Living with Bosox Nation fever
Off the record
Breaking the mold - Former art department chairman Richard Akers poses with his self-portrait, In the Woods, in the Eddie Rhodes Gallery on Sept. 3. Akers is currently serving as Academic Senate president. (Sam Attal / The Advocate)
One of the abundance of my life's blessings is the daily privilege of choosing to be a lifetime Bosox fan - aka Red Sox fanatic.
You know why? Because we're like sex, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, horse manure, illegal drugs and the Jehovah's Witnesses. We're all over the world.
I'm never surprised when or where I encounter members of my Bosox family. Thirty years ago I bought three prime box seats in the 10th row behind the Red Sox dugout for the A's-Sox game at the Oakland Coliseum.
This was a special occasion for my nephews, Perry and Cyrano Jones, who were visiting from Hartford, Conn. They had never been to a Bosox game. And guess who we sat behind? Eight loud, rabid, pennant-waving Bosox Nation nuns from Brockton, Mass.
Perry said, "I didn't know nuns could go to baseball games." My rapid reply was, "Well, now you know cuz this is Bosox Nation territory."
Today is the first day of 2014 Bosox spring training camp. So, I put on my Boston-blue T-shirt with the 2-inch high white print "YANKEES SUCK" logo on the front.
The #51 bus transports me east on University Avenue to complete my research at the University of California School of Public Health Library in Berkeley. A 6 foot tall, muscular Asian male in the early 20-age range boarded the bus and sat across from me. He was wearing khaki jeans, a dark blue baseball cap with a yellow script Cal logo and a bright red T-shirt with a Boston-blue 2-inch high "WICKED SMAHT" logo on the chest.
I smiled at him and hollered, "Bosox Nation, right?" He returned the smile and answered, "There are only two kinds of people in this world. Us and those who wish they were privileged to be us." He was wicked smaht and a Cal grad student to boot.
We shared a ceremonious tap of our right hand knuckles. I documented my Bosox history starting with, "I'm cradle to grave Fenway Fanatic."
I still enjoy the reverie of listening to the Red Sox games while sitting on my grandpa's lap before dozing off. I contracted Bosox Fever from B.F. (my grandpa's full name was Benjamin Franklin Crosby) while growing up in the white three-story house on Brown Street in the south end of Hartford.
One of my most excruciating experiences as a suffering Red Sox survivor was listening to the one-game American League play off at Fenway Park on Monday, Oct. 4, 1948. "Marse" Joe McCarthy started Denny Galehouse and our ass was in the outhouse from his first feeble pitch till the last out. Lefty Gene Bearden and his Cleveland Indians barbecued our Boston butt 8-3.
After the game B.F. informed me, "The curse of the Bambino still lives in Fenway, sonny-boy." I never asked him if the Bambino was that Italian family that moved in down the street three years earlier. I could swear that cute, brown-haired girl told me her name was Lisa Gambino - not Bambino.
This unfortunate event occurred two years after we lost the 1946 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh game on the "mad dash" by Enos Slaughter, aka "Country."
Those damn carnivorous Cardinals ate our "Impossible Dream" again in the seventh game of the 1967 World Series. Jim Lonborg started for us with only two days rest. Bob Gibson, a future Hall of Fame inductee, dominated the finale giving up only three hits and fanning 10 batters to seal a 7-2 victory.
Nineteen years later, Bill Buckner let the World Series roll between his bow-legs at first base and handed the 1986 winners trophy to the New York Mets. And another visit to "Heartbreak Hotel" was made by the Red Sox faithful.
As far back as 1970 I honestly did not believe we would ever play in, or win, a World Series during my lifetime. Jimmy Pitchell, my high school classmate at Bulkeley and Bosox Nation member, shared the same opinion. A majority of Red Sox fans in New England secretly shared the same deep-seated negativity.
The Bosox had not won the World Series since 1918. My grandpa vividly remembered that one. "We sold Babe Ruth right after we won the Series and that's when the 'Curse of the Bambino' was born," he painfully said with a sigh.
Our World Series victory in 2004 was actually the Bosox's sixth World Championship, but the first one since 1918. The day after the 2004 Series, my Hartford Homie, Michael Fontanello, and I danced the tarantella, hugged, screamed and cried in public on the street in the Financial District of San Francisco. He's a Bosox Nation lifer, born and bred in Hartford, like me.
The folks scurrying up and down Montgomery Street didn't think it was unusual to see two 50-plus old dudes doing "the crazy cha-cha" in Baghdad by the Bay.
They had no idea we were acting out and celebrating the dream we had never dared to dream. Last week I called Michael to discuss meeting to see our World Champion Bosox during their 2014 visit to play the A's in Oakland. We're definitely going to be there.
"Now that we have won three World Series in the last 10 years all those rude, loud-mouth Yankee yahoos can just swear at us while they suck, shake their empty heads and stick 'em where the sun don't shine," Michael said. My answer was, "Tell our truth, my brother."
Today is Thursday, March 20, 2014. It is now noon on the first day of spring. I'm standing in a four-person line at the Cooperative Center Credit Union in South Central Berkeley. This is my financial operation station.
A late 40ish, relaxed, 5 foot 6 Caucasian cat with a brownish-gray Van Dyke beard, red and white cane and canine companion eased in line behind me. I noticed he's wearing a blue Bosox cap with the two red socks on the front. I am African-American. I asked him, "Are you a member of the Bosox Nation, bro?" He grinned and said, "You got that right, bro."
"How long have you been a member?" he asked. I answered, "Since I was born in Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. on Feb. 3, 1935. That's 79 years and if I die tomorrow I'll have a smile and be completely content because I lived to see our Bosox win three World Series."
My erratic path moved me six miles south to the VA Health Services Center in Oakland. My skilled doctor, Alix Magloire, advised me, "The pathology results from your cyst I sent reported it was only scar tissue."
"I could have told you that, Doc," I replied.
"How would you have access to that information?" he asked.
"Because I'm a charter member of the Bosox Nation. We're 95 percent scar tissue. The other 5 percent is undiagnosed psychosis.
"Another fact I learned having done medical research worldwide is there is no known antidote or cure for Bosox fever. Let's keep it that way. Thank you very much Doc. I'm outta here. Go Sox go."
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