Why do I love baseball and the Red Sox so much? It was my grandfather's love of the game rubbing off on me and many others in the family. Many of my fondest memories regarding baseball involve him, from softball leagues to watching the Sox together to him playing in those shoes.
I know Great Grampy Basford (Stanley Sr) was a baseball fan but I believe I'm safe in saying Stanley Jr was the bigger fan and the reason this family today is littered with diehard Red Sox fans. It never failed when I visited Gram and Gramp as a child and then when I returned home from the service that, if there was a Sox game on TV, they'd be watching it, with the sound muted and the radio play-by-play on, or they'd be listening to the game on the radio if it wasn't televised.
What a memory he had for the stats and history of the Sox and Major League Baseball in general (something I inherited but lost somewhere in middle age). I remember going up to the farm and checking over the box scores with him. You could watch a game with him and he'd tell you the strategies that were being deployed; he'd tell you what he thought of trades with great support and wisdom; he'd tell you that such and such a player reminded him of someone from the past. He kept reference books around on the game and would often refer to them. I learned much about the strategy and history of the game from him (yes, from you too, Wayne, Bruce and Mom!), as well as the right and wrong way to play the game. I can remember many times having a sore hand playing toss with him, more often than not him without a glove, just catching with those catcher's mits he called hands.
He loved to play the game and did at an age much older than I am now, bad knees and all. When I was too old for Babe Ruth, there were no American Legion teams in the area to play on. So he helped put together a team for he and I to play on in that raggamuffin softball league of the late '70's in Pittsfield. The list of names of the players on that team would make you laugh. Suffice to say me at 17-18 and him almost 60 were the 2 best players, at least of those sober, on that team, sponsored by Bantam Bro's. Of course Gram came to the games and then we'd go get an ice cream afterwards. (Which makes me think of something. Remind me to tell about catching "the breakfast express" to school when I missed the bus)
No baseball fan more deserved to see his team finally win the World Series than he, and I'm so thankful he got to see that. He and Gram, along with Bruce, took me to my very first game at Fenway Park. I don't remember much about that now as I was about 9 years old (did we determine that was 1970 or '71? and who were they playing?), but I certainly recall how excited I was to be going and how much it meant to me that they wanted to take me. I was able to return the favor in a small way many years later. In Sept of 1987 when he and Gram visited us (and Uncle Hershel) while we were living near San Diego, I took them to a Padre game at Jack Murphy Stadium, a game in which the SF Giants clinched the Division Title. That's one of my favorite ticket stubs in my collection.
So now you know where I got most of my love of the game, but can someone older than I tell me whether he always wore those semi-dress shoes when he played even before my time?