Guest contributor Steven Nichols is a Red Sox supporter who, unlike many others, actually lives on the East Coast. Not to mention, he has one of the best baseball-related twitter handles you’ll find. If you are part of Team Insomnia, you should really join him for some late night tweet musings as he works overnight shifts like CoB.
A few years ago, my buddy and I went to opening day at Fenway Park. We were sitting in a bar a few hours before the game next to a drunk who wouldn’t stop complaining about everything he ordered. I’d had a few, and eventually I got tired of listening to him whine — I looked over and asked him if he’d ever pissed himself in front of 35,000 people. When he gave the obvious reply that no, in fact he never had, I told him to relax because his day wasn’t going that badly. The drunk was confused and my buddy, who knows my story, practically fell off his barstool laughing.
Today is my anniversary. It was eight years ago today, May 10th, 2005 when Barry Zito tried to kill me. Ok, not really, Zito actually didn’t have that much to do with it; I just like to pretend that he did. I was 18 years old and it was the first time my younger brother and I were making the trip to Fenway Park alone. We got there early, found our seats, had a couple hot dogs and watched batting practice. Our seats were up the line in left, close enough to the Green Monster that, had we wanted to (we didn’t), we could’ve spit on it.
As batting practice was coming to a close Barry Zito was signing autographs outside the visitors’ dugout so I walked down to have him sign a batting practice ball one of the A’s players had tossed into the stands. There was a small crowd around Zito, who at the time was still a highly regarded pitcher, but I managed to walk up to him without much trouble. He signed the ball, handed it back to me, moved on to the next autograph hound and that’s when all hell broke loose. As I was making my way back to my seat my heart rate spiked, causing me to pass out. Luckily, there was a small child walking in front of me who was nice enough to break my fall.
When I woke up there was a group of concerned Bostonians staring down at me. I was surrounded by medics who asked if I knew my name. I did, and gave them my ticket so they could retrieve my brother who was unaware that I was the reason for the gathering crowd. I was carted to Fenway’s medical center where my brother joined me shortly after, and at first he was concerned for my well-being. Shortly thereafter he realized I was doing ok and that’s when the medics started to get confused.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand that my brother and I come from a long line of ball breakers. Our grandfather was smashing our balls before we were even out of diapers, and our Dad’s the same way. Even my 90 year old Great Grandmother would get in on the action: it’s a family tradition. Nothing is ever sacred in the Nichols’ household so when my brother joined me in the Fenway Park medical center and saw that I was in good spirits his concern quickly melted away. He ignored the fact that I had more tubes coming out of me than a soda fountain and started complaining that we were going to miss the game. I quickly apologized, as the medics looked on in horror, and my brother, incredulous about our shitty luck, called me an asshole. I laughed and told him it actually got worse than that. He really couldn’t see how that was possible, so I told him that when I passed out I’d pissed my pants. His response was less than sympathetic. When he asked how that affected him I reminded him that before we left I’d borrowed a pair of his pants. My brother cursed again, then looked at one of the nurses and asked if Fenway Park had an incinerator.
Soon after, we found ourselves on the way to the hospital, from which we called our hysterical mother and interrupted a card game my old man was involved in. While we waited for them to make the two hour trek from Connecticut, we watched the game on the television in my luxurious hospital room. Of course, it ended up being the greatest game we ever attended even though we left before the ceremonial first pitch was even thrown. In the bottom of the ninth inning, on that beautiful spring day, Kevin Millar hit a walk off home run that landed in the Monster Seats. The Red Sox won 3-2 while my brother and I watched on a 13” inch TV screen from a hospital room just two miles away from Fenway Park. My brother looked at me and again told me I was an asshole. Shortly after the game, the Fenway Park medical staff stopped by to check on us. They told us about the game and for a second I thought my brother would go on a murderous rampage. He was not in a good mood.
The next few days were spent in the hospital. The doctors ran a multitude of tests trying to find out what it was that caused the arrhythmia to occur. Eventually, they decided the best course of action was surgery to implant a defibrillator that would shock my heart back to normal should another event occur, which is basically as much fun as it sounds like, by the way. After five days trapped inside a hospital meeting with more doctors than I can count I thought I was losing my mind. The doctors insisted on calling it an event (like I’d been in a freakin’ tickertape parade or something) and I’d had enough. After a week they finally granted me parole and I was sent home to recuperate.
The staff at Fenway Park was incredibly kind and couldn’t have possibly done a better job taking care of me. A few weeks after surgery I received a call from someone at Fenway Park who offered us three free tickets to a future game. The Sox ended up blowing out the Twins so it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the game we missed but my dad tagged along this time just in case something went horribly wrong. I sat there with my dad and brother watching players by the dugouts signing autographs and decided I’d stay put. I doubt my brother would’ve let me chase autographs that day even if I’d wanted to. I still have the ball that Barry Zito autographed for me. To this day it sits next to my bed and I’ve looked at it every morning for the last eight years.