My Dad, Marty, drinks coffee each morning with the old farts down at McDonald's. Each of the Alter Kockers (Yiddish for old goat) has their self proclaimed assigned seat. Marty's seat is the furthest seat to the left because as Marty states "there is no one further to the left of center" in regards to their political views.
So it should come as no surprise that the entire Civin family is mourning the loss of the liberal Democrat Senator from Massachusetts Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who died this morning at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, MA after battling brain cancer.
This story is not one to share my political views as there are two things that I try to keep out of my public forum, politics and religion (Thank God, right?). This is simply to share a special moment that my wife, Katie, and I shared with Ted and 36,756 of his closest friends.
Our brush with Senator Ted occurred at Opening Day, 2009 in Fenway Park. Katie and I scored tickets through one of the Red Sox ticket drawings. We dropped $150 for the two seats as far back in the Bleachers as you can possibly sit. In fact, the tickets said we were inside Fenway, but I suspect the GPS had us in Cambridge.
It didn't matter to Katie and I. We were inside the friendly confines on Opening Day and as the saying goes, "It Don't Get No Better Than That."
But then it did. The clock struck 4:06 in honor of another immortal Teddy Ballgame and Katie and I tried to squeeze through the crowded concourse before the first pitch was thrown. After the obligatory stop in the beer line to fill up and to the bathroom to empty, Katie and I fought to get to our cherished throne.
The narrow hall ways of our beloved temple were more crowded than they've ever been as faithful fans were seemingly squeezed into the Fens with a shoe horn that day.
As we finally saw daylight one of Boston's Men in Blue stood in front of us keeping us from our appointed route. Katie and I laughed and knew we were destined to miss Beckett's first fast ball. Murphy's Law I suppose. Just our luck.
And then in an instant our luck changed. Our mouths dropped open. We looked at each other, tears welling up inside as Sir Edward passed within inches of us and the onlooking crowd. And we clapped. All of us clapped.
We knew that Kennedy's appearance transcended political lines. For that moment none of us were Democrats or Republicans. Conservatives or Liberals. We were simply human beings who found ourselves in the presence of an American icon.
Teddy looked old and worn and from what we later found out his first pitch will go down in the portals of Red Sox history as one of the weakest first pitches ever. Teddy stood on the mound as Jim Rice squatted a mere 5-6 feet from Teddy and his bright Red warm-up jacket.
The ball flipped helplessly out of Teddy's hand and trickled to Rice's feet. The Fenway faithful didn't care either, but stood and cheered long and loud.
We suspected that Teddy wouldn't be seeing many more Opening Days and we were right.
Katie and I made our way to our seats in the nose bleed section as the Star Spangled Banner played. We stood tall and proud with our hands placed firmly across our hearts.
We had had a brush with greatness that far overshadowed the final score.
There's a new kid on your team, God. He's finally joining his brothers. I hear he's a lefty, God. But please, don't let him pitch.
He is also a supporter of A Glove of Their Own, the award winning children's book that teaches the act of Paying it Forward through baseball. Please visit our site to purchase this book that is sure to become a classic. Purchase under today's donor code JNF636 The Joe Niekro Foundation.