Before Shane Victorino strode to the plate with bases loaded in the 7th inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, trailing by a run, the Fenway crowd serenaded him by loudly belting out, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, which is Victorino’s walk up song. Singing along to the lyrics of that song has become a tradition at Fenway and as the playoffs have gotten deeper, the Fenway crowd has gotten inspirationally louder with each proud rendition. Whether invigorated by the crowd or not, Victorino responded, blasting a Grand Slam to put the Red Sox up for good, 5-2, in the ALCS clinching game that sent the Red Sox and their Nation onto the 2013 World Series. The impact of that historic homerun was obviously huge for the Red Sox, but the moment that truly moved me, even more than that home run, was when the crowd proudly trumpeted, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing, gonna be all right,” because not only was it inspirational and cool, but it also triggered emotions and meaning for me that reminded me of why the game of baseball has so impacted my life; Why I love baseball and love the Red Sox and why I love Boston!
These are Jimmy’s Seats. It’s his world. He just live in it.
Before I explain why, let me back up for a moment to put some perspective and definition around the kind of impactful moments that ultimately define our fanaticism and sometimes, who we are. I have been lucky enough to have witnessed so many incredible and historic baseball games and other sporting events in general in my lifetime. And more so, I have been lucky enough to experience surreal, indelible moments that transcend the game itself. You see, beyond the elation or heartache of the game’s outcome, there are these rare hidden gems of emotion, feelings and experiences that strike us unexpectedly and forever affect us, emotionally and sometimes spiritually. These moments can affirm you, lock you in as a card-carrying, full-fledged baseball fanatic for life because they provide the vehicle for those moments. They become a part of you. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience these kind of moments, you know what I am talking about. Whether getting caught up in an unexpected, surreal sports moment or witnessing baseball history & sharing an emotional bond with your father, son, daughter or friends, these moments touch you deeply and stay with you forever.
I was at Fenway for a playoff game in each the ALDS and ALCS. Besides experiencing that incredible swarm of electricity that buzzes through ballparks like Fenway during the playoffs, there was something else that captivated me at those games, giving me chills and leaving one of those indelible marks on me. It involves a now recurring event that started earlier this year and has caught fire in during playoff games at Fenway Park each time that Shane Victorino strides to the plate. It was that same electric moment that a national TV audience witnessed as Victorino came to the plate before smacking his ALCS clinching Grand Slam against the Tigers that sent my emotions flashing back to when I first experienced 38,000 fans belting out, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing, gonna be all right” when Victorino came to bat. Not because we’ve never heard the entire Fenway crowd singing in unison, I mean, they do it every game when they belt out “Sweet Caroline” after the top of the 8th inning, but because of it’s polysemantic meaning for the people of Boston.
The Red Sox can’t help but to be linked to the Boston Marathon bombings by proxy because of the traditions surrounding the annual “Patriot’s Day” Game. Patriot’s Day is a local Boston Holiday where the Sox annually begin play at the odd time of 11am to allow for fans to scurry out at games end and catch a glimpse of the runners just a block away from the park, as they race the last mile towards the finish line. And they are tied to it because of their response when they returned home for the first time after the bombings and how their play embodied the strength and resilience of the town they play for. And there is no doubt, that made a conscious decision when he chose that song. The lyrics are purposefully and dually emblematic of his personality and of his message to Bostonians. It is his anthem and also his message of support and encouragement to the people of Boston after the tragedy surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings. And by singing it loud & clear each time Shane comes to bat is Boston’s way of thanking Victorino for the gesture and more importantly, it’s Boston’s way of announcing to the world that despite those tragic events, “every little thing, Gonna be alright!” That’s what makes it so special. That’s what sent a bolt of shivering tingles up and down my spine the first time I witnessed it in person. It’s symbolically bigger than the game of baseball. It’s about life and persevering! Long after this season is over, that surreal, electric moment of hearing 38,000 fans belt out to the world that every thing is going to be ok, will stick with me forever! Forever!!!