Multi-platinum country music star Jo Dee Messina returns to her Massachusetts elementary school this week as the first nonathlete in Sharpie's T.O.-inspired "Autographs for Education" campaign. Predictably, Messina is a die-hard Red Sox fan, although she has a better excuse than most.

Okay, tell me how your parents met.

My parents met at Fenway Park. They used to clean up the park after games when they were kids and that's how they met. They were 16 or 17, back when Ted Williams was playing and he used to shoot the pigeons out of the stands before the games. If it wasn't for Fenway Park, I wouldn't be here. How's that? Isn't that wild?

Were they fans or did just they just work there?

I think it's impossible to live in the area and not be fans. Yeah, they were definitely fans.

So did they drag you to Fenway and tell you the story over and over?

I went to Fenway a lot when I was a kid, my dad took me to a lot of games. They didn't tell me the story over and over again, but most of my childhood I spent outside the back gate waiting for autographs. Those were the days when Jim Rice and Butch Hobson were back there.

Do you ever make it back nowadays?

Are you kidding? I sang during the seventh-inning stretch of Game 4 [of the ALCS] against the Yankees last year. That was awesome. To grow up and be at Fenway Park, to always see it from a distance and now go on the field? It was just awesome, just an amazing thing. You think it's never possible as a kid, and a few years pass and you're right down on the field with the players. And that was when [the series] all flipped around. . . . They weren't winning, they were not winning, and I was like, 'Have faith, man, have faith.' I remember telling the girl who was escorting me around, she was talking to a co-worker and saying, 'What are you going to do now that the season's over?' And I was like, 'Guys, knock it off, it's not over until it's over!'

Did you stay for the rest of the game?

We did, and we were so exhausted. The last part of that series, those were the longest games ever in the world, they went until 1, 2 o'clock. And you know the whole state of Massachusetts was whupped after those games, because everybody stayed up.

How many Sox fans are there in the country music world?

More now. I'm certain, more now than there used to be. I see a lot of folks that come to my shows, they wear the swag, anything Boston Red Sox. I don't know if they wear it because they're supporting me or they're fans, but I see a lot of people wearing Red Sox swag.

Before last year, I would have said they kind of go together, country music and the Red Sox. You know, both sort of dwell on tragedy.

Awwww, it's too early in the morning for this. Yes, but they always overcome. We're both inspirational, country music and the Red Sox.

Your new album is called "Delicious Surprise," right? Does that refer to the World Series win?

Sure, if you want it to. No, there's actually a song called "Delicious Surprise" on the record, and it talks about if you believe anything is possible, then it is possible.

That sounds appropriate to the Red Sox.

Yeah, it does.

-- Dan Steinberg

Messina's new album.