Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Red Sox Nation is for real

When I became a rabid Red Sox fan a number of years ago, I thought Red Sox Nation was a cute way of tying Boston baseball fans together, sort of a shared affinity, more existential than physical.

I was wrong. It's a real thing and it has real value. And it's also got nice citizens who do things for each other.

Just like cops and firefighters wear insignia to identify themselves to colleagues, Red Sox Nation members have hats and shirts and other articles of clothing.

I learned it pays to wear your "B" or red sox because other members of Red Sox Nation, unlike the filthy swine from the Bronx, really care for each other.

For example, my wife and I were at one of the Disney parks a couple of years ago. I won't identify it further -- I don't want to get a fellow Sox fan in trouble.

We had dinner reservations for a certain time and were wondering if we had enough time to experience a nearby ride. I was proudly wearing the "B" and as I approached the ride's door, I heard, "Go Red Sox."

"Go Red Sox," I repeated. The fan, who was working at the ride, asked if there was a problem. I let her know of our dilemma. She said there was enough time for the ride, but not enough for the ride and the wait on line.

"Come this way," she whispered conspiratorially. She led us through a back door and to the loading area. "Wait here...you're on the next car."

We thanked her and sure enough, we were escorted to front-row seats for the next departure. We enjoyed the ride and got to the restaurant in plenty of time.

The benefit of wearing the Sox colors isn't just in things people do for you. Some time ago, my wife and I were traveling through Virginia. We needed to interrupt the trip in Alexandria, Va., while she was to attend a meeting scheduled to last about two hours.

I began wandering tiredly around Old Town. Of course, I was wearing my Sox cap.

It had been a long drive and I was too bushed to want to do much sight-seeing. I had been to Old Town many times before, and had seen many of the major sights, so I looked forward to two hours of boredom.

As I walked past a tavern near the Town Hall, I heard the familiar "Go Red Sox."

The speaker was a man in his 70s, a man who had tipped a couple back at the bar. I responded in kind and told him I wasn't surprised to find a Sox fan this far south. He said the Nation's population in the area was a bit thin. He had moved from New England and kept his membership in the nation.

For the next hour,and a half, we sat on a bench and chatted about everything from baseball to the politics of the area to why I didn't want to accompany him back into the bar -- I still had many hours to drive and I knew my wife wouldn't be able to drive the whole way back to Connecticut.

We parted and I slowly walked back just in time to see my wife emerge from her meeting. What could have been a horrible time ended up as a wonderful afternoon because of the affinity of Red Sox Nation.

So, friends, the take-away message is threefold: Red Sox Nation is for real, it is up to all of us to do what we can for our fellow fans and seek out the pleasure of another fan's company.

Go Red Sox.

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