BOSTON (CBS) – I didn’t taste my first beer at Fenway Park, nor is it where I had my first kiss.
I didn’t meet my wife there either, though we’ve seen a number of games together since.
Those milestones aside, growing up outside of Boston a die-hard Red Sox fan, I have a million memories of picturesque nights and sunny afternoons at Fenway. Chilly days and rain delays, too.
I remember being in the stands back in 1995, well behind the Sox dugout as the team enjoyed a late-September win over Milwaukee to clinch the American League East crown, a division won with just 86 victories.
And who could forget Mo’s ride on a police horse? To this day, that ballclub is my favorite of all-time.
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I remember the summer after my junior year of high school, when a NESN producer took a chance on a 16-year-old kid just eager to be around the Red Sox every day, and gave him an internship.
One of the best summers of my life.
I used to get there early every single day, merely to spend some time sitting in the stands before anyone was around. It was peaceful and majestic.
Once, when I was out there watching batting practice, my favorite player – John Valentin – tossed me a ball after he was done taking cuts on a tee.
I still have it.
On the field – wow – Pedro’s first of back- to-back Cy Young’s, Nomar’s 3-homer, 10-RBI game against Seattle, the heroics of some nobody named Brian Daubach. And on and on…
One of my most lasting Fenway memories, though, is of a game I wasn’t at… but I had tickets.
Some of you may remember May 13, 2007 as the date of the “Mother’s Day Miracle,” when Boston rallied for six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to edge Baltimore 6-5.
I was supposed to go to that game with my uncle, Arnie. We’d never done a whole lot together, so we were pretty excited for the game.
Who in his right mind isn’t excited for an afternoon at the Fens?
But, we were particularly looking forward to it as a stress release because my nana was in the hospital.
Some woman, I tell ya, and one of the biggest Red Sox fans I’ve ever met. Night in and night out, when they were on TV, she was watching. If I called to say hello, she’d ask me to hold on during a big at-bat, or tell me to call back between innings.
When she was admitted to Mass. General, I’d sit by her bed and we’d watch the Sox. Sharp as an axe with a memory in her late-80’s that embarrasses my 30-year-old mind, and boy did she know those players. My uncle and I planned on shooting over to the hospital before heading to the game but, around 4 that morning, she passed. Congestive heart failure.
Later in the day, the family gathered at my parents’ house and, in the living room, sat to share stories, eat and watch the Sox take on the O’s. A few hours later as Boston rallied its last at-bats, I remember I kept saying in my head, “C’mon, boys, do it for nana. She’s up there watching.”
Then, with two outs, Julio Lugo was up.
He’d grounded out to start the inning. Four runs had come to the plate since. Lugo hit another ground ball. Should’ve been it, but the pitcher, Chris Ray, dropped the toss at first from old friend Kevin Millar, and Jason Varitek and Eric Hinske scored.
People, the truly spiritual ones, might say my nana played a role in the outcome at Fenway that afternoon.
I don’t know.
I do know, though, that somewhere she was rooting the Sox on.
It wouldn’t have been Mother’s Day without her.
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.