Friday, April 13, 2012

Opening Day

For those of you not in Red Sox Nation, today is akin to a religious holiday in Boston - Opening Day at Fenway Park. For today's blog post I chose the song, "Sweet Caroline". I realized that I did not know the origins of playing Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park so I did a little googling:

Another mystery of the Diamond, explained at last

By Stephanie Vosk, Globe Correspondent | May 29, 2005

"The lyrics have nothing to do with baseball.

The composer has no connection to the Red Sox.

The song hit the charts more than 30 years ago.

So why does ''Sweet Caroline" pump from the speakers at Fenway Park in the middle of the eighth inning of every single Red Sox game? ...
Amy Tobey knows the answer to the ''Sweet Caroline" question.

Tobey began working for the Red Sox through her job at BCN Productions, a film and video communications company, having interned for the Boston Bruins.

Her assignment was to decide what music would be played at the park from 1998 to 2004.

She had noticed ''Sweet Caroline" was used at other sporting events, and she decided to send the sweetness over the Fenway speakers.

The song was picked up by fans, and the more it caught on, the more superstitious Tobey became about playing it.

Tobey would play the song somewhere between the seventh and ninth innings if the team was ahead, depending on whether she felt the team was going to win.

She didn't go by any specific margin of runs, but rather who the opponent was, and her gut instincts.

''I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey says. ''Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel."

In 2002, when new management took over at the park, they requested that Tobey play the song during the eighth inning of every game.

''They liked it and they just loved the crowd reaction with it and stuff," she says.

Though Tobey says she was nervous the change would be bad luck for the team, its appeal to fans ultimately ruled.

And under the song's spell, the Red Sox last season won their first World Series in 86 years.

It was even included in the recent film ''Fever Pitch," starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, that appropriates scenes from 2004's winning season."

I have written a book review on The Joy of Sox book and reflected on a recent talk I attended by Rick Leskowitz that speaks to heart energy and the energy that can be generated when a group with a common purpose come together - like opening day.

What if we treated every day of our lives like opening day feeling the hope, the possibility, the goodwill, the joy, the anticipation of a championship season? What if we greeted strangers we meet smiling, drawing from the energy of a Spring day with perfect temperatures, blue skies and everything in bloom with a sense of optimism for our common purpose. And what if we approached life the way sports psychologists coach players in a slump; forget about yesterday's strike out. Focus on each time being a new ballgame (literally and metaphorically) when you step up to the plate feeling the strength and power within of when you hit that home run.

When I was growing up, gym class was excruciatingly painful for me as a survivor of paralytic polio. Back in the 50's and 60's there was no disability awareness and I bore the brunt of a lot of teasing and taunting. My nickname was "Easy Out Alper" - ha! That's what they thought. I would always be chosen last for a team and one of my favorite memories of all time is the day that everyone moved in from the outfield when I came to the plate for kick ball. Everyone was laughing at me. The wind up, the pitch and by some miracle I connected with the ball and kicked it hard. Now if everyone would have remained in the outfield, I might not have scored a home run but there was no one there to field the ball and so I trotted around the bases. I can still feel the power of connecting with that ball in my core and it's a body memory that takes me through many challenges on my yoga mat and off.

There was a time when every day felt like I was part of a losing season and I had no idea how to find my way out of the slump. I was in a dark hole slipping farther and farther away from life but never losing hope. Somehow I held onto a sliver of hope and my Spirit led me out of the darkness into this glorious life that I now live. It's taken a lot of hard work in the off season, many healing angels, guides and teachers to bring me to today's Opening Day. Remember when you show up at the plate, play full on with all of your heart, you are a champion. The energy is electric in Boston and I feel so blessed to be a part of these wonderful traditions - Red Sox baseball and the Boston Marathon. I am so grateful to feel well enough to appreciate life the way I do. Play ball!

From my heart to yours
With eternal love and total gratitude,

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