Between Lansdowne and Yawkey Way

As a kid growing up in southern New Jersey, you were either a Phillies fan or a Mets fan. There was always a baseball game on in my house, either on TV or on the radio so I learned the rules of the game quickly. I collected the baseball cards and knew the players names, teams and stats. 

When I moved to southern Connecticut as a teenager, classmates would ask me which team I liked. My answer was always, “Anyone but the Yankees.” Their response was always, “Oh, so you’re a Boston Red Sox fan.” I wasn’t too familiar with the Red Sox. This was before the days of good ESPN and local team coverage. Unable to get most Phillies and Mets games at the time, I started watching the Red Sox. I was a casual fan, catching mostly post-season games.

In my early 20s, I grew to love to the Red Sox and the Yankees rivalry. I met my husband who spent a few years living in Boston, attending games at Fenway on a regular basis. He took me to Fenway for the first time the year we were married, and coincidentally the same year they won the World Series in 2004. Since then Fenway has become one of my favorite places to visit. I love the history, the atmosphere and the faith of the fans.

Baseball season opens tomorrow, and I’m getting revved up with some light reading:

An in-depth look into the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees can be found in The Great Rivalry. Even though the author is a Yankees fan, he managed to write an objective book that provides countless anecdotes in which the players and fans have butted heads. Not only did I learn more about Babe Ruth’s “Curse,” I also became versed in Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio’s competitions, the Babe and Lou Gehrig’s home run records, and in-depth information about various pennant races through the years.

Stephen King, a die-hard Sox fan, co-wrote Faithful with his friend. This book chronicles emails between the two during 2004. It’s fun to look back and feel the excitement of that year. I wish my husband and I did something similar. It would have been fun to remember our first year of marriage with Boston winning the World Series as a backdrop.

After browsing through Fenway, I need to order tickets for the season! The photos in this book capture the feeling of the ballpark: fans of all ages, the grandstand seats that haven’t changed over the years, the way the sun sets against the green monster. Quotes from ball players are strewn throughout the book. Vignettes about Fenway are written by sports authors, commentators and even George Steinbrenner, Yankees owner from 1973-2010. Steinbrenner suggested, in the 1999 book, that it was time to build a new stadium to be competitive. I think the lack of nostalgia is one of the biggest differences between Red Sox and Yankees fans.

Curse Reversed is a great photo/timeline of the 2004 season. It details the important games of the year, including the rivalry between the Yankees, the playoffs, and the World Series. It’s fun to look through the photos of Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez when they were on the team.

Jerry Remy, Red Sox player from 1978-1984 and NESN commentator, wrote a series of children’s books about Wally the Green Monster mascot. These books, best to be shared with children ages five to eight, teach about Fenway, Boston and baseball in general with a gentle touch of humor. You can travel the globe in Wally the Green Monster and His World Tour, or the United States in Coast-to-Coast with Wally the Green Monster. My personal favorite is A Season with Wally the Green Monster. You can follow Wally throughout the year: winter vacation with his feet up in the hot tub, spring training in Florida, baseball season, and most importantly the World Series.

Let’s play ball!

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who can’t wait until next weekend to watch the first Red Sox-Yankees series of the year.

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