The Boston Red Sox were eliminated from the American League playoffs today by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as good an occasion as any to honor the Red Sox cap for its iconic status.
I’ve had occasional flirtations with the BoSox but mostly an uneasy relationship over the years. My first youth baseball team was the Red Sox, and for a while I tried emulating the high-elbow batting stance of Carl Yaztremski (inset). A lot of good that did me.
I saw quite a few games involving the Red Sox and Indians at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in the 1960s. At one, I sat next to a kid a year or two younger than I who said he was a cousin of Rico Petrocelli. He had a notebook with pages full of Rico’s autograph. (Did he offer me one? No — my first lesson in the social charms of New Englanders.)
When I went off to college in New England, I encountered gale-force Red Sox boosterism from the overwhelming majority of my classmates. It was tough being an Indians fan in that environment, and over the four years of my undergraduate studies I eventually talked myself into rooting for the Red Sox as a second-level affiliation.
When I moved to Milwaukee for graduate school, one of the first things I did in my free time was head to County Stadium to see the Brewers play the Red Sox. The ratio of Brewers-to-Sox fans that evening was about 39,000-to-1, and I kept my mouth shut. Fact is, I couldn’t cut it as a Red Sox fan. For one thing, my Great Lakes accent was pretty much an instant barrier into my stepping out onto Yawkey Way. And my heart wasn’t in it.
Nonetheless, I did cheer raucously when the Sox finally broke their streak and won the World Series a couple of years ago. And I must acknowledge the power of the Red Sox cap. It’s been around seemingly forever, or at least since 1933 according to the Dressed to the Nines baseball uniform database. That Red “B” — as in Beaneaters — against the blue field is a classic. It’s no wonder a newspaper publisher friend and Red Sox diehard wears one everywhere he goes.