If you love baseball—the church of baseball—then don’t miss the Rev. Anne Gardner’s piece in today’s Boston Globe. In addition to being a correspondent for the paper and chaplain/director of community service at Endicott College, she’s a loyal Red Sox fan—and a staff member at Fenway Park.
For the past year, I have been part of the game-day operations staff at Fenway Park. I have loved baseball for as long as I can remember, introduced to the game in 1967 by my favorite aunt, a mercurial Red Sox fan who taught me to love my team even when it made my heart hurt.
Now, 40 years later, I am an ordained Episcopal minister, a vocation that shares some similarities with baseball. Both are journeys of faith, full of inexplicable false steps and glorious moments of transformation. How my aunt would have beamed if she knew I would return four decades later to the sanctuary of my youth, but this time, with those emblematic red socks stitched on my own jersey.
Her essay explores what it’s like being behind the scenes at Fenway—colleagues who have served the team since before she was born, the respectful boundary between the staff and athletes that allows her to see the team members authentically, a haunting insight into what happens when you become a “famous pariah” like Barry Bonds. But most compelling is her final insight into the truth of baseball:
At the end of each home game, most game-day workers take home $50 of after-tax earnings. We have often been on our feet for more than six hours, buffeted by the cold winds of April and the merciless heat of August. While most fans are clogging the Kenmore subway stop after the last out, we tend to stay a bit longer, shepherding the last few fans to the exits and closing up shop. Soon the lights dim to a faint glow as a hush falls over the park. This manufactured “dusk” feels almost as magical as the game itself.
As in most corporations, working for the Red Sox reveals plenty of politics, turf wars, and egos straining at the bit. But Red Sox baseball remains as pure and as compelling as in the days of Fisk, Conigliaro, Pesky, and Ruth. It is the game that brings us back over and over again. It is the game that has mysteriously become our elixir, a fountain of youth that reminds us of how it used to be, how we used to be, and how we hope to feel again.
October is coming. My heart can hardly stand it.
The whole thing is here.