In Giamatti’s Take Time For Paradise, Giamatti says it best when he states, “if there is a truly religious quality to sport, then, it lies first in the intensity of devotion brought by the true believer, or fan.”
I was four years old when I went to my first Red Sox game and sat front row behind first base. I remember the ball boy (the person that picks up the foul balls and tosses them to the fans) gave me a baseball that had been fouled that game and from that moment on I was hooked. Now me being a Red Sox fan I was well aware of the Red Sox Yankees rivalry. The story goes that in 1919 the Red Sox owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, which was followed by an 86-year period where the Red Sox did not win a World Series, also known as the “Curse of the Bambino.” Despite this curse, throughout elementary school I would go to Red Sox games constantly, even on school nights. I was in third grade when I watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the ALC Championship series and then go on to break the curse and win the World Series. My family’s Christmas card that year was all of my siblings and I wearing Red Sox jerseys.
Now I will give you a brief overview of what occurred during the 2004 American League Championship Series. The Red Sox were down the first three games of the series against the Yankees. In Game Four the Red Sox won the game in the bottom of the 12th inning on a home run by David Ortiz. In Game Five the Red Sox made yet another comeback when Ortiz drove Johnny Damon in from second and they won the game in the 14th inning. In Game Six Curt Shilling pitched through his injury producing his historical “bloody sock” and the Red Sox won 4-2. And lastly Game Seven was a blowout and the Red Sox won 10-3. Let me say this, no team has ever won a best of seven series after being down three games to none. The Red Sox defeated these odds and made its fans across the world experience these extraordinary moments that you as a sports fan can only hope to be a part of and feel.
In Giamatti’s Take Time For Paradise, he talks about how complete human happiness “does not last a whole life span, as Aristotle says it should last; it lasts mere moments. But it is no less authentic for that. The memory of that moment is deep enough to send us all out again and again, to reenact the ceremony, made of all the minor ceremonies to which spectator and player devote themselves, in the hopes that the moment will be summoned again and made again palpable.” There were so many of these moments when the Red Sox came back to beat the Yankees in 2004. Moments where you along with countless other fans were cheering, gripping, yelling, holding, jumping, and smiling. Moments where you couldn’t believe what was happening… moments that didn’t feel real. And it was these moments that made you and still make you want to come back and watch each game to experience it all over again.
Ultimately as a Red Sox fan and a fan of sports in general I agree with Giamatti when he explains how sports allow a person to experience pleasure and happiness in life. The rituals we make as sports fans are important in that they allow us to connect with other people and be a part of something. When we are a part of something like the Red Sox beating the Yankees in 2004, we experience moments that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. Lastly, Giamatti explains that in these moments, we are “pulled to our feet, we are pulled out of ourselves. We feel what we saw, become what we perceived.”