When I was growing up in the 1970s my father was an avid Red Sox fan. Dad grew up in the Great Depression and still remembered the last great Red Sox team in ‘46. Whenever I mentioned “Williams, Doer or Pesky,” his eyes would light up. He once shared with me that he had a baseball signed with all the Red Sox greats that year who went on to the World Series against the mighty St. Louis Cardinals. Dad was proud that the '46 Sox were American League champions! The Red Sox were part of his blood.
I remember many Sunday afternoons when Dad would have a transistor radio outside listening to his favorite nine. I can remember hearing Ken Coleman calling the plays and the crack of the bat from Jim Rice. Our television could only get a few stations. The only sports team that was on our TV was the Toronto Blue Jays. And I could get a little glimpse of the Jays after my dad would spend a few minutes atop our trailer twisting our TV antenna in multiple positions to get a clear picture.
I became a fast fan of the Blue Jays in 1977. It was their inaugural year. It never bothered me that the Jays would finish in last place year after year. I just loved them! Unconditionally! They were my team. While every other kid in Calais (as well as my father) wore a Red Sox hat, I wore a Blue Jays hat, thanks to my dad, who bought me one after his trip to Boston. I think I wore it out.
I wore my Blue Jays hat with pride in school. I was the only Blue Jays fan in Calais. In a sea of red, I wore the blue. Imagine having a school picture with the boys all wearing Red Sox hats while I was the lone outlier, wearing my beloved “bird” on my head.
That period in my childhood reminds me of what it means to be different, an
outlier, to not march in sync with everyone else. Sometimes, we are meant to
take a different path... or maybe just wear a hat different from others.
My dedication to the Blue Jays helped me learn what it means to be loyal. My dad was loyal to his Red Sox whether they won or lost, and I, too, was learning what it means to be loyal – even if it were to something else. I was cut from a different cloth.
It wasn’t until the Blue Jays entered their 25th year of existence that they finally won a World Series. Ironically, I was in seminary that year, just beginning to pastor a small student church. The Jays had finally grown up to be quite a powerhouse in the American League East, and I was just beginning my own journey, learning how to preach and still feeling like a kid at heart.
Life soon got in the way of childhood obsessions as love of God and sharing that love became my passion. After graduating from seminary and after pastoring for 30 years, I happened upon a new Blue Jays hat in a “lids” store in New Brunswick, Canada. My new hat is special, because it reminds me of sunny days outdoors with my father as we listened to the radio, comradery with the boys at school as we played our childhood games, and discovering my own, unique path as I became an adult.