Hard to Believe: A Year Inside Red Sox Nation

Download ebook_Hard_to_Believe

That link represents my work resulting in MLB Advanced Media’s first-ever e-book: “Hard to Believe: A Year Inside Red Sox Nation.” I wrote it after the 2004 World Series and it appeared on MLB.com and redsox.com before the next Opening Day. Until this year it was available for $4.95 as a PDF download, complete with images and links. It was based on Curt Schilling’s message board post at redsox.com the Thanksgiving before they won it all, and also based on the time I spent with many new Red Sox friends in those days leading up to and after the World Series title. Just for the heck of it, I also am posting the raw, unedited version of the manuscript below as perhaps the longest post in the history of blogging (I doubt it). Any errors were mine and hopefully were caught in the final editing process before this was converted into the nice PDF. But I think you would enjoy seeing the final e-book product if you download from the link above…now it’s free and at least for Red Sox fans it could be a fun look back down memory lane before this fall’s craziness. – Mark

A Year Inside Red Sox Nation


“Will be hard to believe I am sure”
Title of message posted by Curt Schilling,
Thanksgiving 2003 at redsox.com


Melissa Tucarella, Boston
12:22 a.m., Oct. 21, 2004
“Ladies, In Honor of Toronto’s waitress” thread

Chapter 1: Success is counted sweetest

Dewey Marsh was only 22 months old at the time, and he is blessed to have no actual recall of what happened that day. He only can rely on what he has read or what he has heard from relatives and friends about June 9, 1953.<p>

The Marshes had just moved into a new home in Rutland, Mass. It was about 4:45 in the afternoon, and the family had just sat down to dinner: Father Don, 30; mother Midge, 29, sister Linda, 4; and little Dwight, who would become such a fan of Boston Red Sox outfielder Dwight “Dewey” Evans that he would one day take the nickname himself and post messages as “rsox4evr” in a futuristic world at redsox.com.<p>

A powerful tornado, a category F5 with maximum winds roaring up to 300 mph, ripped through Worcester County and into local lore. It smashed into the Marsh residence and only the foundation remained. Linda was found impaled through the upper torso on the branch of a nearby tree; miraculously, rescue workers were able to remove both ends of the branch and rush her to a local hospital for immediate surgery that saved her life. Midge — who would only refer to the disaster in later years as “the big wind” — had to be treated for injuries that included a back broken in three places.<p>

Don Marsh was the principal of Rutland’s elementary school, and he had been an outstanding baseball player who was offered a contract by the National League’s Boston Braves. He loved the Red Sox, followed them avidly that summer, and one day he was going to pass down that tradition to his little boy. But when rescuers found Don, he was laying face down on the ground, lifeless. They heard a muffled cry, and it became clear that a father had given life to his son a second time.<P>

“Rolling my father’s body over, they found me alive, crying and in his arms,” says Dewey Marsh, now 53. “He saved my life that day. The rescue workers had to cut the branch of the tree off and transport my sister as-is to the hospital, as they thought trying to remove it would cause more damage to her. She luckily survived. My mom couldn’t attend my Dad’s funeral, as she was recovering in the hospital. My father died from a skull fracture injury sustained during the storm.<p>

“My poor mother was in her late 20s, and had two small children to support and had just lost her husband in a terrible tragedy. I have to hand it to her — the three of us made it through. My mother was a Red Sox fan in her own right, and I have to credit her for giving me an interest in baseball and sharing that with me until she died in 1997. All I can say now is, ‘Thanks, Mom and Dad.’ . . . I appreciate life to the fullest.”<p>

Today, Dwight Marsh is a data storage technician for a company in Westboro. He is a father of two, and he understood the meaning of Red Sox Nation as well as anyone — and maybe more. It was a glue that helped hold his life together through the decades, a bridge to the memory of a father who saved him. Being a Red Sox fan offered a metaphor for life: of hope, of unyielding optimism, of tradition, of community that starts at Yawkey Way and reaches literally around the world.<p>

“I’ve been a <I>monstrous</I> Red Sox fan since I was about 11,” Dewey said. “I watch every game that I am able to on TV. The tough part was back in the ’60s, when cable didn’t exist, and you were lucky if you got to see the Sox televised <I>once</I> during the weekends. Most of the games that I ‘watched’ were on the radio. It was a great medium for hearing a game — no matter where you were: painting the house, lying in bed and supposedly asleep, or riding in the car.<p>

“So I’ve been a Boston Red Sox fan for over 40 years — through the highs and lows, and as most Sox fans know, there were more lows than highs. I attended my first baseball game in 1964 again the Minnesota Twins. I was at Fenway Park the night in 1967 that Tony C. was beaned — very scary. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for the first game of that year’s World Series. Jose Santiago pitched. I don’t know how my stepfather ever got those tickets, but I was blown away being there.”<p>

Blown away. Dewey Marsh’s world was once practically blown away just as it was under way. But he is here now, a grown man, with one of the countless unbelievable Red Sox Nation stories that can and should be told right now. Rarely has he been happier. What he and his kids saw in October of 2004 was the story of a lifetime, an honest-to-goodness dream come true. He and many like him had waited 86 years for a happy ending to a Major League Baseball season. And this time life was good.<p>

<center>* * *</center><p>

This was in the days of Camelot, now a long time ago. John F. Kennedy was the pride of New England in the White House, and the Red Sox were going through a long dry spell but hardly miserable enough for anyone to feel cursed. At Dartmouth College was a student who had grown up far away in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, who took a mild interest in a northeast baseball team.<p>

“I was a lukewarm Red Sox fan while in New Hampshire in 1961, with different fish to fry,” Thomas Wenger says today. “Dartmouth was an all-male environment in those days. When would the all-girl Colby College bus arrive at the corner of the Green? When was
the next roadtrip to Boston? Not for the museums, but to visit other centers for education, like Radcliffe and Wellesley. I went to just one Red Sox game in 1962 and they lost.”<p>

No one could know what direction America and the world would take in those days of Camelot, and certainly no one, not Thomas Wenger, not the people from around the world you will meet in the following pages, could imagine that the drought of world champions for the fabled Red Sox would be only <I>halfway</I> over.<p>

It was Emily Dickinson, pride of Amherst, Mass., who once wrote:<P>

Success is counted sweetest<br>
By those who ne’er succeed.<br>
To comprehend a nectar<br>
Requires sorest need.<p>

The nectar, not tasted by a Red Sox fan since 1918, finally was tasted again in October of 2004. It was not just a taste of the nectar, but a magnificent bath in the stuff. The Red Sox conquered the rival New York Yankees for the American League pennant by becoming the first team in Major League history to come back from an 0-3 playoff series deficit, and then they swept the vaunted St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series as if they never even noticed an opposing team on the same field.<p>

