New England Fans Were Born This Way

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Why are all New England sports fans so fiercely loyal?  If you even think about bad mouthing our teams, players, coaches, management or fans, it may come down to fisticuffs! I’m not kidding.

For all the New England haters who do not understand, here’s the deal.

It starts at birth. If you are born in New England, it’s over. It’s in the DNA. You are automatically initiated into this exclusive club. You leave the hospital in a team beanie and every relative takes a thousand pictures and posts them all over the internet and you are only 2 days old. You are now officially a New England Fan and are expected to live, eat and breathe the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox or Patriots!

You grow up wearing every possible hat, visor, t-shirt, jersey and jacket, and you own every folding chair, cooler, koozie cup, backpack, grill, and tent with our team logos on it, and you showcase all the team decals on all your cars, boats, motorcycles, golf carts and anything else that the public will see. You are a proud and loyal fan and you want everyone to know it.

Your parents start planning your first trip to Fenway or the Boston Garden (can’t even call it the Wells Fargo Center, because it’s the Garden) or Foxboro Stadium (ok, Gillette Stadium). You anticipate opening day and the start of the season. It’s a big deal. You grow up learning every player on every team and you revolve your entire social life around watching or attending games. Here’s a few of my own memories and I’m sure there are more but my memory isn’t as good as it once was.

I remember as a kid watching the Boston Bruins. When they won the Stanley Cup in 1970 after 29 years with Bobby Orr’s game winning goal my entire family was going crazy screaming like raving lunatics in the family room! And more specifically I recall how we use to watch the games on Channel 38, a UHF Channel with really bad reception. We had aluminum foil wrapped around the antenna to improved reception and we moved it around constantly to get a better signal! Ah, the good ol’ days.

I still get chills watching that moment on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOIlfV-XtBg

I knew all the main players and their numbers: Sanderson (16), Cashman (12), Cheevers (30), Esposito (7), Bucyk (The Chief, 9) and Orr (4). My Dad had “the most wanted” Rhode Island license plate on his car for years. BRUIN4. It is now is securely hung up in his garage as a tribute to the great #4.

Later in my sports marketing career, I had the honor to meet the great Bobby Orr at the Garden with Harry Sinden when I was working with the Bruins. I brought an 8 x 10 photo of his gaming winning goal with him suspended in mid-air and he autographed it for my Dad.

Bobby Orr wrote, “John, Great License Plate, Bobby Orr #4”

And we were patient and loyal Bruins fans. After a 39 year drought, the Bruins win the Cup again in 2011.

I remember waitressing in 1986 at the Crossroad Pub in Warren, RI. People were in the dining room (why they were even there and not home watching the game still disturbs me) and I was in the kitchen ignoring them and watching the final minutes of Game 6 of the World Series on a tiny little white television. I was stunned and in disbelief after we lost to the Mets, just 1 out away, with a 5-4 lead in the 10th inning. Poor Bill Buckner. I definitely went to the bar that night and I bet he did too.

In 1991, I flew out of Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA with the Boston Celtics on their team jet. I was a sports marketing executive on the plane and the only other females were two flight attendants. Story of my life.  Everyone else was a player or coach or trainer or executive. I got to sit next to Dennis Johnson on the outbound flight and Rick Fox on the team bus. Fox was a rookie and so cool and I distinctly remember the remarkable color of his eyes. I will detail the rest of this amazing day in my book. It was a once in a lifetime experience and one that I will never forget. I will be a Celtics fan for life.

October 2004. Every fan will tell you where they were when the Red Sox executed the 4-game, 4-straight win comeback after a 3-0 deficit to the NY Yankees to win the ALCS! OMG. It was EPIC!!!

Then, the Red Sox go on to win the 2004 World Series for first time in 86 years. I think the world stopped. Generations were finally rewarded for the endless disappointments they endured as a Boston Red Sox fan. My Dad taped the victory parade in Boston and cried watching the celebration after we finally broke the curse of the Bambino. That’s how emotional we are in New England.

And then we prevailed in 2007 versus the Rockies when Papelbon closed out the sweep to win again! And then again in 2013. What a run over the last 9 years for the Sox! Redemption!

Now on to the Patriots.

Where do I even begin? We are the most dominant combination of human weapons to ever grace the football field under the brains of Coach Belichick.  I hear the haters getting restless as I write this. Don’t care. I don’t need you to agree with me.

My Pats have been through the 4 Stages of Success with the NFL and the media.

  • Attention
  • Criticism
  • Haters
  • Admiration

And if you are personally stuck at #3, you will soon be at #4. You cannot deny it. The New England Patriots will be in their 10th AFC Championship game with Belichick and Brady. We are marching toward a 5th Super Bowl Championship.

