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K.D. Van Brunt
I’ve been a Red Sox fan since I was in little league and idolized Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk. Even as a penniless university student, I still made it out to Fenway to watch the Sox play dozens and dozens of times. Keenly, I felt the curse of heartbreaking disappointment and loss. I survived 1978...barely. I died in 1986...though fortunately I was resurrected about a week later. So, after the disaster of 2003, I braced for more of the same in 2004, but miraculously the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the greatest comeback in history.
It was on to the World Series.
And I had to be there.
I spent money I didn’t have for a hotel and airfare to Boston. I maxed out credit cards to buy a ticket to Games 1 of the Series at Fenway. As bankruptcy circled overhead like a pack of vultures, I spent the day of Game 1 wandering aimlessly around the streets of Back Bay too nervous even to eat. Finally, four hours before the first pitch I went back to my hotel to take deep breaths, calm my nerves, and prepare for the greatest spectator event in the history of the world. Yes, a gross overstatement, but it didn’t feel that way at the time.
As the hotel elevator took me up to my room on the 14th floor of the Marriott Copley Place Hotel, I held my precious game ticket in my hand and stared down at the flimsy piece of paper. One tiny, cramped seat in the middle of the row in the right field bleachers. Yet I wouldn’t’ve traded it for anything less than the throne of God herself...maybe.
I’ve devoted many hours thinking back on what happened next. Honestly, I don’t really know. It sounds completely crazy, but I swear an invisible force—call it a spirit, djinn, poltergeist, or whatever paranormal name you want—grabbed my foot and caused me to stumble as I started to exit the elevator. My hand shot out to keep me from falling. The ticket fell from my grasp and fluttered down twisting like a whirligig as it descended in slo-mo to the floor.
Except, my ticket never hit the floor. It fell into that little slit of space between the elevator and the door frame. It was like pushing a letter through the slot of a mailbox. My ticket disappeared through the opening and down into the blackness of the elevator shaft.
People came from all around at my primal scream. Although I was now hyperventilating, I sputtered out an explanation of what happened. Two men and a woman, strangers all, escorted me back to the elevator and down to the concierge. They stayed with me, probably fearing imminent cardiac arrest. One guy joked he knew CPR. No one laughed.
The concierge’s face went ashen white when the four of us burbled out the horrifying story. He immediately called Joe. All of us were chewing our nails when Joe called back ten minutes later to say he had managed to track down Tim, the elevator guy, who was at a bar. His shift was over for the day, but Tim was dropping everything to race back downtown. The tension in the lobby was thicker than my mother’s dense meatloaf, which no human knife could cut.
“Go up to your room and wait,” the concierge solemnly told me. “Don’t despair. Let us do our jobs.”
One hour before game time, a guy in his forties knocked on my door. He wore slate gray overalls and had grease on his hands and smeared across his chest. I stared at him. A slow smile spread across his face as he held my ticket aloft. I hugged him shamelessly, and without the slightest inhibition. He refused the reward I offered (thank God, because that was my hot dog and beer money).
“That’s not necessary,” Tim said. “Just put that thing in a safe place this time, okay?”
Later, on that cold October night, I watched the Red Sox beat St. Louis 11-9.
With a loyalty that borders on religious zealotry, I am forever a loyal customer of Marriott.
And, of course . . . LETS GO RED SOX!
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