2099, KENMORE SQUARE, BOSTON –
It’s the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2099 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals, and Matthew, 4, starts to doze off. He’s not making it to the ninth.
So his father, Dom, carries him upstairs in their Kenmore Square apartment, puts him under his Red Sox comforter and bed sheets, and turns off the lights.
“Dad?” Matthew says as his father’s about to walk out of his room.
“Yes, Matthew?” his father replies.
“Can you tell me the Red Sox bedtime story?”
“The one about the World Champions of 2013?” Matthew’s dad asks. Matthew nods his head.
“OK. But I really need to get back to the game, Matthew.”
Dom had his reasons. It has been 86 years since the Red Sox last won the World Series — in 2013. Dom has never seen it happen. 2067. 2075. 2086. The Red Sox had been in all of those World Series, each of them, though, ending in heartache.
Yawkey Way was on edge. Generations of Sox fans have come and gone, each without ever seeing a celebration like they had in 2013 in and outside of the old Fenway Park, built at the site of the new, state-of-the-art Fenway II.
“There once was a baseball team in the year 2013 called the Red Sox,” Dom begins as he sits on Matthew’s bed and flips up a Red Sox-labeled baseball. “This was a team that finished in last place the year before, and all those in Baseball Land thought they would not be much better in 2013.”
“But these Red Sox were not believing it. They worked very hard from Day 1 and became the bestest of friends. They did everything together. They even grew beards together for fun – long and crazy beards: Jonny had one, Mike, David, Jacoby…even the Boston fans who came to the game wore fake beards to try to be like them. It looked like Halloween every day at Fenway Park, where they Red Sox played their games.”
“How long were the beards?” Matthew interjects.
“Oh, they were long,” says Dom, showing Matthew a picture of Mike Napoli from his Wikipedia page that he had been reading from.
“They had many great players, and pitchers like Jon, Clay, Koji and Brandon did wonderful.”
“But the leader of their team was a man they called Big Papi. He was a big man with a big heart and he could hit the ball very far – waaaaaay over the fence.”
“Many say Big Papi – whose real name is David Ortiz – was one of the best players to ever play baseball. The baseball guys give him a special prize for playing so well in the 2013 World Series.”
“Candy?” Matthew asks with a last gasp before he’s about to fall asleep.
“Not quite,” his dad replies. “They gave him a nice trophy for doing a great job.”
“The Red Sox beat the Cardinals to win the World Series, and people dance in the streets for hours and hours. Even Big Papi dances for a long time. And instead of shaking hands, these Red Sox shake each other’s beards! This is the third time they won the championship in nine years. And all were happy on Yawkey Way.”
Dom knew Matthew had to get to bed soon.
“OK, close your eyes, Matthew. Time to sleep.”
“But how will I know if they win tonight?”
“If this baseball is in your bed when you wake up,” Dom says, showing him the baseball he had flipped up and down during the story, “they won.”
The next morning, Matthew wakes up and doesn’t see the baseball. Something, though, is bothering his back. He rolls over on the bed. It’s the baseball. Matthew grabs it and runs downstairs. At the foot of the stairs blares the headline from the Yawkey Way Report, “SOX WIN! SOX WIN! First time in 86 years!”
Matthew runs to the kitchen to his father, who is clutching pictures of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“This World Series,” his dad says, “is for them. They never saw this happen, Matthew. Your great-great grandfather Dom did, though. In fact, he saw three of them. I wonder what it was like back then, to watch three World Series championships in such a short time. 2004. 2007. 2013. Boston must have been the capital of the baseball world, huh?”
“Yep,” Matthew says. “Can I have some breakfast?”
Dom gives Matthew a big bear hug as the sounds of jubilation outside rule the Boston streets, just like it did 86 years earlier in 2013 when a man named Big Papi got the party started and the great-great grandfather of young Matthew and thousands of other Red Sox fans watched with joy.
“I wonder,” Dom tells Matthew, “if those fans like your great-great grandfather knew just how lucky they were.”