By Tonya Malinowski / News Editor
It all started with Trot Nixon.
Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Boston was on the hunt for a red October as Nixon faced down Clemens and broke the scoreless tie, hushing Yankee Stadium with that epic two-run homer.
That precise moment, that whole series, affirmed my love for the game of baseball.
Of course, Red Sox Manager Grady Little left a wrung-out Martinez in for the 8th, which led to arguably one of the most crushing losses in Sox history. But no matter, my newfound respect for the game was born.
I grew up in a National League home; my father began grooming me to be a Braves fan from an early age. If I had been born a boy, you can surely bet my name would be Dale Murphy.
I was mildly interested, but I never had that true itch for the game until I found the Sox.
Nixon’s passion and dedication to the game (and maybe the mohawk he sported in 2004) made me wish I loved anything as much as that man loved baseball.
After sitting in the infield grandstand for Nixon’s last game in Boston and watching him jog off the field, I knew that feeling of humbling respect was something everyone should experience.
I love baseball because of the excitement; the electric silence that seems to fall over the world when there’s a full count with Papelbon on the mound.
It’s that jump-to-your-feet instinct when a struggling J.D. Drew smashes a grand slam in game 6 of the 2007 ALCS, saving the Sox from elimination.
The opening monologue in Bull Durham told us there is the same number of stitches in a baseball, 108, as there are beads on a Catholic rosary, proving that baseball in America is iconic enough to be likened to its own religion.
Baseball is so entwined with American history that the two have almost mirrored each other in their development and change, struggles and triumphs.
When America was in the throes of the Depression, millions turned their radios to FDR, who, in order to explain his ideals in terms everyone could understand, used baseball metaphors.
I love baseball because of its power of unification. There are so many possible rifts among us as a nation, as families, as friends, but the vernacular of baseball is instant commonality.
The passion of the Sox-Yankee rivalry is the only thing that can have a bar full of men up at arms one moment, and then exchanging beers and high fives the next.
There’s something about baseball that brings out the child in everyone. Life is suddenly not about deadlines or rush hour; it’s about trying not to break into a dead sprint when coming out of the tunnel and getting the season’s first glimpse of that pristine field.
I love baseball because of the suicide squeeze, an outfielder going over the wall to turn a home run into an out, 30 different names for a hot dog, and 37,000 people all singing “Sweet Caroline”.
It’s been a long winter. We’ve been bogged down with political overload, economic desperation, and all too much seriousness. It’s time for some baseball salvation.