I haven’t seen Bostonians this distressed in many, many years. In what was going to be a glorious celebration of the 100 anniversary of America’s most beloved ballpark, Fenway Park, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins gearing up for another great playoff season, everything seemed to fall apart.
The Red Sox had a 9 to 0 lead over the rival New York Yankees going into the 7th inning when the roof fell in on our Red Sox. The Yankees waged a remarkable comeback, and scored 15 consecutive runs to win 15-9. The Red Sox home opener the day before, was high on theatrics and celebrity grandstanding, but light on playing the game.
I don’t know which was slower, the mayor’s first pitch, or the Red Sox pithcers serving up so many home runs. Caroline Kennedy throwing out the first ball at least reminded me of the day I saw her father at Fenway, before he was president, many years before.
The Bruins lost two in a row to the Washington Capitals in these same couple of days and eventually crashed out of the playoffs at the hands of that same team.
At least the Red Sox opened up Fenway to the “real fans” the day before Opening Day, so my grandson Braedan O’Doherty, and many parents with their kids had the opportunity to meet and talk to manager Bobby Valentine, who was very friendly.
But the worst was not yet over for many Bostonians.
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On the following Saturday, the people of South Boston crowded into St. Brigid’s Church to attend the funeral of Mrs. Barbara Coyne, who had been brutally murdered in her own home in South Boston.
Crime and drugs are ruining this once strong and stable family neighborhood. The display of love and emotion for Barbie by her devastated family and friends was extraordinary.
As I walked outside the church, I was asked by one old timer, “Ray, what has happened to Southie? It’s terrible over here. The press doesn’t even cover the crimes anymore, and the people don’t even bother to report all the breaks. You lost everything when these druggies robbed your house while you and Kathy were attending Mrs. Fitzgerald’s funeral.”
A minute or so later, a respected Korean War veteran came up to us and said he has seen me the night before at St. Brendan’s Church in Dorchester.
I had never attended a Mass with that level of anger directed at the Boston Globe. The Mass was a memorial service for beloved priest, Fr. Jim Lane, who had died years ago, but was just recently accused of sex abuse by a former parishioner.
“They are tearing down our town, our church. All we have left is each other, and we’re going pretty fast,” said the Korea vet.
I thought, walking home through these streets I know so well, that things could have stayed the way they were when I was a kid growing up. I knew every house and family. So many Irish, Italian and Lithuanian immigrants. I went to school with these greet kids. We played ball together. Now it’s all changed.
The next time I hear another politician running on the issue of change, I’m going to say, “no thanks, we don’t like your change, we loved it the way it was.”