Tuesday, April 12, 2005

From Boston to Bohola

I just paid a visit to the Boston Globe website, where they have a lovely little slideshow showing the presentation yesterday of the Boston Red Sox team of 2004 with their World Series rings, and I feel quite emotional as a result.

Last year's World Series was the first World Series that Boston have won since 1918, which is a long, long time to wait. And the Red Sox organisation were sufficiently aware of how long the faithful had been waiting that they thought outside the box to make the ceremony really mean something. Not only did they involve all of last year's team, including flying players back to Boston from Los Angeles and San Diego, from the teams to which they'd been traded since the Series, but also including giants of the past. The gloriously named Carl Yastrzemski walked Fenway Park again. Eighty-five year old Johnny Pesky, who played shortshop when Boston's Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter, set the all time single season batting average record just before Pearl Harbour and World War II, was there too, suited up with the big Boston B on his cap.

In a display of sports ecumenism that's impossible to imagine in Ireland, the ceremonial opening pitches were made by other giants of Bostonian sports history. Teddy Bruschi, a key member of the current New England Patriots team that's won three Super Bowls in four years was there. So was Bobby Orr, of an all-conquering Boston Bruins hockey team of the 1970s. And so was Bill Russell, the greatest player on the greatest - so far - Boston sports team in history, Red Auerbach's Boston Celtics of the 1960s. And they all came there to acknowledge the fact that the Red Sox were back in the big time, that the faithful had been semper fidelis all through those long years of famine, and that in sports in Boston, the Sox are first among equals, that there's no shame in saying that a Sox series is a bigger deal than a Patriot Super Bowl. Baseball runs too deep in the weft and weave of the Boston psyche for a Sox series not to overawe any event other than, perhaps, another Kennedy presidency.

And once again the scene was changed; new earth there seemed to be; I saw the Holy City beside the tideless sea; or, to be more specific, Castlebar, Co Mayo, the technical home if not the beating heart of Mayo football. And then, as the vision deepened and intensified, and I saw a Mayo County Board that remembered the barren half-century and remembered those that still wore the Green and Red with pride for so many barren years - Jinkin' Joe Corcoran, Willie Joe, TJ, Liam McHale, heroes all, who were called forth from retirement and anonymity and told come, join us now in this hour of celebration, our good and faithful servants. And then I could already hear Morgan Freeman's narration on the commemorative DVD of Mayo's first All-Ireland since 1951: "I can't rightly remember when I became aware that if I was a Mayoman I was always going to lose; it seemed like that was always the way. And then Andy Dufrense/ Maggie Fitzgerald / Kieran 'McDanger' McDonald faded one in over the blackspot into the graveyard end at the Hyde and well, we knew that there and then that this was going to be a very special summer..."

Go dté an Spailpín slán go dti an aimsir aoibhinn sin.