Posted by: Bob Stocking | June 14, 2014

Happy 100th, Dziadziu!

Today would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday. Amongst the many nice things my Dziadziu did for me was to take me to my first Red Sox game, during the 1971 season. I was eight. My dad and I drove from our house in New Hampshire to his house in Lawrence, MA. We went to Fenway with a group on a bus.

I still have some vivid memories of that night. I remember walking up the ramp to see the field for the first time. I had never seen grass so green in my life. And no matter how many games you watch on TV, there’s nothing like seeing the Green Monster in person. In those days there were no seats above it, only a screen to keep balls from landing on Lansdowne Street. I remember Dziadziu buying me a Red Sox yearbook for $1. And I had never used a trough urinal before.

My memories of the game are a bit fuzzier. I remember that it was summer time, and a weeknight, and the Orioles were the opponent. I thought it went extra innings, and I thought the Sox won on a walk-off home run hit over the Monster, and I thought Mike Nagy hit it. To get some clarity, I went to the wonderful site Baseball Reference. They have box scores back to 1876. Looking at the Red Sox boxes for 1971, the only extra inning home win against Baltimore was on a Saturday in June, and it was the first game of a double-header, so that wasn’t it. [Worth noting: the Sox played 13 double-headers that season.] But they did have a ninth-inning walk-off win later that summer, at night. It did not end on a home run, but on a hit to left. And although pitchers were hitting in the AL in 1971, it would have been unlikely that Mike Nagy would have hit a home run, because he was a pitcher and he never hit a dinger in the majors.

This means this is the box score to my first major league baseball game. The Sox won 4-3, and the game-winning hit came from my childhood hero, Carl Yastrzemski. He hit it off another future Hall of Famer, Jim Palmer. The Mike I remembered may have been Mike Fiore, who pinch-hit for Luis Tiant leading off the ninth, drew a walk, and scored on Yaz’s hit.

Since that night I have watched games in 22 MLB stadiums, but none is finer than Fenway. And I have watched with friends and family, and gone by myself, too. But no one can match my company on that August night in 43 years ago: my dad, and my Dziadziu. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. And happy 100th, Red Solak.

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Responses

  1. Beautiful. Fenway was also the first ballpark I took my son to, when he was seven, and it was followed by the remaining 29 over the next 9 years. But Fenway will always be our favorite. Well written.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. 30 ballparks in nine years is amazing.

  2. […] my beloved Red Sox play the Mariners. This year marks 45 years since my first trip to Fenway (in an earlier post I tracked down the box score of that game against the Orioles), which means I have seen generations […]


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