How a Red Sox Fan Got Religion

I read the news of Keith Foulke's retirement the other day with a wistful feeling. He will forever be remembered by me as the guy who made "THE out." When I heard the news, I began thinking back to those magical, sleep deprived days at the tail end of October, 2004.

Since today is Sunday, I spent about an hour and a half at church this morning; 1 hour for Mass and a half hour munching bagels and sipping coffee in the church basement afterwards. Like many Catholics, I was at one point in my life reluctant to go to Church-I viewed it as a chore or obligation. That all changed on October 17, 2004. You see on October 16, 2004 the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox in game three of the American League Championship Series. Actually, they destroyed them 19 to 8 (and the game wasn't as close as the score indicates). There was no joy in Red Sox Nation on Sunday October 17, 2004. The general mood was one of despair and resignation to the fact that our Sox were breaking our hearts once again. My then 10 year old son kept asking me on the way to church that morning if it was at all possible for the Sox to come back and win it-my answer was yes, it's possible but not probable. I suggested we all pray extra hard for the Red Sox.

I don't know if I was especially reflective or morose, but the Gospel that morning was from Exodus 17 Water From The Rock:

Exodus 17: 8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.


Father G. read the Gospel and proceded with his usual interpretations. He noted that in order for the Israelites to defeat the Amalekites, Moses needed to keep his arms raised to preserve victory. Persistence is what allowed Moses to keep his arms raised. He needed to be persistent in the face of his weariness and he required assistance to maintain his persistence. He likened this to being a faithful Catholic in modern times: we need to be persistent in our faith, even when things may appear hopeless around us. I leaned over to my son and whispered in his ear "that's a lot like being a Red Sox fan." We said our silent prayers and mine most definately included a prayer for the Red Sox. I even threw some extra money into the collection basket that morning.

We all know that God is a Red Sox Fan and what happened in the improbable week and a half after that: Dave Roberts' steal, Big Papi, Johnny (Jesus) Damon, The Bloody Sock, and "swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke, he has it, he underhands to first and the Boston Red Sox are World Champions!" We'll miss you Keith-we couldn't have done it without you and you should have been MVP of the 2004 World Series. I don't care what you did after that night on October 27 of 2004. In your own way, you gave this Sox fan a shot of religion.

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