The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. Five days later, Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark still in use in the major leagues opened its doors for the first time.
Fenway Park is a Boston institution. Like many other ballparks, it is an integral part of the atmosphere of the city. Located a couple of miles from the center of town, the Boston Common, Fenway is in bustling Kenmore Square, right near the campus of Boston University, several other colleges and many of Boston’s famed hospitals. Fenway’s beloved unique angles and features are evidence of the fact that the park was designed to fit into the geography of the streets which surround it.
A day at Fenway is not only about seeing a ball game. It is an experience of camaraderie and a celebration of a city and of New England. To see a game at the ballpark is to celebrate a heritage passed down from generation to generation of Bostonians and New Englanders.
In 2012, Fenway Park celebrated its 100thanniversary. The Red Sox offered an opportunity to fans to purchase a commemorative brick to be placed in the concourse within the stadium. My brother and I, the children of two loyal Red Sox fans, decided to purchase a plaque in memory of our parents.
We were sent a replica of the brick for display at home. The wording we chose celebrated our parents’ love of the Red Sox and the fact that my father, Manny Dobrusin, was always “being Manny”. That’s a reference to an ex-Red Sox player, Manny Ramirez, who was had so many idiosyncrasies that his acts were referred to as “Manny being Manny”. That phrase became popular only after our Dad died or we might have put it on his headstone as Manny Dobrusin was every bit as idiosyncratic in an endearing way.
So, last Wednesday, my cousin Dave and I met at Fenway Park to see a game together. It was the first time I had been at Fenway since 2011 and the first time Dave and I saw a game there together since the 6thgame of the 1975 World Series which was the most famous game ever played at Fenway Park.
I had never seen the commemorative brick that we bought so I planned to look for it before the game. But, when the day came, I had forgotten all about it until just before game time when I suddenly remembered.
With the first pitch fast approaching, Dave and I hustled over to the Right Field concourse and found the section of the concourse where the brick had been placed. The only information we had was that it was in the “Dave Roberts” section, named for the Red Sox player whose stolen base in the 9thinning of game 4 of the 2004 League Championship Series was the turning point in a tremendous comeback against the New York Yankees. Later that month, the Red Sox won their first World Series since 2004.
So, there we were, searching madly for a brick on the ground. People were walking all over the section of bricks and I had to ask several people to move so that I could look where they had been standing. The sun was bright and the engravings were a bit worn so it was not easy to read them. Time was passing and the first pitch was approaching.
Suddenly, I looked down and was stunned.
There, right underneath my feet was a brick that stopped me cold. It wasn’t our brick but it was one placed in honor of a man named A. Arthur Giddon who was chosen to be an honorary bat boy for the Red Sox on his 100thbirthday. He had been a bat boy for the old Boston Braves in the 1920s and the Sox honored him by bringing him onto the field in tribute to his being a life long baseball fan.
It’s a beautiful story, written up in several newspapers including the New York Times. But what made it stunning was the fact that A. Arthur Giddon was my father’s first cousin. His mother and my maternal grandmother were sisters and while I never met his mother, my father’s Aunt Sadie, I had heard many stories about her including the fact that she used to walk, with her rabbi, to Braves Field on Saturday morning after services to watch the Braves play. It may be an apocryphal story but, as with all great family stories, it’s worth retelling.
As I took pictures of the Giddon brick, I started to back up a bit to get a better view and then turned around and saw, right under my feet, our plaque. It was only a few bricks away, on the same line, in the same section.
Family is family.
And members of a family have a unique bond which can transcend time and space.
I’ve had reason over the past year to see many of my cousins, some for the first time in many years and the feeling of standing with them, talking with them, hugging them and laughing with them has been so refreshing since we have no close family in Ann Arbor.
Even after many years, family is family.
A few years ago, my mother-in-law came to visit us in Ann Arbor for the first time since we adopted our dog, Sami. Sami loves everyone but the minute my mother-in-law walked in the house, Sami behaved like she had never done before, not only greeting her, but sitting beside her and looking right into her eyes.
Even our faithful pup knows that family is family.
No one on the Red Sox staff knew that the Giddons and the Dobrusins were mishpacha but I have to thank them for placing the bricks right near each other and for giving me a moment to reflect once again on the magic of family.
In memory, and even more so, in life, family is magical.