St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Sox, cries and audiotape

Who would have thought to record reactions to the Boston Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series? My wife.

By MIKE WILSON
Published October 27, 2005


  photo
[Times illustration: Charlos Gray]
Click here to hear the audio

When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series one year ago today, ending 86 years of hellish frustration, their fans celebrated with the kind of abandon you'd associate with the advent of world peace or the return of the Messiah, to name some events that actually seemed more likely than a Boston championship.

The seismic release of tension in the red, white and blue dens of Red Sox Nation is largely lost to history. Who would have thought to record these spontaneous and, in retrospect, embarrassing displays of lunacy?

Answer: the wife of the author of this article.

Last Oct. 27, she stealthily placed a microcassette recorder in the room where the author was watching what turned out to be the final game of the series between the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. He did not know that its little wheels were turning as Edgar Renteria made the final out and he, well, did what he did.

She told him about the audiotape a few days later. It is being made public now to commemorate that sacred day and because Chicago White Sox fans may soon experience a similar ecstasy (as this is written on Wednesday, the Sox are on the brink of sweeping the series from the Houston Astros).

In describing the recording, the author wishes to avoid the use of the first person in hopes of retaining whatever dignity he has left after you read this account or listen to the tape online. From here on, then, he will refer to himself only as Big Papi.

Big Papi and his 10-year-old son, Little Papi, were watching the game in the family room when Mrs. Papi secretly set the tape recorder on a nearby filing cabinet. The first salient moment occurs when Big Papi claps his hands and says, "No baserunners," apparently believing that Red Sox pitcher Keith Foulke will hear him 850 miles away in St. Louis and prevent any more Cardinals from reaching base.

Apparently Foulke did. Renteria grounded out, ending the game.

The contents of the tape after that can be divided into three parts.

1. Nirvana - or, as Webster's describes it, "the final beatitude that transcends suffering." Big Papi, a 43-year-old man with a mortgage and two other children who were not being subjected to this moment, screams like a junior high cheerleader. He then hollers "Yeah! Yeah!," and finishes with this insight: "We won!"

Simultaneously, Little Papi shrieks at hearing-loss volume, perhaps in delight, perhaps in astonishment at the behavior of his father. Part 1, about 13 seconds long, ends with Mrs. Papi declaring, "That's so awesome!"

So nice for Big Papi that she loves the Sox. He'd hate to have to choose between them.

2. The Hilarity. For 10 seconds, the principals laugh as if they have just heard the best joke ever told. This is the most fun human beings have ever had. Big Papi, no longer fully in control of his musculature, folds to the floor (not shown on audiotape). He declares, still cracking up, "That is so great! Oh, yes!"

Mrs. Papi, in a reference to the last time any Sox fan felt this way, whimpers, "Oh, my God! 1918!"

3. The, Um, Recovery. Twenty seconds or so. Mrs. Papi asks, "Don't you feel like you're in a dream?" Evidently. Big Papi, lying on the floor now, moans, "Oh. . . . Oh. . . . Oh my God. . . . Oh."

Looking back, he could not have anticipated the warm sense of relief he would experience upon consummating the championship. After almost nine decades, he shouldn't have been surprised.

-- Mike Wilson can be reached at 727 892-2924 or mike@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 26, 2005, 12:56:01]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT