This is what heaven must look like.--Fred Pfannenstiel, a lifelong Red Sox fan
It certainly felt like heaven when Erika, Todd, and I arrived at Tropicana Field a couple of hours before game time. I just looked up to see where we were sitting for the game and beelined it down to the front rows to catch our "Idiots" taking batting practice and the possibility for autographs from our heroes.
My heart was doing the mamba in my chest as I clutched Johnny Damon's new book Idiot: Beating The Curse and Enjoying The Game of Life and took a position among the throng of Red Sox fans from all over America on the third-base line.
For those who aren't Red Sox or baseball fans, the term "Idiot" is not an insult to the Red Sox players (We have come up with worse names for them when they are losing!), but a term of endearment that was coined by Red Sox first baseman and team clown Kevin Millar and took off when Johnny Damon told the press before a Yankees/Red Sox game, "We're not going to try to figure it out. We're just a bunch of idiots..."
I thought I was a die-hard Sox fan, but many of these fans took the cake. The lady next to me had a David Ortiz Wheaties box and a limited-edition NASCAR with the Red Sox all over it. Other people had signs or other memorabilia, and don't get me started on all of the T-shirts. I felt right at home among my fellow fans. It was great talking with some of the fans about the Curse, clinching the World Series, and our Red Sox.
I got all excited seeing Johnny Damon, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez taking B.P. "There's my Papi!" I exclaimed when Ortiz came out to bat. We fans were not disappointed when Big Papi and Manny put on a homerun show by cranking bombs over the left-field fence.
Seeing our now-disabled, left-handed pitcher David Wells out, taking fielding practice, was great too. "Boomer" was quite the character of baseball before joining the Red Sox this year. Overweight and with a shaved head and goatee, he admitted in his book Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Baseball, Beer, and Brawls that he was half-drunk when he pitched his perfect game as a Yankee in 1998. This admission earned him a fine from his then-boss, George Steinbrenner. His book is a very funny account of his life in baseball and has endeared him to baseball fans for his down to earth attitude and style. I wish I had my copy of his book, but Mom was reading it back home.
Then the Tampa Bay Mascot Raymond came over to the Red Sox side of the field (the entire left field side was Red Sox Nation) to play with the fans and sign autographs. The lady with the Ortiz Wheaties box said that Raymond looked "like a Smurf on Acid." I had to agree with that. Raymond got as far as this lady and goofed off with her car before getting called away for pre-game ceremonies. Shortly after that, the security guard said we needed to return to our seats because the pre-game stuff was starting, and us fans were very bummed out because our beloved Sox never had time to sign autographs.
I was bummed out about no autographs and meeting my heroes, but the experience of watching "our Idiots" in B.P. was awesome, and I will be talking about it for a long time to come.