Wenger, now in his 60s (62 on Jan. 30, 2005) and a physician in the Rocky Mountain region of Red Sox Nation, was there to experience the sweetness. It had been his life’s work to know about a person’s sorest need, and he knew what that was for a Sox fan.<p>

“We were in Boston in October by chance at a medical meeting arranged many months before the playoffs were decided, so having the great good fortune to watch the city go nuts during The Comeback and again during the Series sweep was a true gift to us,” he said. “The FEVER swept us up and we watched every game even when I should have been in meetings. Was there any REAL choice?<p>

“When I went to Dartmouth those many years ago, I realized the frustration of the Sox fans then. Since then I went back to Texas where I had grown up and finished college at the University of Texas. I then attended Baylor Medical School in Houston and practice now in Colorado. I have been following the Colorado Rockies but without much enthusiasm. The visit to Boston at exactly the right time, though unplanned, reawakened my interest in the game and focused me back on the Sox. I plan now to sign up for satellite season coverage so I can watch the Sox make it two in a row.”<p>

<center>* * *</center><p>

Red Sox Nation grows and it grows. It starts with people like Dewey Marsh and Thomas Wenger. It becomes a way of life for someone like Fred Hale Sr., a Maine native who was 113 years old and the oldest man in the world when the 2004 season began, who finally saw his beloved Sox win one more time and then died three weeks later. It goes on with a Boston accountant named Leanne DeMarco, who felt that a curse must have lifted when a Sox fan named Brad, in a moment of timing that only he could appreciate, proposed to her right there in the early-morning hours on the warning track in front of the Green Monster after David Ortiz hit the Game 4 walkoff homer to start an historic playoff comeback against the Yankees. It welcomes teens like 16-year-old Koby Geller, who, during an August trip with his Jewish family to Israel, placed a note at the Western Wall that asked for a Red Sox world championship.<p>

Long after his own days of matriculation into Red Sox Nation, Thomas Wenger was on the Fan Forum message boards at redsox.com, eager to share his feelings with countless other Sox fans who are a connected world there. Posting under his familiar screenname of “soxxphan1″, Wenger began typing a haiku to capture the feeling of the long-awaited world championship. A haiku is a traditional three-line poem in which the first and third lines are five syllables each, and the second line seven.<p>

That <b><a href=”http://www.forums.mlb.com/ml-redsox/messages?msg=113249.1”>thread</a></b&gt; began:<p>

Now is a good time<br>
To be in Red Sox Nation.<br>
Let’s do it again!<p>

Eighty-six years passed<br>
Before we could dance for joy!<br>
A long, long dry spell.<p>

The boys of summer<br>
Have brought us out of despair:<br>
All’s well that ends well.<p>

I sat in the right-field Power Alley seats of Busch Stadium at the end of that unbelievable night of Oct. 27 in St. Louis, and watched agape as a tremendous block of Sox fans behind the champions’ dugout stayed there seemingly forever beneath the halflight’s glow, not wanting to stop celebrating . . . ever. I could almost feel an entire nation reverberate, intuitively — in pubs and dorms and homes back in New England; at Sonny McLean’s restaurant in what they call Red Sox Nation West out in LA; in England where ex-pats watched it live on MLB.TV; near a nuclear-missile base on Scott and Kay Provencher’s North Dakota prairie; in the Dominican; from Southwest Florida where the dream had begun every springtime for Susan Johnson, up to Toronto and the home of her sister, Dale Scott; and indeed seemingly everywhere people existed.<p>

All’s well that ends well, indeed, if you were a Sox fan who had grown up always wondering why it wasn’t <I>your</I> time to celebrate. I began contacting as many Sox fans around the world as I could in the following weeks, to understand the true feeling and the love inside Red Sox Nation, with an epicenter of the connectivity found not only at Fenway but also at a free-spirited message board.<p>

Wenger was one of them who I found there amid the bliss. I asked him via email how it felt and, as with so many others, for his Red Sox war stories.<p>

“Feeling the enormous collective sigh of relief that rose after the Series sweep from all of New England was a moving experience to us,” he said. “The haiku were spontaneous expressions of the experience, some thoughtful and others profane, not unlike many of the Sox fans’ outpourings after this incredible season’s finale had concluded and the reality had just begun to sink in.”<p>

Then he added a bonus:<p>

Red Sox war stories<br>
Help fill the E-book pages:<br>
History is made.<p>

Chapter 2: A time to give thanks

Generations of Red Sox fans grew up expecting their hopes to be crushed. It was a way of life, but it was their way, and so they embraced the annual ritual.<p>

The Celtics had won. The Bruins had won. The Patriots had even begun to win.<p>

Being a Sox fan was not a fate so kind, but the charm and the tradition of the chase seemed as natural as the seasons. The players would report for each Spring Training, and they were the new promise incarnate. They would settle into Fenway Park, the most beloved place in the game, and they would raise your hopes with the temperature.<p>

Some days at the yard were so glorious that the standings did not seem to matter, because you had a hot Fenway Frank in one hand and a scorecard or your child’s hand in the other. On those days, the rite of passage was as palpable as the clank of a liner off the Green Monster. Deep down inside, a Sox fan always knew that those were the important moments. But it is a collective competition just as it is a compilation of those precious moments, and there were those other days when you could close your eyes and feel the pangs in your gut as painful memories played over and over in your mind.<p>

Maybe they were witnessed first-hand. Maybe they were grandfather’s tales. However they got into the hippocampus, they stayed there and just built up. And then it just seemed like they came with the territory as a human being.<p>

Country Slaughter scoring from first for the Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series at Fenway, where Johnny Pesky supposedly held onto the ball too long before making the relay to home. Losing to Bob Gibson one more time in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series. Carlton Fisk hitting that beautiful homer into the night in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, and the Sox blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 7 and coming up empty against the Big Red Machine. Bucky Dent, of all people, hitting that freakin’ homer for the Yankees in the 1978 one-game American League East playoff.<p>

Mookie Wilson’s slow roller through Bill Buckner’s legs at first base in the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium. June swoons. “Red Sox ****!” catcalls from fans at the Bronx, where they beat their chest over 26 world championships and proudly proclaimed the “Curse of the Bambino.” The freshest hurt always hurt the most, too, and in November of 2003, Red Sox fans were still coming to grips and waiting for the first blanket of deep winter snow to softly white out what Aaron Boone had just done.<p>

