I found this article in America’s oldest Catholic newspaper interesting. It was written by Daniel Avila, the Associate Director for Public Policy of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference:
My dad came to visit this summer and we spent an afternoon at Fenway Park in Boston, the home of the Boston Red Sox. The team was on a road trip and so we decided to take the official tour of the ballpark. Not being natives of Red Sox Nation, we were unaware of, but learned on the tour, the story behind the lone red seat in the right field bleacher section.
Our guide, a young woman who clearly loved baseball and the home team, explained that the red seat, surrounded by rows of green, marked the spot where the longest home run ever hit at Fenway landed. It was smacked by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946 during the second inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers. The homer measured 502 feet from the plate.
The location, then a spot on an old-fashioned bleacher, was not empty at the time, our guide continued, but was occupied by Joseph A. Boucher, who got bonked in the head by the baseball. He was wearing a straw hat, for the day was sunny, and may have been snoozing when Williams came to bat. Balls are rarely hit to that section of the stands, so it was greatly surprising to have a ball come in that direction, let alone that far.
With screams all around him, Boucher may have awakened in time to start searching for the ball, which would have been difficult to spot because of the sun. Or he may have continued to snooze. The story is not clear on this point according to our guide. Nonetheless, the ball punched a hole in Boucher’s hat, cracked his noggin, and bounced several rows higher. Boucher went for medical aid, but returned in the later innings to watch the rest of the game.
And now, remarked our guide in the vein of radio commentator Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story. Reporters found out that Boucher, a construction engineer, was in town on business from Albany, N.Y. So the inevitable question came up, our guide informed us. Was this guy a Yankees fan?
Well, it turned out he was, but because his business required frequent trips to Boston, he often took in Red Sox games. However, our guide told us, Boucher then announced that he finally had some sense knocked into him, and from that day forward became a devoted fan, exclusively, of the Red Sox. As a result of his red seat conversion, many of his family became diehard fans too.
The political news this summer has covered another conversion story, involving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
You should read the whole article here, but here’s the kicker:
Red Sox fans in 1946 should have rejoiced at the news of a newly converted, former Yankees fan, notwithstanding the inexplicable (to Red Sox fans) allegiance that Joseph A. Boucher once gave to the Bronx Bombers. Red seat conversions can happen early or late, in the most unlikely of circumstances and to the most unlikely of persons. Based on this reality and on past experience, I’m taking Mitt Romney at his word and say welcome.