They took the old lady to a Red Sox game. She was able to walk on her own, mostly, but only with support. They got her through the gates. Through the metal detectors. She was sickly, but they made it work.

They placed her into the seat. They were seated in the nosebleeds because that’s where her mother wanted to be. That’s sort of where she grew up.

The old woman remembered seeing games from long ago, seated in this very section. At the iconic American field, on Jersey Street, located near Kenmore Square. Here, she saw Ted Williams hit. She saw Johnny Pesky, Earl Johnson, Billy Goodman, Tom Sturdivant, Pumpsie Green. All the greats.

Fenway is America’s oldest Major League stadium. Since 1912, this ballpark has been the home of the Olde Towne Team.

The old woman remembers coming here when she was a girl. With her father. Back then, the place smelled heavily of parched peanuts and cigar smoke.

Fenway Park. With all its quirks. There’s the Big Green Monster. A 37-foot green wall, originally erected in 1914 to keep cheapskates from watching the game.

There is the solitary red seat (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21), where Ted Williams once hit a 502-foot home run on June 9, 1946. Still the longest home run in Fenway Park history.

There is the Fisk Foul Pole, named after Carlton Fisk. In Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, Fisk hit a game-winning home run that stayed fair and ricocheted off the pole. Sox lost the series to Cincinnati.

There’s Duffy’s Cliff. Named for left fielder Duffy Lewis. The “cliff” was a 10-foot inclined slope in located in left field until 1933. Duffy Lewis would run up the hill and catch fly balls like he was in his own backyard.

Fenway Park is also—according to ardent Red Sox fans—the birthplace of the wave. It all started in the early 1900s, they say. Whenever a fan stood to get another beer, others in the row stood to let the fan exit. Whereupon, fans in rows behind would stand to keep watching the game. A chain-reaction of standing people would trickle across the section. And the Wave was born.

The old woman and her family settled in for the game. Her mother was struggling to breathe because that’s what lung cancer does to a woman. But the old gal was still keeping score on her scorecard. With a pencil. Like she always did.

When she was a girl, living in Charlestown, the summers were blisteringly hot, and the days were carefree. Her father used to leave their apartment for work, but turn on the radio before he left. He’d leave her with a scorecard. Her job was to keep score for him.

So that’s what she was doing today. She was keeping score. Remembering the cigar smoke. Thinking about the days of yore.

Keeping score on a card is an art. Whenever the hitter would ground out to shortstop, she would write “6-3.” When the hitter would fly out to left, she would write “7.” She marked every error. Every double play.

Thankfully, the Crimson Hose won the game that night. She was ecstatic. Her daughter remarked, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy, except when they won the Series in 2004.”

October 27, 2004. It was the Sox’s first Series win since 1918. The only Boston World Series win the old woman had ever witnessed in her lifetime. A square-off between the Saint Louis Gas House Gang and the Cardiac Kids. The Sox swept the Cards in four games. It was historic.

“I remember that day,” said her daughter. “My mom called me on the phone, I was working in San Antonio at the time. My mom was crying hysterically. She said, ‘We won, honey! We won!’”

The Sox won this game too. It was a good game. A big win. One might even say the Sox won it for her.

She died last Tuesday. She went quickly. Her family was nearby. A few days later, she was lying in a casket, with a Red Sox lapel pin fixed to her collar. A faint smile on her face.

I wonder if there is cigar smoke in heaven.


  1. Slimpicker - July 1, 2023 2:43 am

    There may not be cigar smoke in heaven, but I’ll bet you can smell parched peanuts or boiled peanuts in the southern part of heaven.

  2. stephen e acree - July 1, 2023 1:57 pm

    Even Babe Ruth smiled at that story.


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