“Having suffered through 1967, 1975, 1986 and 2003, I would find myself questioning my loyalties every fall — to a team that seemed snake-bit,” Dewey Marsh said. “They appeared to be unable to come through in the clutch, and some years I would feel those losses so intensely that I would ask why I continue to put myself through the excruciating torture year after year. It was almost like an uncontrollable disease, an illness, an addiction. Every spring, my hope would spring eternal, like the new buds on a rose bush. Most years, those hopes would be painfully dashed by September; a long, cold winter awaited.”<p>

The 2003 Red Sox had been within five outs of returning to their first World Series since that Mets debacle, but Pedro Martinez had stayed in the game too long and given up the lead. Boone had provided the latest heartbreaker, this one a walkoff home run that put the Yankees into the Fall Classic against the Florida Marlins and ruined yet another impossible dream. The closer you get, the more it hurts.<p>
“I had just moved back to New England — Maine, to be exact,” said Tom Hopkins, a retired Navy man. “My next-door neighbor was a Yankees fan. I had to listen to him screaming and yelling when Boone hit the home run to end the ALCS.”<p>
Hopkins is the story of so many people in Red Sox Nation. He grew up close enough to Fenway Park that he could almost hear the balls clank off the Monster, and his dad, Chet Hopkins, took him there to watch a boy’s favorite player, the great Yaz.<p>
“I was lucky enough to attend Game 6 of the 1975 World Series,” Tom Hopkins said. “It’s hard to believe how long ago that was. I was a sophomore in high school. I joined the U.S. Navy in 1978, and I was in boot camp in Orlando when the Yankees beat the Sox in that playoff game. I actually had to hear the news of the score and about Bucky Dent from a Yankee fan who was in my boot camp company.<p>
“I followed the Sox from wherever the Navy sent me. In 1986, I was stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., during the World Series against the Mets. I watched the sixth game of the Series while at an apartment belonging to a friend from New Hampshire. I remember thinking before the ninth inning started, ‘How come Dave Stapleton isn’t in the game?’ I actually didn’t see the Bill Buckner play live because I was upset over the wild pitch by Bob Stanley.”<p>
Hopkins retired to Norfolk, Va., in 2001, after a 20-year hitch in the Armed Forces and a longer Red Sox hitch than that. His father had passed away in 1985, and never was able to see a world champion. In 2002, Tom’s daughter Taylor was born 15 days after the Patriots won the Super Bowl. In December of 2003, his daughter Jenna was born. There were two new people in Red Sox Nation, and one could only imagine what it might be like to awaken into life as a Red Sox fan <I>who knew only world championship baseball</I>! It just wasn’t the way a culture of hopeful and hardy people had lived their lives. Who could even comprehend that?<p>

* * *

On Nov. 20, 2003, this post by someone named “No Guru No Method” was spotted over at the Sons of Sam Horn (SoSH) website:<p>

“Nope it still hurts. Going back to bed for another month.”<p>

And this one, six days later, by “Jneen”:<p>

“I finally got up enough courage to visit this thread for the very first time today. Know what? I didn’t cry. This is a big step. Things feel good right now.”<p>

The annual healing process was beginning.<p>

Hope was ahead.<p>

* * *

Only days before Jenna Hopkins entered Red Sox Nation, families of Red Sox fans gathered in their tradition for a Thanksgiving feast the way they had first done it in New England back in the days of Miles Standish. It was a time for repair, a time to share, a time to wipe away hurt and rejoice. A time to forget about that Yankee fan next door who was screaming and yelling and reminding you of your lot in life.<p>

Aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings and parents enjoyed food and repartee. Inevitably someone would bring up the latest tough end of a great baseball season, and for a fleeting moment a Sox fan longed to squeeze back into that Grandstand seat and peer out at hope between two fingers covering your face. Then the moment would be knocked away like a mitten swiping at a long icicle dangling from a soffet. It would be cold again and someone would mention another sport.<p>

Thanksgiving weekends were different in 2003, though. You could bring a laptop with you to your relatives’ house. Or you could jump on the PC in the den or basement office. At a little past 2 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving dinner, on Nov. 28, many Sox fans with no school or work to deal with that coming day jumped online the way they so often did and they went to redsox.com. It was a routine destination for many of them, some for years, some of them newbies. Within that official Red Sox team website was the Fan Forum, where message boards were constantly populated with fresh topics and fresh posts for each topic.<p>

It didn’t matter what time of year, what day of the week, or what time of the day. Other Sox fans were always there to commiserate, make friends with strangers, talk on- and off-topic, and occasional lob text missiles back and forth at a Yankee agitator. The posters were there from the Boston area, from Mississippi, from Seattle, from the other side of the world. It brought them together in a way nothing else could.<p>

Now there was a new post right on the top of the message board. It was a new name.<p>

It was an <I>unbelievable</I> name — with an unbelievable jersey number within the screenname itself.<p>

This is the unedited version of The Post that would come from a computer in Arizona and become the first of nearly 2,000 posts in a single and spectacular thread:<p>

<b>Subject: <a href=”http://www.forums.mlb.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=ml-redsox&msg=60047.1&maxT=3”>Will be hard to believe I am sure</a><br>
From: Curt38<br>
To: ALL</b><p>

First off to any and all members of the media I would ask that if you are here, that this information remain here. I am posting this for the fans of this site. I know there are no hard fast rules to this kind of thing but it would be greatly appreciated if this post and its content remained on this site alone. I had hoped to post to the SoSH (Sons of Sam Horn) site since its private, but that was not possible.<p>

