November 20, 2018
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Red Sox Winning Brings Memories of Dad

Red Sox win! Red Sox win!

Yep, my lifelong favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, just won the 2018 World Series by defeating another storied franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to bring Red Sox Nation its ninth World Championship (and fourth in 15 years). It’s been a good spring, summer, and fall following my club, which is now being touted as one of the best teams of all time.

Watching Boston excel throughout the season, then blaze through the playoffs, has been a blast. The best part, however, has little to do with hitting, pitching, and fielding. The best part of it all has been the connection to my father.

I first started following major league baseball when I was a little kid in the mid-to-late 1950s. Of course, back then, you only had one televised contest per week—The Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon. (May be another column one day about watching Dizzy Dean announce those games.) Therefore, to learn about the big leagues, you had to read the newspaper sports pages, listen to the radio, and, best of all, if you were lucky, talk to your father and other relatives about the game.

My dad, Max Lucas, was a big sports fan in his own right, and is undoubtedly the main reason that I became a sports guy myself. From an early age, he would take me to all the Pascagoula High games, mostly football but also baseball and basketball. It was a magical time for me, sitting next to my beloved father and doing something we both enjoyed.

When it came to major league baseball, my father’s favorite team (and that of my uncle Burt Wilburn’s) was the Boston Red Sox. They just liked the Sox period, and they told me that the great Boston outfielder Ted Williams was the best hitter who ever lived (they were right on Ted, to this very day). Hey, I was hooked. What better way to learn something than to follow your father’s lead.

So, through the years, I have been a fervent Red Sox follower. Those first years, the team was average, but had stars like Ted, Jackie Jensen, and Dick “The Monster” Radatz. Then, in 1967, when I was in college, the Red Sox, led by the great Carl Yastrzemski, broke through and won the American League pennant, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the World Series.

In 1975, when I was just starting my career back in Pascagoula, the Sox won the AL pennant again, but in one of the most famous World Series ever, lost to the Cincinnati Reds, again in the maximum seven games. Then came 1986 (had kids of my own by then), when a terrific Red Sox team, led by Roger Clemens and Jim Rice, steamrolled the American League, heading to the World Series to face the New York Mets. Leading three games to two, with two outs in the ninth inning, an egregious error led to a Mets win, and the New Yorkers won the next night to take the Series. Three World Series over 20 years, three excruciating losses.

Finally, in 2004, it happened. The Curse of the Bambino was broken, as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals to win the franchise’s first World Series in 86 years. My two sons were in college by then, and we had long talks on the phone after that momentous occasion, as they knew how much it meant to me (and would have to their grandfather).

Since the Curse was broken, the Red Sox have become one of the dominant franchises in baseball. Boston has added World Championships in 2007, 2013, and now 2018. I’ve loved the Red Sox through thick and thin, and, although sometimes it was tough, nowadays it’s pretty dang sweet.

That last point is a lesson I learned from my father. He always taught me that if you’re going to start something, see it through and do it right.

Thanks, Daddy, for that and so much more. I know you’re up there now, looking down on me and smiling about another Boston championship. I love you, and Go Sox.

(Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].)

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