Rocks or the Sox?
Local fan torn between hometown loyalty, state pride in this year's Series
October 24, 2007
Craig — There was the 1981 season, when Boston-area native and then-Northeastern University freshman Val Pleasant spent warm summer nights perched on her dormitory fire escape, watching the lights and listening to the sounds of nearby Fenway Park.
There was the time she adopted the unique batting stance of her idol, Carlton Fisk, for the softball team. There were nights inside the ballpark; great, electric nights ripe with atmosphere and action so close it felt like you could reach out and touch it.
There are telephone conversations with her 70-year-old mother, who lives back east, that inevitably turn to the ball team.
And there’s the passion of her brother, who lists the 2004 World Series – a victory as triumphant for the faithful as the Boston Tea Party and one that snapped an 86-year jinx – as a memory right up there with the birth of his children.
The stories are true: There are baseball fans, and then there are Red Sox fans.
“This is tough,” said Pleasant, a local resident for 16 years and a physical therapist at Rehabilitation Services of Craig. “In some ways, I’m thinking, ‘What am I going to do?'”
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This year’s World Series represents a dilemma for Pleasant, who lived her first 28 years in Peabody, a small-town about 30 miles north of Boston. Raised in a Sox-loving, Irish Catholic family, Pleasant has been a dedicated fan of the team for as long as she can remember, a passenger on the franchise’s whirlwind ride of triumphs and follies.
Her reaction to famous (and infamous) Red Sox moments:
• On the 1986 Bill Buckner error in Game 6 that lead to a New York Mets rally and World Series comeback win: “(Grunt). That’s about all that could be put into print.”
• On New York Yankee Aaron Boone’s homerun in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, sending Boston home with a another loss to their bitter rival: another grunt.
• On the Sox historic comeback win against the Yankees a year later in the ALCS: “Always have faith.”
• On breaking through and winning the Series against the Cardinals three years ago: “Excited. Excited for the Sox. With all they’d been through, it was pretty cool to watch. I don’t even know the word for it.”
On playing the Rockies, a team she’s adopted of sorts while in Colorado, this year: “You gotta go with what you grew up with,” she said. “Once you’re a Red Sox fan, you gotta go with the Sox. : But, it’s going to be different. If they are going to lose, they might as well lose to the Rockies.
“If they lose to the Yankees, you throw stuff at the television and walk away snarling. If the Rockies win it, I’ll still be happy.”
Pleasant’s fandom recently carried over into a brief stay in the hospital, where she had minor surgery. She took her Red Sox visor to the hospital, wore it during games and revolved her medication schedule around Sox contests against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
She wanted to make sure she was awake to watch, she said. As a backup, she had her mother call each night around game time to make sure she was awake.
Pleasant’s visor caught the eye of a hospital employee, who also was from Massachusetts.
“It was like instant bonding,” Pleasant said. “It was like, ‘You’re watching the game, right?'”
Pleasant may not find so many well wishes for her team at home, however.
This year, the Pleasant home will be a house divided. While hometown allegiance dictates Val root for the Sox, her husband, Jeff, and sons Cody, 7, and Luke, 5, will be rooting for the Rockies.
They’re also trying to get tickets for the Series when it comes to Denver, but like thousands of others, aren’t having much luck. She visited a Red Sox Web site and found available tickets – at $3,210 each.
With that price, and the unsettling prospect of wearing Red Sox gear into a championship game at Coors Field, Pleasant is thinking the games may best be observed at home.
As far as predictions go, Pleasant views the Red Sox winning their second World Series in four years as a difficult task. The Rockies are on a roll, she said, and the Sox just finished a seven-game series against the Indians.
“The Rockies are going to be tough,” Pleasant said. “Maybe Sox in five.”
• Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.