We just have to get by another epic match up with the Denver Broncos and watch one more Brady-Manning showdown. I can’t wait.

My dog Diva, who is a 3 lb. yorkie, has been sporting her Pats jersey all week. I will be dressed in my Patriots attire (because that’s what we do) and hosting my AFC Championship Party at 1 p.m. AZ time. It doesn’t matter that I live in AZ. It wouldn’t matter if I were on the moon. Patriots fans are loyal wherever they are.

By the way, it’s not like we have always been on the winning end of things. Granted we have been on quite a run recently. We earned our bragging rights. So for those of you who don’t understand us and are annoyed by us, we were born this way. Now you know.

Good luck today boys!!  Representing Patriots Nation from the desert!

Love,

Gina

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What I Learned From MLB Legend Don Baylor

DonBaylor3What I Learned from MLB Legend Don Baylor.

Don Baylor is a Major League Baseball Coach and former MLB Baseball player and manager. During his 19 seasons in the major leagues, Baylor was a power hitter known for crowding the plate. He was a first baseman, left fielder and DH. He played for 6 different American League teams, primarily the Baltimore Orioles, and CA Angels, but he also played for the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.   He later managed the expansion Colorado Rockies for 6 years and the Chicago Cubs for three seasons.

I met Don and Becky through my husband in 2006 and their initial connection was through baseball since Weston was also a professional baseball player, a pitcher, for 10 years.

The Baylor’s are now solidified in “my Top 10 nicest, kindest people I will ever meet category.” Years ago, Weston and I were on our way to Palm Springs for business, and we called them to see if they were available to meet for dinner.

We met them at their home and I remember being in awe of this amazing trophy case, his photos with United States Presidents at the White House and all the other baseball memorabilia. I also recall how Becky was like a walking baseball encyclopedia and I just sat there listening to the these three baseball gurus chat about the sport they played and loved that was so very much a part of their lives. It was impressive.   I was the outsider in this conversation, but a big fan of the Boston Red Sox (and my Dad could not believe I was going to hang out with Boston’s Don Baylor!).

We decided to go golfing literally in their back yard, which just happened to be the private Arnold Palmer PGA West Course in La Quinta, CA. The setting was amazing and riding around the course with the legendary Don Baylor was a treat. But more impressive was how this power hitter was really the kindest, most down to earth “gentlemen”. To this day, we talk about the “thing” he taught us — but he didn’t even realize he was teaching us at the time.

Don-Baylor1

I casually mentioned on the golf course that I wanted to get a visor in the pro shop so I would have it as a memory of being there. I said it once probably on the 2nd hole. We started playing late in the afternoon and we were on a mission to get all 18 holes in even though it started to get colder and darker. BRRRR! We finished the round and went in the clubhouse, but we couldn’t figure out where Don went. We ordered drinks and then about 10 minutes later Don comes back….with a bag that he gives to me, and inside is a PGA West visor.   Are you kidding me? He was listening? To something I said 4 hours earlier?

Now we go to this Mexican restaurant for the “best” margaritas in the desert. We started talking about our kids, my son Chasen who was starting to play baseball, and of course, my beloved Red Sox. At one point I was on the phone with Chasen. I handed the phone to Don so he could say hello. He talked to him and told him to keep working hard and it will pay off…among other little tidbits. It was a very cool moment for a young kid who really had no idea then the advice he was being given and who was actually delivering it.   The night was great, the company was fantastic, and it’s an experience and memories we will have forever.   But it didn’t end after we left Palm Springs.

Approximately 2 weeks later, I got a big yellow envelope in the mail with the Baylor’s return address on it and the envelope was addressed to my son Chasen (who he’d never met).   Inside were 7 of his baseball cards from the teams he played on and an 8 X 10 photograph. Each card was autographed and the larger photo was a picture of Don swinging at the plate in a “Red Sox Uniform” with this caption,

To Chasen,

 My Best To You Always!

Keep Working Hard. It Will Pay Off!

 Your Friend,

 Don Baylor

 1979 AL MVP

 

This is now proudly framed in our home.

But the message here is Don Baylor listened to the little things we said and he showed us with his actions that he was present and truly cared about us. It was those small gestures that made the biggest impact. That’s what he taught us and he did it with his actions, not his words.  It was the way he made us feel.

Don is a famous legendary athlete and his legacy is firmly cemented in the history books. But how many people like me have a similar story like this to share about Don and Becky Baylor?  I have a feeling there are many.  It’s just an endless validation of their amazing character.   It will be an experience we will always remember and we will always talk about.

Gina

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