A Lifelong Fan Receives His Salvation
Marc Witkes - Durango Herald (CO)
October 28, 2004

After 86 years of heartache, frustration and brutal near misses, the Boston Red Sox closed a chapter in their history book with a 3-0 win and World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. In two previous World Series, 1946 and 1967, the Red Sox lost in seven games to the Redbirds.

I have been a die-hard Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember. Most of my family are Red Sox fanatics, except for the traitors who have since moved to New Jersey.

I'm not a skier and I don't care much for snow, but it will be a much shorter winter now that the Red Sox have finally delivered their promises made to three generations of Hub of the Universe fans. The great St. Louis Cardinals infielder Rogers Hornsby once said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait for spring."

My feelings exactly.

When the former batting champion and All-Star Nomar Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June in a blockbuster deal that included Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera, Sox fans questioned General Manager Theo Epstein's wisdom. By his own admission, Epstein was a lonely man that week. But now the Cubs are stuck with the new Nomar Curse, and they sat home and watched television during October.

Watching savior Curt Schilling pitch in pain in Game 2, with his ankle held together by stitches and guts, was inspirational.

I've only been married since January and already my wife, Cathy, was nearly at her wits end with my true passion fully exposed. But in the end, I successfully converted her to be one of the "Fenway Faithful."

Robert Milofsky, a chemistry professor at Fort Lewis College who grew up down the street from Fenway Park, attended Game 2 in Boston with his mother, who just celebrated her 69th birthday.

"I made a promise to my wife and my students and colleagues at Fort Lewis that I was Boston-bound when the Sox beat the Yankees," Milofsky said. "Our tickets, which cost $890 plus $88 in processing fees plus $20 for FedEx, were worth every penny - no, make that every Schilling."

Fans in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, set up their own fan club.

"We are America's team," says Peter Roberts, a Red Sox fan in Anchorage, Alaska.

Even the world's oldest man, Fred Hale Sr., 113, was rooting for the Sox. On game nights, Hale sat with his 84-year-old son, Fred Jr., to watch the first few innings of each World Series game before going to bed. Both live at The Nottingham, a senior residence center in Syracuse, NY.

When I think about this year's championship, I think about my deceased grandfather who also wanted it. Grandpa and I watched many a Saturday afternoon game together on WSBK, channel 38.

Watching the Red Sox this year gave me more of a reason to keep in touch with my family in Massachusetts. Conversations usually began with, "Did you see the game last night?" Even my 68-year-old father, who has never been a sports fan, took to cheering the Sox.

WCVB's TheBostonChannel.com reported that Brigham's Ice Cream had recently come out with a special flavor designed to help reverse the Sox's fortunes. It worked.

"This is the best ice cream we've ever had. It's gotten the biggest response. It's moved the fastest. We've had to kick up production to handle the demand," Brigham's Ice Cream spokeswoman Jessica Olson said.

The Red Sox have had a long history of charitable donations with the Jimmy Fund, an organization that treats children with cancer. This year the Make a Wish Foundation and Major League Baseball helped several youngsters see a dream come true and attend a World Series game.

So, now what else do I have to live for? The demons have been exorcised and the Curse is a long-distant memory. If I die tomorrow, I'll leave this Earth a happy man and join my grandfather who is smiling today.

Marc Witkes, born and bred in Worcester, Mass, writes a column on running for the Herald in Durango, Colorado. He assures me that his good feeling about the 2004 Red Sox should last through the long Colorado winter, and maybe....through a lifetime.

Marc unexpectedly collapsed and died in the last mile of the Tucson Marathon on December 10, 2006. He was 40-years old. "Marc pretty much lived his life to the fullest," said those who knew him best.

For more on the life and times of a passionate Red Sox fan and human being, read:   Stubborn and lovable: An ode to Marc Witkes