just about finished all the Agatha Christie mysteries.
My friends all seemed to have family vacations that summer; my family was staying home. I was probably one of the only kids that couldn’t wait until school started again; I didn’t know how I was going to get through the summer. One day, while channel-surfing past soap operas, I discovered the Red Sox. I tuned in to see a come-from-behind victory, and I was hooked. Little did I know what they would put me through that year and the years to come.
Unlike my friends, the players were there for me every day! Now I had something to look forward to, as the summer went on and the Red Sox racked up victory after victory and a 14-game lead over the Yankees. Not only were the players cute and not a lot older than me (I was at perfect crush age), I became fascinated by the statistics (good math practice on summer break). I bought baseball cards and checked the standings and rankings every day in the newspaper. With my newfound obsession, the summer flew by: until September came and the Red Sox couldn’t buy a run, and loss followed loss. Every day I hoped this would be the day the losing would stop. It was time to go back to school.
I soon made a new friend in French class, someone as obsessed with the Red Sox as I was. We secretly looked at baseball cards in the back of the class, and my writing began with penciling the Red Sox line-up every day on our two-person desk/table. Eventually the teachers figured out who was doing it, and we both had to stay after school and clean all the desks. No matter, we were as close as sisters at that point.
We took the train into Boston to Red Sox games. When she got her license (before me) we went to Pawtucket Red Sox games. When I got my license, we drove to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. My first published writing about baseball was a letter to the editor in the city paper. I began to keep a journal of our adventures at games. I ended up with one-hundred pages of “our story,” the longest thing I ever wrote outside of a paper for school. Then I had my first poem published about—guess what? I managed to write every paper in freshman English class on something to do with baseball: a descriptive paper about Fenway Park, a comparative paper about two managers, and an argument paper about whether or not the DH was a good idea. I excelled because I was writing about something that I loved, and I gained confidence–and the desire to keep writing.
Of course it was thirty years before the Red Sox won the World Series and by then my obsession had calmed down to an interest. I was now writing poems about other things and hooked on journaling about my feelings and my life. The Red Sox enriched my life that summer, and writing has enriched my life every since.