What Tim Wakefield meant to me
A hero of my childhood, magician with a baseball, leaves us too early.
When the Boston Red Sox ended the curse in 2004, I scared the living hell out of some people in Winston-Salem, NC. I was a shaggy-haired teenager, a couple months into my freshman year at Wake Forest, and no one really knew each other. I was the guy on Tobacco Road who wore the tattered Red Sox hat all the time. And once the Sox won the World Series, they all knew about me — I was the kid possessed, screaming all the air out of my lungs and making an absolute idiot of myself throughout Luter Hall.
“We did it! We f cking did it!”
I don’t know what came over me, but I sprinted out of that dorm hall as fast as I could and headed somewhere, anywhere. I was lost in euphoria. After a while, I don’t know why, but I sprinted to the Quad. That’s the tree-lined, grassy heart of Wake’s campus. I dodged traffic on the streets, bolted around the magnolia trees on the aptly-named Mag Quad, scaled the stairs past the domineering Benson Hall and fell breathlessly onto The Quad.
And there it was: a pile of maniacal human beings flailing on top of each other.
Apparently, about a few dozen Red Sox fans from around campus fled their dorm rooms just like I had. And somehow, we knew this was the place we all needed to be. We jumped on each other, bodies on bodies on bodies and hugged strangers like family until we cried or collapsed — sometimes both. Someone threw a garbage can through the bookstore window because that’s what idiot New Englanders do when the Red Sox win the World Series — they do very, very dumb things.
We all inherited this strain of Red Sox fandom from someone in our family and we were at college in the South, so far away from them. And we were thinking about them in this beautiful madness.
I thought about my dad, first. He’s the one who took me to all those Red Sox games and kept me rooting. And then I thought about Tim Wakefield.