I know it’ll be a stretch to believe this, but I am posting here for a few reasons. The main one is to squelch any and all of the stupid rumours that have surfaced since this whole ordeal began, and the second is to let you know where things stand. <br>
1) I have not and will not demand a guaranteed three year extension. <br>
2) I am not, have not, and will not be asking for a guaranteed contract of 15 million dollars per season <br>
3) The reported quote in which I stated I did not want to play in Boston was not a misquote, but I do think it was very easy to take out of context given the question asked at the time. The question was posed to me after a certain member of the national media and respected baseball person stated I have said that my preference WAS to play for the Red Sox. I was a bit miffed at this report since it was completely false and there was at no time anything that could be attributed to me saying anything of the sort. So I was asked about the Red Sox, and remember this was prior to Terry Francona’s being named the front runner for the Red Sox job, and I replied that Boston was not an option. The Red Sox were not an option for pretty much that very reason, there was no manager in place, and that to me was a significant issue. That situation obviously changed over the past few weeks and with that so did my opinion of possibly coming to Boston. Whether I get the chance to finish my career in Boston or not, if Terry does end up with the job I sincerely believe you will all (well not all since there is NO WAY to please this entire group:) be glad Mr Epstein made the decision he did. Terry is a man of strong values and integrity, and I can’t imagine any player having issues with him on the field or off. <br>
4) I am not going to offer any specifics on the ongoing discussions other than to tell you they are ongoing. Mr Epstein has been impressive at every turn of these talks. He obviously came very prepared and his preperation has been apparent every time we’ve met. <br>
5) I never, and let me emphasize that word, never, said I would take less to play for the Yankees than I would to play for the Red Sox, nor did I ever say it would cost the Red Sox more to sign me than the Yankees. I am not in this to start, or be a part of, a bidding war. As of right now, within this window of opportunity, I am doing what I can do to determine if the Boston Red Sox organization and I can come to an agreement in which I would be allowed to finish my career as a Red Sox. <br>
6) And yes, the one rumour that is true is that Mr Epstein and his assistant did have Thanksgiving dinner at our home. Shonda and I were a bit concerned, and impressed, that they would spend Thanksgiving away from their families, so we invited them on Wednesday night to have dinner with us on Thanksgiving, I am pretty sure they enjoyed the food. <br>
This will play itself out however it is supposed to. I honestly cannot tell you one way or the other if there will be an agreement at this point, alot of issues have been resolved, but some are still out there to potentially be resolved. I don’t believe either side has laid a ‘deal breaker’ on the table, but having said that there are still some issues in front of us that could preclude a deal getting completed. If this does not happen I can assure you that it will not be for lack of effort from either party. <br>
I can honestly say that the posts here have been pretty cool to read, like every other player in the big leagues it’s certainly nice to be wanted to this extent.<br>
I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving <br>
God Bless <br>
Curt Schilling<p>

One of the most feared right-handed pitchers in the game, Curt Schilling had led the Arizona Diamondbacks past those confounded Yankees in the 2001 World Series. He had started his professional career in the Red Sox organization, and now he was on the minds of many Sox fans because Boston was known to be making a run at him.<p>

Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox’s president/chief executive officer, traveled to Schilling’s Paradise Valley, Ariz., home along with senior vice president/general manager Theo Epstein to persuade Schilling to waive his no-trade clause, allowing the Diamondbacks to deal him to the Red Sox. Schilling had invited them to partake in a Thanksgiving feast with the family while they were there.<p>

So this post could be authentic. But how could it be? How many past Thanksgivings did a Sox fan go online and read a personal message from one of the best players in the game, attesting to his interest in your baseball team?<p>

It seemed like a cruel hoax, if anything. Maybe it was one of those Yankee “trolls” on the message boards, just trying to get a reaction.<p>

That is exactly how some fans at redsox.com initially reacted.<p>

The first post actually was deleted soon thereafter, because the moderator considered the content in violation of stated posting guidelines. I could not access the original reply, but am told by other longtime fans on the site that he had been one of the first people to believe it was really Schilling. Many others jumped all over this thread — wondering, hoping, doubting, and here below are a few of them. Again, it is senseless to “edit” a post that is copied here, so please apply the same accepted English and grammatical standards of a message board in this case:<p>

<b>From: themangokid<br>
To: Curt38<br>
11/28/2003 2:49 am</b><p>

hmm, I wonder…. <br>
Curt, if this is really you (and I believe it might be) we appreciate your comments and clarification on all the speculation. <br>
if it’s not you, YOU”RE A DEAD MAN , TROLL!!! ;-)<p>

<b>From: muellertektrot2<br>
To: Curt 38<br>
11/28/2003 2:56 am<p>

Yeah it seems hard to believe, but your post seems valid.😀 <br>
Hey Mr. Schilling(is it okay if I call you that?) welcome to the forum(lol…like you need an intro) You’ve convinced me enough to realize….wow this IS Curt Schilling<br>
Thank you for clearing that stuff up with us. It’s so cool that you given up your time to tell us your opinions. I would be thrilled on having you on the team. Believe me, Red Sox Nation would LOOOOVE to have you on the team. Heck, we never even expected this trade to even come as close as it is right now and even if you accept or not, I appreciate you sharing your insights and honesty on the issues to the best of your ability(since well it has be be rather hush-hush) <br>
Oh yeah with the SoSH site, I’m sure once they find out who you are, they’ll be more than happy to let you join🙂 Some of them are members of this forum and will probably pass the word over to them. <br>
Once again, I greatly appreciate you for taking time out of your schedule(shouldn’t you be in bed by now? lol…j/k) to inform us…oh god I’m repeating myself…. <br>
Anways I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving as well and um….I hope your givings were thanked….lol :)<p>

<b>From: pedrofan1<br>
To: 67wasbestuntil2004<br>
11/28/2003 3:20 am</b><p>

Is it him…is it not him? Once again the true nature of the Sox fan shines through, that of the skeptical believer :)<p>

That immediate reaction of “pedrofan1” and others — that of the “skeptical believer” — was indeed the true and time-honored trait of a born-and-bred member of Red Sox Nation. They always wanted to believe. But for no other reason than one’s self-preservation that always had to come with a hint of skepticism. After all, they had Emily Dickinson’s “sorest need.” Surely that is how those Chicago Cubs fans would have described themselves as well. It seemed like just the day before that people were bracing for a Red Sox-Cubs World Series that would be the end of the world as they knew it, and then both engines blew a gasket just five outs away.<p>

That’s just the way it always was. Why wouldn’t they be skeptical?<p>

Curt38? It couldn’t be. One of the game’s star players was complimenting them that their posts were “cool to read?” As user “emastery” put it at 3:28 a.m., the odds were “like 1/100000000000.” There was no need to worry about the commas to distinguish all those zeroes as an actual number; it was presumed to be up there with google.<p>

Or so it seemed. A wee-hour buzz began to build. Sox fans tried to contemplate the possibility. “Who knows,” “pedrofan1” replied to “emastery”, seeking a corroborator. “Like the thread title says, ‘Will be hard to believe.’ Not unheard of, though. I read where Carlos Beltran is an occasional visitor on the Royals board.”<p>

“emastery” shot right back: “The fact that he called ‘his’ wife by her name makes me suspicious.”<p>

Then came a true believer, a fan named Raymond . . . as if this were the Voice of Thanksgiving himself. His words were those of an immediately heartened Sox fan who had unconditional love to offer, devoid of any generational cynicism that normally bleeds into one’s faith. There was holiday hope in what he wrote, under the name of “reojr”:<p>

