Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daddy Con & the Red Sox

Daddy Con in about 1925
I’ve always loved baseball, especially when I was a kid.  Back then I knew the starting lineups of just about every team, where they were in the standings and where they had finished in prior years.

Before I started High School we used to go visit my Mom’s family in Boston every summer.  Daddy Con was an ardent Red Sox Fan.  He’d sit at his chair by the back door looking out over his yard and Broadway listening to the games and smoking his pipe. Boston was usually losing in those days and I can remember him standing up and saying, “I think I’ll get another bottle of beer.  Maybe that’ll change their luck.”  He’d go down to the basement for a bottle of Old India Pale Ale, but I don’t remember it ever changing the Sox luck.

During our visits Daddy Con and I frequently argued (good-naturedly) about which team was better – my favorite, the Cincinnati Reds or his, the Boston Red Sox.  My argument was that although Boston had some good players (Ted Williams in particular) they were losers, as, during my short life, they usually finished each season near the bottom of the standings.  Although I didn’t realize it, looking back, the Reds weren’t much better during that era.

Now that I’m older I realize that about the time Daddy Con, a teenager or very young man, moved to America and settled in Boston, another young man (only six months younger than Daddy Con) was also just beginning life in Boston.  That man was Babe Ruth.

Ruth warming up for the Red Sox
at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1914.
Yeah, that’s right Daddy Con and the Babe are almost exactly the same age.  While most connect Babe with the Yankees, he spent his first five years in the Majors with the Sox.  He was a great player right from the start.  And those early years with the Sox were Daddy Con's first years in America

It’s easy to see how Daddy Con became a Red Sox fan.  I’m not sure exactly when he came to America, but the Sox were very successful around that time, winning the World Series in 1912, 1915, 1916 & 1918.  It’s easy to imagine a young man, eager to “fall in love” with his adopted country, being swept up in the excitement of rooting for the Sox, especially with a charismatic player like Ruth on the team.

Daddy Con never mentioned ever attending a game, so I don’t know if he ever saw Ruth in person.  In 1961 Dad, Uncle Johnny and I attended a game at Fenway.  They played the Cleveland Indians (and since we were from Ohio I rooted for them).  We sat in the right field stands and Ted Williams hit a homerun that came right towards us although it landed many rows in front of us.  Jimmy Piersall also played in that game, for the Indians, and hit two homers – one of which cleared the screen above the “Green Monster”.  I was very impressed by that.

In 1993 I was in Boston.  Mom & Dad were there too.  We decided to see a Sox game and went to see them play the Twins.  As we talked we realized that, for all three of us, it was the second game we'd seen at Fenway.  The game Dad & I had seen with Uncle Johnny was our only other time in Fenway.  It was nearly 32 years previous.  Mom couldn’t remember what year she'd seen her previous game, but she did remember that Lefty Grove pitched for the Red Sox.  Grove’s last season with the Red Sox was 1941, so it had been at least 52 years since Mom’s last time in the Fens!

Now to change the subject a bit – Babe Ruth was of German heritage.  So are we on my Dad’s side.  In fact, the maiden name of one of my Great-great-grandmothers was Ruth.  Ruth is not a common surname, so there is some chance that we might be related.

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