It was early in the days at St. Cecilia's parish in Boston as the Rev. Msgr. Vincent J. Mackey, who has said masses and listened to confessions for 35 years engaged in a quiet prayer from the alter for the parish ball club.
"At noon mass before the game I will ask for a prayer again and do not use the name Red Sox, just the parish ball club," said the monisignor.
And now here in Washington on a warm October day, early in the fall, thousands of fans sat noisely near a TV set in an office ignoring incoming calls, or at some favorite bar, to watch the Red Sox-Yankee playoff game. Washington, a city without a major league baseball franchise, cooked up its own baseball fever for the extra last day of the 1978 baseball season.
The fever was running on Capitol Hill where representatives, senators and their staffers from New York and the New England states, keep their work schedules and an ear and eye to the TV sets in the office. The bars filled up early with late lunchers and night workers. Downtown offices grinded to a TV halt. Herewith, some hits and misses around the town:
At the Class Reunion, a patron reached into his back pocket and placed a Red Sox baseball cap on his head as a man at another table reached for his New York Yankee cap, while they smiled at each other. Play ball.
It's the seventh inning at Nathan's and little-known Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent smacks a home run to give the Yankees the lead they never relinquished.
"Bucky Dent, the only guy named after two teeth, he belts a homer. Only in New York can you do this," was the cry of anguish.
At Marshall's West End, a smug Yankee rooter explained the large amount of Red Sox rooters: "It's smart to be a Boston fan in Washington. When you have a job in the government, it doesn't hurt to have a Harvard connection. To root for the Red Sox, it hints that you might have a Harvard connection instead of Alabama Normal School or whatever."
A last minute entrey pushing through the door at Marshall's studied the intense faces pressing against the screen and said, "This place looks too hostile, a lot of pinched faces; they look like Boston fans."
There were Yankees on first and third, two outs and the last of the ninths when "Yaz" showed up again at bat. And they were cheering hard in back at the class reunion.
Yaz hit a pop fly to third, ending the year, as the fans removed his Red Sox cap saying, "It was bad for the Sox, 60 years came down to a half as inning.
"Harry Barzee did it. He sold Babe Ruth to finance 'No, No, Nanette' and it's been downhill since then."