My favorite Red Sox memory is when Ted Williams talked to me. What did he say? Well, I will tell you. Back in the 1940s, my brother-in-law, who owned the Dorchester Dye house, had a contract with the Red Sox to clean their uniforms after a ball game. One day, he took me with him to their clubhouse, where we picked up the various items and put them in bags to be cleaned. I was thrilled to pick up dirty socks from players like Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr. I saw Ted Williams sitting on top of a table and drinking a Coke. I went over to him, patted him on the back and said, "Nice game, kid." He said, "Go away, kid, and don't bother me." It didn't matter what he said because he did talk to me. This is a true story.
I wanted to share a wonderful experience our family had one day when we attended a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Aug. 12, 2006. This fine day, my two sons, Max and Jason, and I attended our first game all together along with Max's service dog Oxford.
It was a great game, and Jonathan Papelbon just had the game-winning save. As we filed out of our seats, we were in line for the elevator since Max suffers from muscular dystrophy and is bound to a power wheelchair. As we waited for many turns to get into the elevator, a lovely woman was talking to us and asking us all about Oxford. We had just had him for about six months at this time. We chatted for a while and continued as we boarded the elevator. We crammed in way in the back as it filled with fans. I turned to her and said, "Do you know which door will open when we reach the bottom?"
She said to me and pointed, "When this door opens, follow me, I am Jonathan Papelbon's wife and I want to take you to meet all the players."
My oldest son, Jason, and his girlfriend are huge Papelbon fans, so he was so excited! Long story short, she took us to meet Big Papi, Kevin Youkilis and, of course, Jonathan. She also took it upon herself to get Max a ball, glass case and a Sharpie for him to sign and take home. It was a perfect ending to a perfect special day with my boys! I always wanted to thank Ashley and Jonathan Papelbon for being so incredibly nice to our family. We truly appreciate it!
Back in May 2008, my granddaughter, Maggie Catlin, graduated from Boston University with a degree in physical therapy. Her family came from Redmond, Wash., to witness this happy occasion. Every time they come East it is a must that we go to Woodman's in Essex.
We were waiting for our order when lo and behold this guy walks up the ramp and I immediately knew it was Dustin Pedroia.
I approached him and said, "Are you who I think you are?"
He responded: "Yes, David Ortiz."
I gave him a big hug and told him he was my favorite player and he said, "Thank you." He was in Essex to give an award to a school for their donations to the Jimmy Fund. If you look back, it was right after that his stats exploded, he was named the MVP and was the recipient of many other awards. I think I helped.
For my 80th birthday, I was treated to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on July 13, 2008. Matsuzaka was the starting pitcher and Papelbon the closer in a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
I was seated in the wheelchair section of the State Street Pavilion. A ball pitched by Papelbon and fouled off by Kevin Millar rose up, whizzed past my head and bounced off the wall behind me! A nearby smiling attendant retrieved it and gave it to me! It was a momentous day for me to see a live game that I had longed for years to attend. The ball is enshrined in a case as a reminder of my extended birthday celebration, thanks to my dear family.
I had a lot of wonderful moments in my life at Fenway over the years. From taking in every opening day since 1999 to watching Ted Williams come out during the All Star game. (What a tear-jerker!) I met my wife a year prior and we both enjoyed going to games together and staying at home watching the Boys of Summer. It seems I have done just about everything at the park from running the bases at night to sitting in just about every section of the park. So I fell in love with my one true love and wanted to scream from a mountaintop to let everyone know how much I loved her. She does not care for mountain climbing so I got together with 35,000 friends and family members that summer to pop the question.
I was so nervous all day, carrying around the engagement ring hoping she would not go in my pocket for something. It was the fifth inning and the sign came up "Amie, Will you marry me? Love Ray." She just looked at me with this I-love-you-but-I-want-to-kill-you face. The funny part was she was speechless and everyone around us was trying to figure out who was getting married until someone yelled over here. I looked up, and the whole place was just silent looking on. She said yes, and the place went wild.
My then-7-year-old granddaughter, Jourdan Hourican and her dad, Luke, went to a Red Sox game a couple of years ago and had seats in the bleachers near the bullpen. Dice-K was warming up, and many kids were yelling and screaming for Dice-K to throw them a ball. Jourdan stood by quietly savoring every moment of the warm-ups. Eventually, Jim Farrell, Red Sox pitching coach, asked Jourdan if she could catch. She shyly responded that she could. Warm-ups continued, and suddenly a ball was tossed directly to Jourdan, who caught it barehanded. Her dad immediately took a picture of Jourdan and her Dice-K ball with his cell phone and sent it to everyone he knew. He explained to Jourdan that the reason she had gotten the ball was because she had shown respect to Dice-K while he warmed up rather than demanding that a ball be thrown to her and behaving rudely. She showed respect that the coach and pitcher recognized. Even though the ball was not signed, Jourdan and her dad treasure her gift from Dice-K. She even slept with it for a couple of nights and took it to school with great pride. It is in a frame box in her room where she and her dad cherish the ball and the Red Sox moment they shared.
In the spring of 2005, my husband, Tony, and I decided to go to the City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox were playing that afternoon. Even though we did not have tickets, we just wanted to go to the souvenir shop. The parking lot attendant was kind enough to allow us to park for just the short time it would take us to shop. When we arrived at the gates, I asked if we could just go into the shop as we did not have tickets to the game. The ticket taker asked me if we would like to go to the game. Yes, of course, but we don't have tickets. He handed over two tickets and said, "Enjoy the game!" Wow! But now we needed to find another parking spot since we couldn't stay where we were. "No problem," the man said. "You see that tree across the street? Yes. Well, under that tree is the mayor's parking space, but he is not here today so you folks go ahead and park right there." Is this a joke? No, we were just lucky that day. So we got to go to the game for free, see the Red Sox win and shop for souvenirs to remember this "wicked awesome day."
It was the weekend of July Fourth last season, when I took my two young boys, Ian, 6, and Gabriel, 8, to Fenway Park. It was their first visit to the venerable ball field. To make their first Sox game more memorable, I was able to enlist the help of a friend with front-office connections to get us in for batting practice. Before heading down to the field, we toured the office; we even shook hands with Larry Lucchino. That was just the beginning! Watching Youk, Papi, Pedroia and their teammates warm up made all of us giddy. We were standing in front of the dugout on the field! A quick walk to the Pesky Pole yielded three foul balls — there was nobody else there to shag them. Minutes later, we scored an Okajima autograph! When the Twins took the field to warm up, we sat on their dugout. We landed four autographs on a single ball! Adding to our enjoyment, Daisuke got the win. Any dad wanting to do something special for his Little Leaguers will appreciate how special this outing was. The boys and I are looking forward to another trip to Fenway this season!
One of my best trips to Fenway was when I got to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on home plate! I was with a small group of people, and we were led through the underbelly of Fenway and then suddenly popped out right behind the plate. We stood waiting a couple of minutes for the announcement before we sang, so I reached down and grabbed some dirt and slipped it into a lunch bag that I had brought along for just that purpose. I gave it to my son Richard Slate, the biggest Red Sox fan that I know. It must have been magic as he now writes sports for The Gloucester Daily Times.
The Red Sox sponsored a Father's Day contest that I entered when I was about 12 years old. I submitted a short paragraph in 25 words or fewer (this was actually the difficult part) on why I was proud of my dad. I was one of the numerous winners and received my notification by a Western Union Telegraph bike messenger (itself exciting to a little girl from Dorchester!). The prize itself included box seat tickets to a game, lunch, baseball caps (wool at that time!), and programs for me and my dad.
I do not remember many details from the game itself other than¬ my dad explaining what we saw and¬ the Sox winning, but this opportunity made me a lifelong fan even in the years when I was no longer living in the Boston area. I only wish that I had saved the caps, ticket stubs and programs — just imagine what they would be worth today! The father/daughter bonding that day was priceless and the original reason for the contest became mutual pride for each other.
My favorite Red Sox/Fenway Park memory was in August 2005, when my girlfriend and I were taking a tour of Fenway Park with my daughter Jessica, who was 5 years old at the time. It was the last tour of the day and after touring the park we were seated in the front row watching the team warm up for that night's game. Johnny Damon was positioned closest to us and even though he was pretty far from us, he threw a ball over to my daughter. The ball did not quite make it to the wall so I put my daughter over the wall, and she ran out and got the ball. She was very excited, this was her first trip to the park, and she remembers every detail of that day. We took this picture of her.
David W. Smith
I used to work nearby a local diner in Salem, where many of the locals would meet for breakfast. Every few months, our small office would walk over for a quick "working" breakfast, hoping to grab a bite to eat in the back. One morning we were lucky enough to get to that back corner, and I noticed on the coat pole a name: Pesky Pole. Though a pretty decent Red Sox fan, I did not know who or what that meant. It took only a few minutes to be brought up to date as to whom that famous pole might actually belong to, Johnny Pesky. Now, of course, at any of the next games I watched on TV, there somewhere during the game, one would see the beloved Johnny Pesky either walking around the park or sitting in the dugout.
What luck for at one of our next monthly breakfasts, there, sitting in the coveted corner, was none other than the legendary Mr. Pesky, all Red Sox coat, World Series ring adorned, surrounded by what appeared to be lifelong friends. It was great to see him there, sitting like the rest of us, eating breakfast in a great little diner.
My favorite Red Sox memory is taking my then-11-year-old daughter to Baltimore for her first Red Sox game in the spring of 2005. We took a weekend bus trip to Camden Yards, which included two games between the Sox and the Orioles. It was amazing to see how well-represented Red Sox¬ nation¬ is in Baltimore.
My daughter was so excited to see all her favorite¬ players right in front of her. Papelbon, Varitek and Ortiz, too. Watching her¬ excitement reminds me of Red Sox memories with my dad. We had so much fun on our road trip, we did it again the next year with my dad.
My girlfriend and I are lifelong Red Sox fans. Our husbands are not into baseball, so we have been going to games together for years, but we could never get tickets to a Yankees game. So back in 2000 we decided to go and see "the man on the street" (if you know what I mean!) outside the park. We were very excited to be finally going to a Sox/Yankees game. Once inside we went to our seats, first base grandstand, and we were surrounded by many empty seats, which we thought was a little odd. Then around the second inning the seats began to fill in with men all wearing Yankees gear. We realized we were sitting smack in the middle of about 100 New Yorkers! Come to find out they all came in on buses and were New York city police and firemen. It was a little strange at first, but we ended up having a ball. The Yankees fans were really good sports. Thank goodness the Sox won!
Cindy Dellea and Barbara Mortalo
This photo was taken in 1982 during Red Sox spring training in Winter Haven, Fla. Our family had taken a trip to Disney World and decided to drive over to catch a Red Sox practice. Ted Williams happened to be walking by us, and a couple of ladies stopped him for a picture. We got our turn next. My husband's the real baseball guy and always jokes that he should have been in the picture.
George and Linda White