<b>From: reojr<br>
To: Curt38<br>
11/28/2003 3:31 am</b><p>

Mr. Schilling, Thank you for your post! Red Sox Nation would Love to have you back in the organization! You have always been a great pitcher to watch pitch! I can only wish you the best with whatever desicion that you make later on today. As a Red Sox fan (1st) and a baseball fan I can only say that the sport needs more people like yourself. You are truely a stand up gentalemen. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts in RSN for giving up of your time during this holiday week to consider the Red Sox. I wish you and your family the best threw out the holiday season. I believe you may be the key in Championships to come. (Hopefully with the Red Sox) Thank you very much for your time, and good luck in the future. Raymond<p>

Still, there was doubt. A “troll,” by definition, is one of those nettlesome computer users who thrive on agitating other people on a message board, typically ravaging a message thread with garbage until being evicted by the moderator and then often returning with a different screenname. A “troll” is living, breathing spam who can actually cut years off your life due to stress if you let it. No matter how many times a moderator kicks a troll out of the community, the troll frequently comes right back with a slightly different screenname, thrilled by causing another’s pain. Like the one there who goes by the name “urinalcake” or the other one named “benzenepoison.”<p>

The 16th message in the Schilling thread was another one that was subsequently deleted, typed by the same longtime poster known as “67wasbest” who had typed the first reply. Again, this person was certainly no less supportive of the team because he had a bunch of messages deleted. Certainly not a troll. Stuff happens; many posts are deleted for whatever reason moderators deem inappropriate to a family audience. In any case, his legacy on the Schilling thread is “Message Deleted.”<p>

I mention the 16th post, because it was right at that point that the creator of the message-board topic himself suddenly appeared again. Schilling was on the computer at his home in Arizona, watching these messages, and paying particular attention to that Sox fan who had doubted that the “real Curt Schilling” would have used his wife’s name in a message sent to people who were complete strangers. This newcomer typed:<p>

<b>From: Curt38<br>
To: emastery<br>
11/28/2003 3:37 am</b><p>

Not sure how to make you believe it’s me. I have two dogs, Patton is my Rottweiler, and Shonda and the kids (Gehrig 8, Gabriella 6, Grant 4, Garrison 18 months) bought me a puppy for my birthday, kids named him Rufus, not sure why, but it stuck. <br>
And btw, it’s Shonda🙂 <br>
Not Shanda, Shondra, Shandra<p>

Take that. It was like blowing an inside fastball past Albert Pujols.<p>

If you were a Sox fan who did not know about Patton or Rufus, then you probably saw the subsequent news hitting the media about Schilling’s Thanksgiving talks with the Red Sox and about Schilling’s interactive appeal to Red Sox Nation. It was a sign of the times. He had come to redsox.com to reach out, and to the SoSH site as well . . . wherever he felt he could make a connection to the people of Red Sox Nation.<p>

This really was Curt Schilling. And one person who was profoundly affected by a superstar showing up on a team site’s message board was Eva Badra, a Boston high school student. Because of him, she would become a regular on the site, and by the 2004 postseason, she would be writing an A-paper for her English teacher about what it means to see the Red Sox go to a World Series for the first time in your lifetime.<p>

“I found out about the redsox.com message board and started posting there when Schilling himself said at a press conference that he had posted there,” Eva said. “I was absolutely amazed that a pitcher of his caliber was taking time out of his own life to write and talk to the fans. It meant a great deal to me. I realized that Schill is a great guy and he is really willing to talk to the fans and get to know them. I’ve never seen another baseball player post on message boards. It made me feel that he really was a regular person and is able to connect to us fans. I didn’t know too well how message boards worked in the first place, so I decided I’d join and talk baseball with fellow fans and maybe get the chance to slip a ‘hello’ to Schill. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it was Schilling posting there, mainly because he said so publicly in the press conference. I also read his posts at SoSH (Sons of Sam Horn), but I cannot post there because it is very exclusive.”<p>

Indeed, this was not just someone on the message boards, but a professional athlete, and not just a professional athlete, but a marquee player, and not just a marquee player, but one who was seriously considering moving his game to Boston and helping the Sox to the promised land. This was cutting-edge in sports-and-media, in athlete-and-fan.<p>

This was a guy who had beaten the Yankees. And he was talking to <I>us</I>, so many Sox fans thought to themselves that day.<p>

The famous “Will be hard to believe I am sure” topic gradually would disappear from the first screen on the message boards as other people created new topics, and then it would be constantly bumped up to the top. It went on like this for some time, as Sox fan after Sox fan heard that Schilling had entered their online enclave. Even if he did not reply to them, they just wanted to add a message, their own greeting.<p>

It went on this way for the next year, and by Thanksgiving 2004, there would be close to 2,000 messages on the thread that Schilling had begun in the wee hours after a Thanksgiving feast. (He would add a few more before that next year’s turkey arrived.) Over the course of a year the thread became an homage to their original Web Warrior; people who joined the site for the first time often asked where they could find The Schilling Post. Adding one’s message became customary. The thanks went on a long time, and they couldn’t thank him enough in the immediate days after Thanksgiving.<p>

Red Sox Nation gave thanks when Schilling, in those days immediately after that original post to them, gave his personal blessing to a deal by waiving his no-trade clause. The Diamondbacks traded him to Boston, which had drafted him back in 1986, for Brandon Lyon, Casey Fossum and minor leaguers Michael Goss and Jorge De La Rosa. It would become perhaps the biggest trade in Red Sox history since, well, that day in January 1920 when Babe Ruth went to the Yankees for cash. To get this deal done — to perhaps help b bring a merciful end to that alleged “Curse of the Bambino” that has festered since that Ruth deal long ago — Schilling and the Red Sox worked out a two-year extension for a reported $25.5 million, which would carry through the 2006 season. It was step one, and there was more work to do by the Boston front office. But it was the best Thanksgiving imaginable in Red Sox Nation.<p>

“The Internet and <I>especially</I> message boards have had a name in the Boston news since Curt’s appearance,” said Chrissy Kinch, a regular poster at redsox.com under the name Crispy or Crispy0542. “So even if people aren’t posting, I think they would have heard of this phenomenon. And that’s what this is . . . a phenomenon. I can tell you that before I started posting I never once THOUGHT of going on message boards let alone chat rooms to talk to other people! I always thought that was dangerous and scary to do.  What brought me to the Red Sox board was, I saw this poll on the site homepage about Byung-Hyun Kim. Long story short, I never liked him and the question was about pitching and he was on there. I was getting angry so I decided to sign up and post about how much I wanted him out of Boston. I guess the rest is history!<P>

