I am a big sports fan and this week has been a treat.
The Celtics just finished a tremendous first round series with a ten point win last night. Every aspect of the series had a spectacular nature. Ben Gordon made shot after shot. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Brian Scalabrine of all people, were clutch. A steal at the end of Game six by Joakim Noah and a block or two by Derrick Rose were among some of the finest plays I have ever seen made against the Celtics in a playoff series. It was edge of your seat stuff all the way through.
I have seen some historic games and been able to attend some memorable sports occasions. In September of 1978 I was at the last regular season game of the year for the Red Sox when Luis Tiant defeated the Blue Jays with a three hitter while the Indians defeated the Yankees in Cleveland. For the profound total of $42.00 I was able to run downstairs to get 5 tickets to the playoff game the next day - the Bucky Dent game. The idiotic baserunning of Rick Burleson late in that game infuriates me to this day; Pinella never saw the ball Remy hit and Burleson stopped at second anyway. We were in right field - right in line with the play - there was no way Pinella was ever going to catch it.
I was also able to go to Yastrezmski's induction to the Hall of Fame. The people of Cooperstown welcomed us and I get chills remembering the introduction of Ted Williams that day. I did not know that all the living members of the Hall are invited to each induction and that those who attend get introduced. We had arrived at the very last minute and were cut off in the crowd from the front of the podium. Nonetheless, when the introduction began, "From San Diego, California ..." I got this rush of adrenaline - I was within in 100 yards of the Greatest Hitter who ever lived. Later, my brother and I went to the Mother's day game when Ted Williams finally tipped his hat to the crowd in Boston.
Larry Bird Night was a last minute invitation for an astounding event. The AFC champtionship game against the Jaguars saw me coming out of a 24 hour flu that had cleaned my clock. James Taylor was just finishing the National Anthem when the Air Force flyover happened, seemingly 8 feet over our heads. Thrilling moment. A Celtics game against the Pistons that I get reminded of when I walk by the kiosk in the mall with the panoramic sports photos. A bird got into the Garden that day and the Celtics made this amazing comeback. There were all sorts of visitors in the crowd, Shaquille O'Neal was there right before he was drafted. In the panorama you can see my brother and I sitting over the runway that was used to take the Bruins to their locker room way back when. We are blurry but we were there.
Bo Jackson hitting a homerun off the despicable Wes Gardner at Fenway Park on Patriots Day. The wind was so fierce that no other ball made it past second base. I was viciously wind burned sitting behind home plate but he crushed it to deep right center. Bledsoe throwing 70 passes against the Vikings in that unlikely comeback. Kevin Turner in the corner of the endzone for the winning touchdown. The longer I sit here the more that come back to me.
The Celtics Bulls series had me thinking of these opportunities. All of them bring back a spirit of celebration after all this time - even those that at the time had worn me out. I was a long time getting over the Bucky Dent game but now I am glad to have the story, glad to have had the chance to be a part of something you might see on ESPN classic, glad to have those particular ticket stubs.