Field of Dreams in My Backyard

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Below is another article in a series I’ve written as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. To hear my song, "I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation," click on the box above. To view the music video, click here. 

If there’s one regBackyard_robert_takes_a_leadular season game we’d all like to attend this year, it’s tonight’s game, Red Sox vs.Yankees, Schilling vs. Clemens. And I was offered a ticket, too. Turning it down was utterly painful, but with four small kids who need dinner, baths, and a bedtime story simultaneously, the teamwork of two parents is pretty important on a Sunday night. Don’t get me wrong, my wife can handle it all alone, but other married parents in Red Sox Nation will understand that, come September, it’s wise to save your chips for… the playoffs.

And anyway, no matter how great the game is tonight, it would be tough to match the fun I had today playing wiffle ball with my 8 year-old son (above, wearing a Laurence Maroney jersey) and my 9 year-old nephew… on the baseball field in my backyard. That’s right. A few years ago, at my son’s request, we transformed the sloped grassy space behind our house into a baseball field. Fenway West. 68 feet to the Fisk Pole in left field, 56 feet to the Pesky Pole in right, 96 feet to dead center (and laminated distance markers, made at Kinko’s, on the plastic fences, which are from the garden center at Home Depot). Bases exactly 45 feet apart, foul lines spray-painted white, and a pitcher’s mound 40 feet from home.

You like the idiosyncracies of Fenway? We’ve got those too. A sandbox full of toys in left, a swingset in right, and a gigantic oak tree next to the pitcher’s mound in the center of the field (ground rules: any ball that hits the tree in fair territory is fair and in play). There’s another big tree that looms in front of the left field fence (83 feet to straight-away left) that has the same effect on line drive blasts to left as the real Green Monster does… except sometimes the ball doesn’t come back down.

Backyard_left_field_and_center_2 The neighborhood kids who play ball in our backyard go to school every day and do their homework every night. But much of their most important education takes place right here after school and on the weekends. At Fenway West, they learn to organize themselves, to make compromises when disagreements arise, to play hard, and to never give up. They learn what it feels like to have a Sports Center Moment by hitting a clutch homer or pitching a third strike on a full count. They learn how to dream, they learn how to play.

Many of my neighbors have beautiful, green lawns. No one walks on them except when they’re being mowed. Our lawn can’t be called a lawn. It would be more accurate to call it a scraggly brownish earth surface. Grass doesn’t thrive when it’s trampled relentlessly by kids (and sometimes their dads) playing wiffle ball for hundreds of hours. The dirt patches at all the bases and the pitcher’s mound are now permanent, and the grass along the paths between the bases will probably never grow again. So be it.

Backyard_robert_and_william My wife worries that the barren baseball field in our backyard decreases the value of our house. I know better. If we ever decide to sell this place, the right buyer will see the house as a pleasant appendage to a field of dreams. Which is what our backyard has been for me, my kids, and their friends these last few years.

A week ago, my son had a homework assignment that asked him to describe his favorite thing about where he lives. His answer: "The baseball field." That’s my favorite thing about where we live, too. Fenway West.




    Wish you the best in your quest for the President of the Nation. I am a frequent Red Sox Foundation donor and have taken a keen interest in the President race. I voted early and often you?re your candidacy. I feel you would bring a balanced view to the Nation of passion and whimsy. Best of luck.- you have my support.

    Bruce Werber


    We have a similar whiffle ball field in our side yard and our kids are 16,14,13,12 & 8. You can plan on many more years and great experiences on Fenway West! Anyone who is paying attention to your candidacy must know that you are the populist candidate for the President of Red Sox Nation. You represent the common fan and I can relate to your passion for passing on the traditions of Red Sox fandom to the next generation. This should be the legacy of any leader of Red Sox Nation which is why you have my vote. GO SOX AND GOOD LUCK ROB!!!

    Doug Shropshire


    When is the next game at your house? My glove is in the car… 🙂

    Seriously, Red Sox Nation needs a thoughtful, creative, and passionate leader and you’re the right person for the job! Readers, if you are undecided take a few moments and really read Rob’s blog entries. His stories talk about the love of the game, the magic of Fenway, and more importantly the life experiences of a good man and proud member of RSN! He’s got my vote and hopefully yours…


    Rob —

    I’ve been getting familiar with the candidates over the past couple of days. I feel that whoever is elected President should be a “real fan” and someone who would be wowed with the perks that come with the job.

    As much as I respect someone like Mr. Gammons, I feel that he already has access to a lot of the perks that are being offered to the winner. Same with other media members like Remy and Barnicle, or with former players such as Garces and Horn. Again, no disrespect to any of those folks and what they have accomplished in their lives. There is also an objectivity factor in terms of how those folks cover the team, particularly the media members. I just feel that it would almost be cronyism if one of the above won because of their already existing connections to the team.

    In other words, the Prez of the Nation should be a normal “schlub” just like the rest of us.

    But enough about everyone else – here is why I plan on voting for you:

    1. I love the blog entries both here and on crawdaddy. Talking about your son continuing to believe with the Sox down to Atlanta was heartwarming.

    2. Blogging is already a part of your routine, which will be great for keeping the Nation in the loop on things at Yawkey Way.

    3. I have really enjoyed learning about your love of the game, and how you are passing it along to your children.

    4. Clearly you care about making the Fenway experience more affordable and attainable for the average fan. Awesome.

    5. Your work with kids both professionally and personally is great. So you already have a track record of volunteering in the community.

    Best of luck in your candidacy and since I am an out of market fan, you may have to do a summer road trip to hit every AL stadium to meet members of the Nation. After all, you’ll need to meet as many constituents as you can!




    Go Rob!!!
    I have known “Regular Rob” for ost of his life and he’s always been a Red Sox fanatic.

    I think a dyed in the wool regualr fan should be RSN president, and not some celebrity. Give the game and the nation back to the people and the real fans!

  6. Cheryl

    I completely agree that this position is most suited for one of us “average” fans. Best of luck in the competition, and I look forward to meeting you tonight!


    Wow Rob you have accomplished so much during this race that all fans can appreciate your efforts and heart warming love of the game. I have never been a fan of baseball but I am learning a lot from you because of this race. Keep up the good work because no matter what I think that you are already the President of Red Sox Nation.

    P.S. We are not related we just have the same last name.

    Go Rob!!! Go


    A real fan would see the added value in your back yard – don’t let your wife tell you otherwise! 🙂

    Good luck, my friend!!!


    Well, your Dad edited a great hymnal, and you’ve got a great song. Keep us singing.
    –Eric and Beth Bascom in Springfield.

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