“These message boards are a phenomenon that pretty much stormed the Red Sox fanbase by surprise the same way the Red Sox stormed the Yankees and then swept the Cards for their first world championship in 86 years. Like Kevin Millar said, ‘We shocked the world,’ and the world was on the Red Sox message board with fans from Italy, Ireland, Australia, all other parts of Europe and Latin America. The Sox sure did shock the world — starting with Curt posting on our board!”<p>

It was hard to find a more thankful fan than Nick Kallfa. He was a high school student in Westfield, Mass., a Sox fan since 1998, and Schilling’s Thanksgiving 2003 post came at a special time for him. Nearly a year later, he would find himself just walking around Fenway Park in the days after the World Series was won, eating kielbasa the way he always did with his Dad at games — just wanting to be near the field.<p>

“The day that Schilling posted was November 28, 2003, and that was my birthday,” Kallfa said. “After that, I was keeping up with the Sox news and couldn’t stop checking for updates. I knew they were close to signing him. My friend and I heard rumors that the Sox had scheduled a press conference on the Red Sox forums so we waited a bit. We kept refreshing websites and finally Schilling’s face was there in a Red Sox hat and we celebrated. At the time, it was huge but after the way he carried this team when none of our starters were winning and after he pitched in Game 6 of the ALCS and Game 2 of the World Series, I can look back at the time when he posted to us at redsox.com and say that was the best birthday present I ever had.”<p>

Chapter 3: The Cold War

Scott and Kay Provencher represent Red Sox Nation in what she affectionately calls North Freakin’ Dakota. In the words of Kay, they are “East-Coasters living out here on the prairie,” but life is good anywhere if you are a Sox fan.<p>

Scott is a born-and-bred RSN citizen, a native of Lowell, Mass. Kay grew up in Pennsylvania as a Phillies fan, “a real baseball dork as a kid,” and she has always held onto a scrapbook she made during their 1980 championship season. She went to college, was transferred on a job in 1998 to Tewksbury, Mass., met and married Scott, “sort of lost touch with the Phils” and then there was no turning back.<p>

Sometimes Red Sox Nation doesn’t ask you to join. Sometimes it makes you join.<p>

They soon had a baby who began a speaking a language that sounded something like “NOMAHHHHH GAHHHCIAPARRAH.”<p>

“It was SO easy, as a baseball fan, to get ****** right into the magic of Red Sox Nation,” Kay said. “The <I>history</I>! That ballpark, their rivalry with the hated Yankees. Every year since then I got more and more into them and by 2003 it was official . . . I was a bigger fan than my husband!”<p>

In 2003, Kay made it official by having a Red Sox logo tattooed onto her right ankle. It was blood-red on the ankle, just like Schilling’s in the months that would follow. And it was just one of many Red Sox tattooes that would show up on female members of the Red Sox Fan Forum. She got her Varitek white jersey, the red alternate jersey, numerous T-shirts and a blue dugout jacket — about what you’d expect from someone who has gone by “varitekchick” in the Red Sox Fan Forum.<P>

They live on Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where Scott is stationed during active duty in the U.S. Air Force. “You’d be AMAZED at the number of Sox fans here on our base. It’s incredible,” Kay said. “My friends make fun of me when I’m not wearing something Red Soxy, but whenever I am out decked out in something of theirs, I always get several comments by fellow Sox fans. These are otal strangers to me, but we’re all members of the Nation, even here on Minot Air Force Base in North Freakin’ Dakota.<p>

“I truly do thank my lucky stars every day that Scott can’t be deployed. He works in nuclear missile maintenance and he <I>can’t</I> be deployed. All of our nukes are here. So he was able to watch most of the games with me. There were some nights when they worked late and he’d call me for the score, which I’d hear him relaying to his Sox buddies on the missile site! I really can’t imagine if he’d been over there and something had happened to him before seeing the Sox win.”<p>

Kay Provencher described the winter following Aaron Boone’s homer as a “longgggggg” one, and that’s seven G’s representing each game it took to prolong the 2003 misery. “I was <I>convinced</I> that 2003 was going to be their year,” she said. In the meantime, as the trade talk and signings swirled like the winds on her North Dakota prairie, Kay had another scrapbook going and this one was for her adopted Red Sox.<p>

It included a quote long ago from seven-time batting champ Rogers Hornsby:<p>

“They ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring!”<p>

First there was a Cold War to deal with. In the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, even the offseasons were fair game. It was a classic case of: Whatever you can do, I can do better. And it would last as long as everyone was staring out that window.<p>

<center>* * *</center><p>

On Dec. 3, 2003, Terry Francona took the managerial position that Grady Little had lost. Francona had been the Phillies’ manager when Schilling was his ace there, and now they would try to bring Boston its first world championship since 1918. One reason Schilling came to the Sox was his understanding that “Tito” would be a “slam-dunk” to come there as well.<p>

“The one thing you just die for is a chance to win,” said Francona, who was 285-363 in Philadelphia and never had won more than 77 games. “To have a chance to win and to be expected to win is what you play for, what you coach for.”<p>

The Sox still needed an elite closer to have an answer for Mariano Rivera down south, and 10 days later, they signed free agent Keith Foulke to a three-year contract with an option for 2007. “The one spot the Red Sox could never match the Yankees is at closer,” Nick Cafardo wrote in the <I>Boston Globe</I>, and he added that it was “the one move that might shift the balance of power Boston’s way.”<p>

For those who have lived and breathed Red Sox, it was still hard to imagine Foulke standing on a mound and flipping a ball to a first baseman for a World Series title.<p>

It was all about the offseason front-office volleying at this point. The Yanks had brought in Gary Sheffield, Flash Gordon, Kenny Lofton, seemingly the kitchen sink. The Sox had made their moves. Now the biggest moves of all were for the same player, Alex Rodriguez, generally considered the best player in the business. It was the move that didn’t happen for Boston — Manny Ramirez to Texas for A-Rod, with Nomar going somewhere, a deal that was all but done but quashed at the last minute. It was the move that did happen for the Yankees — Alfonso Soriano going to Texas and A-Rod taking over at third in the Bronx.<p>

After the Yankees pulled that apparent coup right before Spring Training, MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman wrote that “New England is in mourning over the Yanks cruelly upstaging the Boston Red Sox.” One of those fans in New England, Nick Hanlon, wrote this in an article at the time for MLB.com: <p>

“For the first time in about a month I woke up and walked outside without icicles forming under my nose. The weather was warm, for a New England winter. Hopes were high and spring was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. As nature lulled Red Sox Nation into a false sense of security, the snowball hit us square in the face. The kind of snowball with ice purposely added to the center to add that burning sensation. The kind of snowball that is purposely thrown at the head, causing you to stumble back bewildered and in pain. But most of all, the kind of snowball that would make you do anything in your power to reply with the biggest whitewash in history.<p>

