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September 6, 2019

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

by Hannah Lavoie

Oh, hi! My name is Hannah. That’s probably how I should start this. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a Boston Red Sox fan. So much of my life has revolved around the Sox with way too many memories to write about here. I’m not really sure to begin.

I was born and raised in Connecticut, a state with divided sports alliances. My Dad helped me become a Red Sox fan after he gave me my first jersey, Nomar Garciaparra, when I was 9 years old. For a couple of years, my sister Sarah and Dad would go to a game at Fenway with one of her friends from softball and their Dad. They would sit third row on the third base side – I was so jealous! As a tradition, my Dad and I would also go to a game together too. The first time my Dad and I went to Fenway together (my second time), I was chosen to say, “Play Ball!” before the game behind home plate. I stole some dirt from the field, which they ultimately replaced a season or so later. I met Red Sox owner John Henry right before my big moment, something 11 year old me didn’t realize was a big deal.

Hannah at her second game at Fenway with the pre-game “Play Ball!”

I’ve been a dedicated Red Sox fan ever since. In middle school, I would wake every morning around 7 AM to watch NESN (New England Sports Network) to catch up on (or re-watch, let’s be real) Red Sox highlights from the night before. I will never forget waking up the day after Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. I ran downstairs watching NESN to see the outcome. I cried in the bathroom before going to school. My homeroom teacher at the time was friends with Gary Sheffield and I did NOT want to hear it from her. And I’ve vehemently disliked Aaron Boone ever since.

In the Summer of 2004, I woke my parents up bawling my eyes out after I discovered Nomar was traded to the Cubs. They thought one of my bunnies had died, that’s how serious I was. I’ve celebrated my 13th birthday and my high school graduation at Red Sox games. I’ve witnessed a Pedro Martinez complete game, Manny Ramirez hitting a home run OVER the light tower of the Green Monster, walk-off wins and disappointing losses. My Yahtzee team name in 2003 was the “Red Sock’s”. I’m still mad at myself for my terrible grammar.

During my junior year of high school, I dressed up as Jonathan Papelbon for Halloween and played “Shipping Off to Boston” as I walked through the halls between classes. I even wrote a paper on Papelbon that same year and gave him a copy when I met him in 2010. When I moved to Nashville for college, I entered an unknown baseball territory (Braves? Cubs? Cardinals?). That was one of the first times I was called a “Yankee”, to which my response was, “Um, no. I’m actually a Red Sox fan.” I definitely missed the mark on that.

In 2013, Sarah and I, along with 2 other friends (shoutout to Lauren and B’Gail) road-tripped from Nashville to St. Louis to witness Game 5 which ultimately led to the Sox winning the World Series in Boston for the first time in over 90 years. I turn into a bit of a lunatic during October, especially this past 2018 season. I ate WAY too many fried pickles and chicken wings as we watched the Red Sox SMOKE the competition to their 4th World Series title in 15 seasons.

Hannah (left) and Sarah (right) in St. Louis at the 2013 World Series.

I don’t know if there was an exact thing or “moment” about the Red Sox or baseball drew me in, it just made sense to me and clicked. I love the atmosphere of a ballpark. I love knowing that in a stadium full of 40,000 people all of us are there for a common reason.

Community is one of my favorite things in life. As an extrovert, I love the community that naturally abounds in sports. You can go from making small talk with a stranger next to you, to high-fiving and hugging them after a walk-off home run. This has also begun to happen digitally. It wasn’t until 2014 or so that I began to discover Red Sox Twitter and soon enough, Jared Carrabis. Jared frequently posts live tweets during games and fun game summaries when the Sox win (#goldbottles). He, along with Steve Perrault and Coley Mick (two more of my faves on Twitter) currently host a Red Sox podcast with Barstool Sports, Section 10. It has become a big part of my day-to-day. I am able to have a little glimpse of home each episode. Even when I feel sad, homesick or anxious, this podcast always makes my day a little bit brighter. On Twitter, I’m able to laugh and relate to so many people who love the Sox just as much as I do.

Almost all of our family vacations growing included the phrase, “..and the Red Sox will be in town so we’re going to a game.” Growing up we traveled to multiple stadiums and new cities to watch our boys play. When Sarah and I heard about the London Series this past June, we had to go. We booked our flights and didn’t look back. After spending a few lovely days in the Cotswolds (thank you Aunt Ruth and Uncle Legard!), we headed to London to witness the first MLB games ever played in Europe and would you know, it was against the Yankees!

The Lavoie Family on one of their many Red Sox adventures.

Like I’ve mentioned throughout this post, baseball brings out a very emotional side of me. The amount of joy I felt walking towards the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on the most perfect June day was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. Seeing our players names and photos everywhere—it felt like I was home. The stadium opened 4 hours prior to game time, which gave the opportunity to watch both batting practices and take in the atmosphere. There were a few Boston/New York style bars and plenty of fans from all teams there. The game itself as well as the series was disappointing, but it was an experience I willnever forget. Hearing the accents, answering basic baseball questions to the locals sitting around us, observing the British National Anthem were moments I will always treasure. Hearing “Shipping Up to Boston” prior to the bottom of the 9th and then “New York, New York” at the conclusion was one of the weirdest moments I’ve experienced.

One of the guys sitting next to me asked, “They play so many games a year, why do you care so much about all of them?” It was something I had never thought about before. And I told him this, “It’s what I’ve always known. At the end of the day, every game counts towards October. You can be present, make new friends, or possibly see something never done before. I’ve never known not to love it.”

Baseball is home to me. I love my family and my friends but I also really love my Red Sox. And when I get to watch them play, no matter whether in Boston, London or another ballpark around the country, I know that’s where I belong. 

September 6, 2019

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