'Sox lid': A hat changed my life
By Carroll Trainum
The first week of August marked the 11th anniversary of a life-changing event for me. My wife and I were married in 2002 and went to Boston on our honeymoon. During a failed attempt to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, we bought Boston Red Sox ball caps outside on Yawkey Way. We were tourists, not baseball fans— much less Sox fans. Those hats changed things for us from then on.
Almost ten years ago, the Hook published my essay, "Sox Lid: A Hat is Not Just a Hat." In it, I recounted the saga of my ball cap—how it got the attention of the then long-suffering “Red Sox Nation” (Boston fans) wherever I went, and how that community accepted me as a fellow sufferer. (It’s been said that “being a Red Sox fan is an illness.”) My essay ended in 2003 as a Yankee fan heckled me after Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez lost the AL series to New York. I realized then that I was bonafide Red Sox Fan. Much has happened since then and— for me— the catalyst was a Red Sox Hat.
2004 was a red letter year for the Boston Red Sox. The American League Championship Series pitted Boston against New York, one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports. Boston lost the first three games of a best-of-seven series and needed to win the next four games; a feat never accomplished before. Prior to game four, some Boston players actually congratulated Yankee players for winning the championship. The 2004 Red Sox not only won the last four games for the ALC but also swept the St. Louis Cardinals for a World Series win; the first since 1918.
Red Sox fans throughout New England were delirious! They filled the streets of Boston celebrating the win, and many placed notes on the graves of deceased loved ones to let them know they could now rest in peace. The last win of the series— on Oct. 27th, 2004— was the best birthday present I ever had. Then lightning struck again in 2007 when Boston won the World Series.
A number of my in-laws are baseball fans. Though not Red Sox fans, I developed a special bond with them. While visiting family I watched ballgames on TV and talked baseball for hours with them. Being long-time fans, they were able to answer my questions and teach me the nuances of baseball. I became hooked. “How could anyone call baseball boring?” I found myself wondering.
My wife has come around, too. While we still haven’t been in Fenway Park (which celebrated 100 years in 2012) we’ve attended a number of Red Sox games. We love Baltimore’s Camden Yards, where Sox fans often out-number Orioles fans. (This ballpark has been dubbed “Boston South” by fans who find it easier and cheaper to see games there than at Fenway.) We’ve also seen them play in Philadelphia, and have attended a couple of non-Sox games elsewhere, too.
I regret becoming a baseball fan so late. I’ve met so many fans— particularly Red Sox fans— who grew up with baseball and are in it for life. People see my hat and stop to tell me of their history with the Red Sox and reminisce about their family’s love of Boston baseball. Some of them talk about their allegiance to what can be called one of the most frustrating franchises in Major League Baseball.
Wherever I go— even on a recent trip to Alaska— members of the Red Sox Nation acknowledge our bond. Often they call out “Nice hat” and give me thumbs up. Other times, the call is: “Go Sox!” followed by a fist-thump over their hearts. And I get it. All this because of a hat.
Carroll Trainum started writing for The Hook in 2004 because of his Sox Lid (as Hawes Spencer named it). With 12 essays and one cover story in The Hook, he is very sorry to see it coming to an end. He sends a farewell and warm wishes to Courtney Stuart and the staffers of the Hook! (And has high hopes that the Boston Red Sox will win the World Series in 2013.)