Saw the immortal ALCS game in real time. Pops, a long-suffering Boston-born Sox fan, had seen this movie before (and would see it again in a fashion even his father wouldn’t fathom), and got up to fire up the grill for dinner before the epic 9th inning. I kept the faith, but didn’t call him inside until Baylor hit his blast. After that I said “You better get in here!” but, being an adult, and having seen this movie before, he was skeptical. I don’t think many fans can truly appreciate the real roller-coaster sports is capable of taking you on, but hardcore Sox fans, especially those of us who were around, then, “get” it like few others can. I mean, to go from the high of Hendu’s impossible shot to the ball dribbling between Buckner’s legs is like a lifetime of emotional extremes in two moments, only weeks apart. (Not to mention history repeating itself as Farce-turned-Miracle, a la ’03/’04.)
And as sorry as I felt for myself, for my father, for Sox fans, for the unfairly maligned Bill Buckner, and (ahem) would-be-MVP Hurst, I thought, even as a teenager: Holy shit, how do you go from hitting 2 of the 3 biggest HRs in Sox history and come THAT close only to have it ripped away from you. Hero for life, highlight reel for eternity, etc. It was enough to make a 16 year old think God was not only a sadistic son of a bitch, but a Yankee fan (the horror). I felt genuinely bad for Hendu, who deserved better. And someone else said something similar upthread, but while I detested those A’s teams in the late ’80s, I simply couldn’t hate Henderson. Wasn’t possible. I was happy he got his ring. And yes, I imitated that inimitable HR trot for many moons after.