October 20, 2016

The first time I heard that song

Thursday, July 6th, 1984.  I was in Fenway Park, up in the cheap bleacher seats by the wall, a row or two behind a couple of insanely devoted fans.  These guys - one thin and quiet, the other fat and loud - were there for every game, scoring it on professional pads and punctuating the play with various remarks. The fat guy was LOUD, and he got his money's worth:
  • One night the Blue Jays were in town with their not-very-menacing 3rd baseman Rance Mulliniks and he screamed "IN YOUR PANTS RANCE!" 
We all feared him

  • There was a big sign for a shoe store with the tag line "Where did you get those shoes?"  One night Tony Armas was playing deep in center and the guy screams "TONY WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE SHOES".  Armas pointed at Rice in left.  High fives all around.
  • Whenever Dwight Evans came to bat, he'd scream "DEWEY! DEWEY! DEWEYYYYY!"  One night he almost hyperventilated and fell over while doing this, which made it even more special.
  • When Wade Boggs would come up he'd scream "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE!"
  • He hated Bob Stanley, a fairly ordinary reliever who often came into games and doused the flames with kerosene.  When Ralph Houk brought Stanley in a big game late in the year I was over in the grandstand, and could hear this guy's "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" with perfect clarity.  His concerns were well-founded - Stanley got crushed and the Sox lost.
So on July 6th the Sox started a new guy against Chicago, big rookie right-hander they'd brought up named Clemens.  We hadn't seen a lot of him, but it was obvious he had great stuff, and in this game he was just a monster.

The White Sox had a guy named Ron Kittle, who led the league in strikeouts the year before, and would lead in At-Bats per hit in both 1983 and 1984.  Clemens was throwing smoke with control, and Kittle was not being selective.  When he came up with one out and one on in the top of the 9th he'd already struck out three times.  The count went against him quickly, and with two strikes on him, the fat guy started singing:


And maybe it was my imagination, but as the overmatched Kittle went down in flames for the fourth time that day I thought I heard everyone singing it, the whole crowd and the angels in Heaven.  It was the rightest thing I'd ever heard.  

Then Squires struck out and the game was over.  I went out into the summer night, skipped the Green Line crowds, started the long walk home.


[Addendum:  I did not know this until I looked it up, but the Fat Guy surely did, because he seemed to know everything.  From Wikipedia:  "In 1977, Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust began playing the song when White Sox sluggers knocked out the opposing pitcher. The fans would sing and a sports ritual was born."]


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