From Caribou, Maine, to somewhere south of Hartford, there’s only one big-league ball team for New England … but a wide assortment of characters who love them. They call themselves Red Sox Nation.
The Numbers Nerd
A born statistician, this fan has his own hand-written notes on every game going back to the 1960s. Awakened from a sound sleep, he can tell you in which year the Sox had their worst win/loss record (1932), who the team’s top player was in 1952 (Billy Goodman), and how many home runs Carl Yastrzemski hit in 1967 (44). He cannot, however, remember his wedding anniversary, the name of his wife’s best friend, or that he was supposed to bring home toilet paper.
The Pink Hat
A recent immigrant to the Nation, the newbie can be heard asking questions such as “Why is it a strike if they don’t actually hit the ball?” Unaware that Babe Ruth is anything besides a candy bar, newbies tend to be more interested in each other than anything happening on the field. They can usually be seen talking on their cell phones while waving madly at the camera. Don’t bother asking them the score.
A fan since the Wilson administration, this diehard resents the newbies who jumped on the bandwagon after the 2004 World Series, because “they don’t know what we went through!” He hates the electronic scoreboard and the pink hats, and don’t get him started about “Sweet Caroline.” Descended from a long line of Puritans, he’s really happy only when miserable and believes that hardship builds character. Following the euphoria of the 2013 World Series victory, he went into a funk for several weeks.
The Superstitious Ritualist
Batting, pitching, and fielding are all well and good, but this once-slender devotee is convinced that the Red Sox’ fortunes depend on his sitting in the same seat and eating chocolate doughnuts, as he was when Carlton Fisk waved the ball into fair territory in the 1975 Series. Thanks to him, the Sox have since broken the curse and won three World Series. Of course, he now weighs as much as two Big Papis.
The Cliff Clavin of fans, this guy knows an astonishing mass of obscure facts and history about the Sox, including the team’s early nicknames (Boston Americans, Plymouth Rocks, Pilgrims, Beaneaters), which players’ numbers have been retired (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 27, 42), the original seating capacity of Fenway Park (35,000), and the year the Coke bottles were added over the Green Monster (1997, the last year he had a date willing to go out with him more than once).
The Old Acquaintance
This guy was on the Charlestown, New Hampshire, high-school ball team with Carlton Fisk, a fact that he works into every conversation, including those with checkout cashiers, wrong-number callers,
and random strangers on the street. He doesn’t mention that he spent his entire high-school career
in the dugout, and Fisk wouldn’t know him from Miley Cyrus.
The Eternally Happy Fan
A lifelong fan, he supported the Olde Towne team through heartaches, bad trades, and Cinderella seasons. Sadly, he went to his reward before the curse was broken. But these days, somewhere in heaven, this dearly departed Red Sox rooter is truly and finally resting in peace.
The Backseat Coach
Drawing on his vast experience as a onetime power hitter for the Milton Spindlewort Junior High ball team, this fan knows better than any of the Red Sox players, owners, or managers exactly what the team needs, and is frankly surprised that they haven’t called to seek his advice. From pitch calls to player contracts to pending surgeries, he’s got the inside scoop, which he’ll gladly share with anyone who doesn’t see him coming first.
The Long-Distance Fan
At 92 years of age, this grandma has been a Red Sox fan all her life, although she’s never been to an actual game. To her, Fenway Park is the Jerusalem Temple, the Vatican, and Mecca all rolled into one. Her kids have offered to take her on a pilgrimage to Fenway, but when she found out what tickets cost, she asked for a new washing machine instead.
The Young and the Innocent
This kid simply loves the game. Unfazed by clubhouse scandals, bad calls, and lousy management decisions, he’d wear his Red Sox jersey 24/7 if his mother would let him. He sleeps with his baseball mitt, which he got from his late grandfather. And though he’s not sure what heaven looks like, he’s pretty sure he caught a glimpse of it the first time he came through the tunnel and saw Fenway Park.