Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"The Progress of the Seasons - Forty Years of Baseball In Our Town" by George V. Higgins - A Rich Memoir of Red Sox Memories

I recently shared a game at Fenway Park with a friend who is as passionate about baseball and the Red Sox as I am.  As we met at Gate A, with a big smile on his face, he said, "I have a gift for you." That gift was George V. Higgins' classic memoir "The Progress of the Seasons - Forty Years of Baseball in Our Town."  In 1989, Higgins wrote this love letter celebrating 40 tumultuous years of following his beloved Red Sox, and chronicling his relationship with his father and grandfather, whose Red Sox-loving DNA has determined the author's own devotion to a team that went 86 years without winning a World Series title.

The years covered in this memoir include the decades from 1946 to 1986; those two bookend years were ones in which the Red Sox made it to the World Series, but fell short of grabbing the brass ring.  Higgins is a master wordsmith, and he evokes many wondrous memories of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dom Dimaggio, Dick Radatz, Jim Rice, Bill Lee, Dewey Evans, Oil Can Boyd and lesser lights in the Red Sox galaxy.  Mr. Higgins  recounts many events that I had a chance to witness with my own eyes as a boy and later as a man.  It felt like I was sitting in the Higgins living room listening to the three generations of Red Sox fans swap remembrances of games that were etched n their memories.

His baseball vignettes are stitched together with many recollections of what it was like to grow up in a family in which three generations rode the waves of euphoria and despair that are as much a part of the Red Sox experience as are Fenway Franks and drunk BU students in the bleachers.  This is a book that will be a delight to all kinds of baseball fans.  For those of us who suffered through the lean years, it is a poignant reminder of what we endured while awaiting the magic that was 2004.  For those who have only followed the Red Sox since the Duck Boats and World Series Victory Parades became a regular part of the journey, this book will give you a foundational understanding of those of us who have a hard time accepting "pink hats" as first class citizens of Red Sox Nation.  The book covers a discrete period of time, yet the sentiments that Higgins shares are truly timeless.



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