Corey’s Corner: Five-year-old boys and baseball
#31 John Lester prepares for a throw during the World Series game this year. President Barry Corey reminisces about life, family, and baseball, including memories made at Fenway Park. | The Washington Post/CREATIVE COMMONS
“The path to understanding Calvinism in America begins at Fenway Park.”
David Halberstam in “Summer of '49”
Sometimes we miss great moments in life. That happened to me last week as I boarded a plane from Chicago to Los Angeles during game six of the World Series. You might know I’m from Boston and have cheered for the more-often-than-not hapless Sox for my entire life. But last week I was flying on United while Boston was flying high united. It wasn’t the first time a crucial Sox game happened without me as a witness. And so I write this Chimes column as a catharsis, deeply anguished that I missed another moment of baseball history.
You see, I was born into a preacher’s home in 1961, 11 months into John Kennedy’s presidency, in a blue-collar city just south of Boston called Quincy. Unbeknownst to me, nine miles from this parsonage was a ballpark called Fenway. I didn’t know that 70 or so times each summer the faithful would walk through the gates of that park, then a half century old, to cheer for a team called Red Sox. As far as my family and I were concerned, the ballpark in the Fens could have just as well been in the mission field of Burundi. We had no television. My father was a Canadian, new to Boston and uninterested in professional sports — even hockey, eh? April to October for us meant the months between Easter and our fall revival services.
I was a five-year-old when, on Oct. 12, 1967, neatly dressed fans filled each of those 35,188 wooden seats at Fenway Park for game seven of that Series. While our family was being about the Father’s business, the final game was being played in Fenway Park between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox. The Cardinals won, crushing the hopes of Red Sox Nation like so many times since 1918.
So it was late in the evening of Oct. 27, 2004 that I awoke my five-year-old son — as well as our older children Ella and Anders — at eleven o’clock to watch the final 37 minutes of a World Series game-of-the-ages between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Groggily, he followed each out until Keith Foulke fielded Edgar Renteria’s grounder and carefully tossed it into the glove of Doug Mientkiewicz to end the Sox’s World Series drought that began a few weeks before Billy Graham was born.
Since then the Red Sox have won two more World Series. As what we perceived as a gift to our family, they won in 2007 just a few months after we arrived at Biola from Boston. And they won last week, this unlikely and scrappy team of free agents and franchise players. Last week at 35,000 feet, I sat in a plane wondering if this would be the night that the team from Boston would do what they had not done since 1918: win a World Series at home, the shrine of Fenway charged with baseball fever. And like they did in 2004, the Red Sox prevailed in America’s classic Series, winning with gloves like flypaper and bats like lightning and beards like Moses.
I know that Biola is tilted toward fans cheering on teams named Angels and Dodgers and Padres and Giants. But thank you for letting me gloat and vent, all in one column. Sometimes we miss great instances. But you move on hoping not to miss defining moments in life.