“I was caught off-guard and in a state of disbelief when the story of A-Rod going to New York first broke; however, when I calmed down, I began to take a different view on this trade, one that I hope and pray is true. The trade of Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees will only do one thing to the Red Sox: Give our guys more incentive to work hard, put in the extra time, and especially to WIN!”<p>

They were calling it the Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2004. But as he drove in his car through Florida on his way to Fort Myers to set up camp, Francona told MLB.com’s Ian Brown that the A-Rod deal did not diminish his hopes.<p>

“I’m so excited about our ballclub, and that has not diminished in the least. It’s not like I’m going to turn around and head back north,” <b><a href=”http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/bos/news/bos_news.jsp?ymd=20040216&content_id=637564&vkey=news_bos&fext=.jsp”>Francona said on his phone in the car</a></b>. “There are a lot of teams out there. My concern is how we play baseball. I’m so comfortable with our ballclub. I’ll spend my energy getting our ballclub to play the way they’re supposed to. I’m so excited about this team. We’ll concern ourselves with our ballclub. If we get out there and play the way we’re supposed to, we’ll be just fine.”<p>

<center>* * *</center><p>

On March 5, 2004, Fred Hale Sr. officially became the oldest man in the world at the age of 113. The Guinness Book of World Records had named him the world’s oldest license driver in 1995 at age 107, and now, with the passing of 114-year-old Joan Riudavets Moll of Spain, Hale had a greater distinction.<p>

Of course, that also made him the oldest member of Red Sox Nation.<p>

Hale was born in New Sharon, Maine, on Dec. 1, 1890. He moved to South Portland in 1921, the year after Babe Ruth was moved to the Yankees. He was 27 in 1918 when the Red Sox had last won the world championship, and although he had not grown up a hardcore Sox fan, he became one in the later years of his life through a marriage to a Sox fan. It became as much a nectar in his life as the very honey that he would eat every day, because honey, he thought, kept him young.<p>

Many people, Hale included, wondered if he would ever see the Sox win it all in his lifetime. That, like his honey, would be the sweetest thing.<p>

He would. Then he would die a few weeks later. Someone else would accept the mantle of oldest man on Earth. Someone else would be the oldest Sox fan.<p>

But in the meantime, Hale would follow the Sox with rapt attention as they reported to another Spring Training in Florida, and he would settle in for another season and watch from his nursing home in Syracuse and hope for the best again.<p>

<center>* * *</center><p>

Chris Mirante, 27, represents Red Sox Nation in the state of Mississippi. He grew up in Boston and now is a school music teacher near the Tennessee border. He married a local girl named Catherine, turned her into a Sox fan, and they have a son named Luke who was due to turn 2 in January. Chris later would drive to a World Series, but for now the car was pointed toward Florida for his first Spring Training.<p>

“It’s something I have always wanted to do but never had the time or resources to do,” Mirante said. “I went with two of my best friends from high school — Natick High School, home of Doug Flutie. One of them, Matt, is also Sox fan who transplanted to the South, in Arkansas, and the other, Paul, is in Syracuse. Matt and I drove to Ft. Myers where we met up with Paul, who flew in. Needless to say it was a great time. We got to see three games, including the St. Patty’s Day game with the green jerseys. Schilling pitched that day, which made it even cooler that we drove all night to get to the airport in time to get Paul and then went straight to the game.”<p>

As is always the case with Spring Training, some of the best moments are those when fans have the chance to more freely interact with players in occasional relaxed moments. The best example, Mirante said, was when they met reliever Alan Embree one night at a local karaoke bar. Here is how Mirante described the evening:<p>

“Alan did not sing! First of all, he came in wearing one of those Ted WIlliams hats, with just the number 9 on the front, resembling his retired number at Fenway. We talked a lot about last year and how Alan felt about Grady sticking with Pedro. All he said to that was, ‘If Scott (Williamson), Mike (Timlin), and I got into the game, we were going to the World Series.’ He talked about how pumped he was about having Keith Foulke there now. He was like, ‘This guy it <I>the</I> man!'<P>

“The funniest thing, though, was when this really hot girl came up to him and said, ‘Hey are you a baseball player?’ He said, ‘Yes.'<P>

“She said, ‘Are you any good?’ And he said, ‘No . . . I ****!’ It was hilarious — she just walked away. Very late that night — actually early the next morning — he informed us that he had better go since he had to pitch an inning the next day. We were like, ‘You’re pitching tomorrow? We are gonna roast you if you give up any runs!'<P>

The next day before the game, he saw us in the stands and waved and we all had a good laugh about the previous night. Needless to say, he didn’t even give up a hit! We had great conversations with him, and in general Spring Training is just an amazing experience that we hope to make an annual event.”<p>

<center>* * *</center

March 7 was the mother of all Spring Training exhibition games. Special “March 7” pins were even sold. It was Yankees vs. Red Sox in Fort Myers. Tickets were scalped at October prices; you could find a pair on eBay for $499. It did not matter who won this one. It was simply about being there, about being part of a rivalry at probably its hottest temperature ever.<p>

Dean Anderson traveled there from Newton, Mass. I found him outside of City of Palms Park, sitting in a folding chair, still trying to find a ticket. Many people had camped out overnight, just for a spring game. “It’s amazing, for an exhibition game,” he said. “But that’s what this rivalry has come to,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be an unbelievable rivalry all year.”<p>

Fans booed loudly when A-Rod strode to the plate in the first inning. He grounded to shortstop on his first pitch.<p>

“He had to get that first swing off his back, I’m sure,” Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. “He was a little more aggressive than he usually is.”<p>

Aggressive? Oh, yeah. Tek and A-Rod would show you what “aggressive” means; the date would be July 24. This was just the introductory affair, a media circus where Sox and Yankee players shake hands and are somehow cordial. That annual offseason cordiality would go away fast.<p>

Chapter 4: Opening Day

Boswell once wrote that life begins on Opening Day. Sadly, sometimes it also ends on Opening Day, and life goes on instead.<p>

On April 4, 2004, the Red Sox were playing their first game of The Season at Baltimore in the annual ESPN Sunday night opener. That same day, Joanne Meirovitz of Boston lost a great fellow Sox fan — her mother, 77-year-old Barbara Meirovitz — to lung cancer.<p>

“We had all planned to watch the Opening Day game in the hospital with her that day and the season was anything but trivial to her,” Joanne said. “Throughout her illness she looked forward to every game; they really kept her going. The Red Sox were a major part of her life.”<p>

