Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Re-Living the 2004 Red Sox and My Grandfather

As the Red Sox get ready to celebrate the 2004 Championship team at Fenway tonight, I thought I would post this column that ran in the Norton Mirror in October of 2004 celebrating that championship.  This one is for my grandfather.

By Bill Gouveia


            I never thought I would live to see it.


            When the Red Sox stormed the field in St. Louis Wednesday night after sweeping the Cardinals for their first World Series championship in 86 years, they did much more than just win a world title.  It was so much more meaningful and significant than that.


            The victory by the Red Sox validated generations of New Englanders who have lived and died with this institution, this team that represents not a city, not a state, but an entire region.  For so long now this baseball team has been a symbol of the rugged determination we in the Northeast have, as well as the frustration we have had to live with for decades.


            As I sit here in the immediate aftermath of something I have waited my whole life to experience, my thoughts are not of baseball.  They are not of the exciting comeback against the Yankees, the heroics of David Ortiz, the courageous pitching of Derek Lowe, or the crowning of World Series MVP Manny Ramirez.


            No, my thoughts are about friends and family members who longed to be around for this night, this event, but could not be here.  My thoughts are about how lucky I am to have been around for this, to have my faith rewarded, and to be able to share it with those I love.


            I think of my grandfather Connie Houghton, who bought me my first baseball glove when I was too young to know what hand it went on.  He taught me to love the game, gave me something I could share with him, and instilled in me the tradition of rooting for your home team and being a real Red Sox fan.


            Connie took me to my first Sox game in 1965.  We sat in box seats just a few rows behind the Boston dugout.  The Kansas City Athletics were the opponents in a doubleheader.  We lost both games, Tony Conigliaro hit a home run in the second contest, and I was officially inducted into Red Sox mania.


            Ten years later that nine year-old kid got to pay his grandfather back a little bit.  I got two tickets to the Sox-Oakland playoff game at Fenway Park, and I had a ton of friends who volunteered to go with me.  But there was only one person I wanted to be with me at that game.  And today, it remains one of the most vivid memories of my life.


            I looked around the room as the last out was recorded Wednesday night, and I will carry those images in my mind forever.  I see my two sons hugging each other deliriously, and I knew exactly what they were feeling.  This was a night, a moment, an experience that I will always treasure being able to share with them.


            Many people who are not sports fans are nonetheless celebrating this week, because the truth is the Red Sox are about more than sports.  The Red Sox are as much a part of New England life as the leaves turning color in the fall and the college students heading home for the summer.


            Red Sox fans, your faith and support has at long last been rewarded.  So many other teams have won the World Series in the past 86 years, and each one of them had fans that enjoyed it and relished it.


            But none of them – not a one – meant as much to their collective community as the Red Sox.  You have to be a real Sox fan to understand that, but it is true.  Our faith, our perseverance, our very existence has been validated in a way only the faithful can truly comprehend.


            And for one night, I am nine again.  I am holding my grandfather’s hand as he gazes down at me, smiling the smile that only winners can flash.  All across New England, others are going through similar moments.


            They did it, Connie.  Just like you always told me they could.  Let’s celebrate. 

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