Father’s Day always makes me think of baseball. Actually, it always makes me think of the Red Sox. Since we as children are inherently selfish, we tend to compartmentalize our fathers into categories. The Fishing Father. The BBQ Father. The Toolbox Father. The Car Father. My dad has and always will be The Baseball Father and The Red Sox Father. In honor of growing up with him and Pedro Martinez and Mo Vaughn and Troy O’Leary and the all the rest, I give you my Top Five Most Memorable Baseball Moments of the Nineties. I’ve excluded the strike and Selig adding the wildcard. Those aren’t really “moments” to me.
(And I left out the Yankees. You can cry all you want about it but, like, they’ve had enough attention. They were amazing, I agree, but as a Red Sox fan I just need to leave them out. Ok?)
5. The 1999 MLB All-Star Game
I am including this solely for the personal reasons tied to it. This post is, after all, dedicated to my pops. This remains the one and only time I’ve attended a FanFest. I was an 11-year-old girl who wanted to be a boy, and it seemed like everything I had ever wanted. It was baseball everything. It was Red Sox everything. We played games and got free stuff. It was the first time I realized that I was quiet by nature and that if I was going to beat the boys I was going to have to be a lot louder. I was competing with my brothers and all these other kids for everything. What I remember the most is getting to “call” a classic game with my dad and my older brother. My brother kept edging me out of the conversation and in the recording you can barely hear me. It was something we kept on the shelf for years and it always made me sad to know I didn’t speak up at such a memorable/important time. I’ve kept that lesson close for years.
4. Clemens Ties His Own 20 K Record – September 18th, 1996
What I remember the most about this game is what happened the next day. Everyone at school was talking about how their Dads let them stay up late to watch the end of the game. It was history in the making and we all felt special for having experienced it and for having experienced it with our dads. How cool were our dads that they let us stay up late for baseball? Clemons had tied his own record a decade after he first made it. It was an “old guys still got juice” moment and I think every Dad was touched by it. Sadly, Clemons left the Sox at the end of the season. Losing Clemons was essentially my first break-up.
3. Cal Ripken Jr. Breaks Lou Gherig’s Record for Most Consecutive Games Played – September 6th, 1995
I only knew who Cal Ripkin Jr. was because my mom couldn’t shut up about his dreamy eyes for most of my childhood. My only baseball heroes were Boston players (with the exception of my brief stint as a Mariners/Griffey Jr. fan because my softball team colors matched theirs). As I look at my list I am realizing that most of my favorite moments happened in the post-season. Maybe that’s the nature of post-season but also maybe because they’re cemented by my interactions with the kids at school. Either way, Game 2,131 was an important one because it was a little bit (and I mean a little bit) like a good effort award. Of course Ripkin already had some MVP awards tucked under his belt, but by playing that many games he proved that you can be something amazing if you just show up and stay consistent. Consistency for the win!
2. Sosa/McGwire Race to 62 HRs – 1998
This basically defines 90s baseball, even though it was later marred by steroid allegations and admissions. At the time this is what was breathing life into baseball. I was just a kid who liked the Red Sox but when the race to 62 started, I became a kid who liked BASEBALL. The sport started to have meaning outside of the guys I watched everyday. It brought fans together and brought some unity and enthusiasm to MLB. It was fun to guess who would do it and illegally bet gum with kids in class. I was always a Sosa fan myself and thought he’d get there first. In the end, watching Sosa run in to congratulate McGwire, that was a pretty sight to see.
1. Pedro Martinez on October 11th, 1999
Do I even need to explain this to you? This was our glory moment. This was pre-bloody sock… This was it. The series was tied and even though Troy O’Leary and Nomar were popping home runs, pitching was shaky (sorry Derek Lowe, I love you still) so they put in Pedro. Even though Pedro had been out since Game 1 with a hurt back. And wouldn’t you know, Pedro pitched a hell of a game and they won. That’s it. Here’s some video because I get emotional and can’t even.