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Yankee Humor | A Field Guide to Red Sox Nation

Yankee Humor | A Field Guide to Red Sox Nation
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From Caribou, Maine, to somewhere south of Hartford, there’s only one big-league ball team for New England … but a wide assortment of characters who love them. They call themselves Red Sox Nation.

Photo/Art by Mark Brewer
The Numbers Nerd

A born statistician, this fan has his own hand-written notes on every game going back to the 1960s. Awakened from a sound sleep, he can tell you in which year the Sox had their worst win/loss record (1932), who the team’s top player was in 1952 (Billy Goodman), and how many home runs Carl Yastrzemski hit in 1967 (44). He cannot, however, remember his wedding anniversary, the name of his wife’s best friend, or that he was supposed to bring home toilet paper.

The Pink Hat

A recent immigrant to the Nation, the newbie can be heard asking questions such as “Why is it a strike if they don’t actually hit the ball?” Unaware that Babe Ruth is anything besides a candy bar, newbies tend to be more interested in each other than anything happening on the field. They can usually be seen talking on their cell phones while waving madly at the camera. Don’t bother asking them the score.

The Old-Timer

A fan since the Wilson administration, this diehard resents the newbies who jumped on the bandwagon after the 2004 World Series, because “they don’t know what we went through!” He hates the electronic scoreboard and the pink hats, and don’t get him started about “Sweet Caroline.” Descended from a long line of Puritans, he’s really happy only when miserable and believes that hardship builds character. Following the euphoria of the 2013 World Series victory, he went into a funk for several weeks.
The Superstitious Ritualist

Batting, pitching, and fielding are all well and good, but this once-slender devotee is convinced that the Red Sox’ fortunes depend on his sitting in the same seat and eating chocolate doughnuts, as he was when Carlton Fisk waved the ball into fair territory in the 1975 Series. Thanks to him, the Sox have since broken the curse and won three World Series. Of course, he now weighs as much as two Big Papis.

The Historian

The Cliff Clavin of fans, this guy knows an astonishing mass of obscure facts and history about the Sox, including the team’s early nicknames (Boston Americans, Plymouth Rocks, Pilgrims, Beaneaters), which players’ numbers have been retired (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14, 27, 42), the original seating capacity of Fenway Park (35,000), and the year the Coke bottles were added over the Green Monster (1997, the last year he had a date willing to go out with him more than once).

The Old Acquaintance

This guy was on the Charlestown, New Hampshire, high-school ball team with Carlton Fisk, a fact that he works into every conversation, including those with checkout cashiers, wrong-number callers,
and random strangers on the street. He doesn’t mention that he spent his entire high-school career
in the dugout, and Fisk wouldn’t know him from Miley Cyrus.

The Eternally Happy Fan

A lifelong fan, he supported the Olde Towne team through heartaches, bad trades, and Cinderella seasons. Sadly, he went to his reward before the curse was broken. But these days, somewhere in heaven, this dearly departed Red Sox rooter is truly and finally resting in peace.
The Backseat Coach

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Ken Sheldon


Ken Sheldon


Humorist Ken Sheldon is a lifelong resident of New England, except for two brief stints when he lost his way and lived in California. (He has pretty much recovered.) His humor column “Only in New England” appears in every issue of Yankee Magazine. He is the author of "Welcome to Frost Heaves,” a humorous collection of stories from “the most under-appreciated town in New Hampshire,” written as Fred Marple, the unofficial spokesman for Frost Heaves. As Fred Marple, Ken has appeared at church basements, town halls, and the homes of most of his friends, usually right around dinner time. He would love to hear from you with your tales of life in New England, although being a true Yankee, it may be awhile before he gets back to you. You can email Ken at
Updated Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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