Those words came in an email I received from Joanne not long after the Rolling Rally. As word was traveling through the Nation that I was writing this e-book, she said she hoped I would “include a section about Sox fans who are children of Sox fans.”<p>

That’d be most of them.<p>

Joanne Meirovitz is a self-employed illustrator, designer and website creator, and proprietor of JM Design Inc. She worked at Lotus Development Corp. in Cambridge for 10 years and then went out on her own at the end of 1999. She also paints in her free time, a love handed to her from Mom just like the Red Sox.<p>

Joanne’s story about her own rite of passage is similar to so many others in Red Sox Nation. It is a tradition that is carried on from one life to another — and an important part of life at that. Throughout the course of a year, I hear from so many fans at MLB.com and the 30 club sites who say baseball has provided a family bond that allows for communication in other facets of life. I vividly remember my own father teaching me how to keep score of games as we sat in an old brick minor league pantheon in the Midwest, with a freight train rumbling beyond the outfield wall and a father and son able to talk about any subject in the best possible setting. These are the loving times that galvanize family members, and Joanne’s story was one of those vivid examples:<p>

“We actually found out my Mom had cancer in 1997. During a routine dental checkup the hygienist noticed a lump that ended up being cancerous. While preparing for the operation to remove it they took chest x-rays and found some spots on her lungs. In August of that year she had an operation to remove a small section from one lung. Check-ups after that still showed a few small spots but they remained dormant until a few years ago – they started growing. She went through several different treatments but nothing helped and the cancer continued to grow and she got weaker.<P>

“I have always been very close to my Mom. She had a great sense of humor and I got my artistic talent from her — she was a wonderful painter. We traveled 3 times to Italy and a couple of times to England together. We talked on the phone several times a week and I visited often. (I live in Boston; my parents’ house is in Newton). We would do a lot together, including going to Red Sox games. During her last year I visited her almost every other day and would often give up weekend trips because my Dad said she did better when I was around. I think it also helped him cope.<p>

“But the one thing that really kept her spirits up during her illness was watching every Red Sox game with my Dad and listening to the Sports Radio talk shows daily. She knew everything about every player.”<p>

Barbara had come from England and learned much about the game from her husband, Manuel, now 83. When he was a boy growing up in Dorchester, Mass. — he was “10 or 11,” as Joanne passes down the legend so sweetly — he went with a friend to a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader. After the game, they went to the area outside the visiting team’s clubhouse. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig came out, and Manuel Meirovitz said: “Hi Lou. Hi Babe”. “Lou didn’t answer,” Joanne says, “but Babe said, ‘Hi, keed,’ to him. He said it was the crowning glory of his youth.”<p>

And now, many years later and after doing his part to grow Red Sox Nation, Manuel was there with Barbara, hoping they could experience that elusive world championship together one day.<p>

“Because of her illness we only made it to one Red Sox game (in 2003), and at that game she bought herself a blue Red Sox cap,” Joanne said. “She told me the Red Sox were a big part of her life, and when the 2003 season ended she was so sad and looked forward to April when they would be playing again. That winter, her condition took a turn for the worse.<p>

“For the 2004 season, my close friend Ann Laurens made an agreement with a work colleague who has been a season ticket owner for many years to split the season with us. Weekday tickets were in Grandstand section 9, and we would get two tickets every other game. I told my Mom if she felt strong enough and when the weather got warmer I would bring her to a game. Unfortunately, that never happened.<p>

“On April 1, she was returning from a doctor’s appointment with my Dad. While in the driveway her legs gave out and she couldn’t get up. The ambulance took her to the hospital where they found out she had broken her hip and would need an operation. The operation the next day was successful but she got fluid in her lungs and because of the cancer she had problems breathing without using an oxygen mask.<p>

“There are three kids in my family, an older brother who lives in Needham and a younger sister who lives in Nyack, New York. We called my sister, told her Mom isn’t doing so well and she should come and visit. On Sunday, April 4th, my sister arrived and we were all at the hospital. My Mom was excited about it being Opening Day and she could finally watch her beloved Red Sox again. She wasn’t feeling well but was very alert and her usual funny self. She hated the oxygen mask and kept pulling it off.<p>

“My dad talked to one of her doctors privately and was told there really wasn’t anything they could do at this point because the cancer was so advanced, and the best thing would be to make Mom as comfortable as possible. He was told she probably would be gone in a week. Devastated, he called my brother, sister and I into a side room and told us the news. We were all upset and cried together. At the same time, my Mom’s favorite doctor came to see her and she asked him if she was going to die this week. He said something like, ‘There’s a good chance of it.'<p>

“She loved this doctor, also a big Red Sox fan, and felt very comfortable with him and appreciated his honesty. He then came to talk to us and called Mom a wonderful personality trapped in this terrible body.<p>

“The family went back into Mom’s hospital room and we all sat around and talked. Around 3 that afternoon she got a funny look on her face and I knew immediately something was wrong. I went to get a nurse and when I got back Mom called out my name. I went beside her and held h


Hey Mark, nice work on this. Thanks for sharing and preserving memory of a great time to be a Red Sox fan and a participant at RSFF.

Geoff (boodasbud)

Thanks, Mark. This is such a great read and it’s so cool to read about so many of the great people from the RSFF that I’ve had the pleasure to meet in the last few years!

I can’t wait for ’07 to start!

~Kay (“Varitekchick”)

Hi, Mark! You poor, poor soul – living amongst the enemy. ; ) I have the book on my desktop but had not read it in a while and was just googling for the sake of googling and found this. My daughter, Hannah, asked me to read some of the book to her a few moments ago and I glanced back at her to see tears streaming down her face. It’s a tough season for the Red Sox this year, but I feel just like I did in 2004. G-d, I love this team. Chaiah (ToofarawayfromBoston)

This is great, Mark! Loved it the first time I read it and still love it. It also brings back a lot of good memories. Thanks for posting it!

“Mrs Beasley”

Thank you so so so much for posting this. I used to frequent the RSFF many times a day. I remember that day when Schill posted, remember the people who attacked him and quizzed him on his own dogs name to make sure it was him, know Crispy, was in correspondance with Chaiah. I used to have this on my old Dell, but it crashed and I was unable to retrieve the document. I had never printed it because it took up too many pages, and I cursed myself often for that because in the offseason, I would read this and not feel so deprived of my boys. Now is probably as good a time as ever to read this. Thanks again, more than you know.



I guess this sheds some light on why the server was down for a few minutes this morning😉

Cant dive into it right now, but will enjoy doing so later!


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