Zenith introduced a television remote known as “Lazy Bones” around the same time I was born (the 1950s). I have always been very critical of a nation — principally of men — that refuses to get up from the couch to change a television station and needs access to a 500-channel selection. Now, I lie among them. I became the queen of the clicker on Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
I took my vertical position all hyped up for my favorite football game of the season: Notre Dame versus the University of Southern California. I think I like USC so much because Pete Carroll, former New England Patriots coach, was once the team’s coach, and I am loyal to all things Boston. Except for my beloved Notre Dame.
In my grandfather’s house few things mattered more than Notre Dame football. In fact, if Notre Dame lost a Saturday afternoon football game, my grandfather refused to eat dinner and simply went straight to bed after the game at 4 in the afternoon. My father and his siblings did the same, thinking this was the “normal” and proper thing to do. When television sets first became available for purchase, my dad and his brother pooled all of their savings and purchased one on the condition it would be installed in the home before Notre Dame’s kickoff the following Saturday.
My grandfather wrote pieces for one of Notre Dame’s publications, which I find interesting, since no one in my family before me had ever been to college. Gramps also appeared regularly as a featured guest on a sports radio show under a pseudonym. I was nearly 20 years old before I knew that the man I loved to listen to as a featured guest on 1280 AM was really my grandfather.
In my house, you grew up loving sports; great moments in Boston sports history occupy some of my favorite childhood memories. In our home, watching sports huddled around the television was considered quality family time. The Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins were members of our family. My brothers pretended they were hockey legends Bobby Orr and Phil “Espo” Esposito, and at 10 years old, I fell deeply in love for the first time. To prove my love, I purchased a gold heart at Woolworths for 99 cents. On it, I had engraved my love’s name: “Yaz.” I wore it for years.
The “Cardiac Kids” of the ’67 Sox, the big bad Bruins, and later those celebrated Game 7s between our Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers made many a family gathering just a bit more exciting. I was more mature then; an “I Hate the Lakers” T-shirt had replaced my Yaz heart.
So, when Notre Dame marched the football all the way down the field on their opening possession and walked away without a score, I joined the sports-crazed nation: Where’s the remote? What’s happening at Fenway?
Lots of excitement at Fenway Park. Would the Red Sox advance to the World Series for the third time since the 2004 season when their 10-3, seventh-game victory over the Yankees brought them to the 100th World Series, against the St. Louis Cardinals?
I wish Dad were alive; Gramps too. Dad died before his beloved Sox swept the Cardinals in 2004, winning the World Series for the first time since 1918; his Patriots also were champions in 2004, winning the Super Bowl against the upstart Carolina Panthers. He waited all his life for these victories. He never missed a game watching on the little black-and-white television that sat on the kitchen counter. Never gave up hope of a world championship. Never quit early on a game, no matter how much his team was down. But his kids now carry the family torch and love of all teams Boston.
Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, but most importantly Notre Dame football. I remember one of the highlights of Dad’s life was when my brother took him to the Notre Dame-Boston College game. Though BC was favored to win, Notre Dame came up with a great goal-line stand. All of our family sat in our cars listening on the radio, screaming for Dad.
So in a nail-biting, click-on/click-off Notre Dame home victory against USC — the first since 2001 — the Irish still have a shot at a BCS game even though Notre Dame was not ranked in the Top 25 in the initial BCS rankings. Still, the sports commentators say it won’t happen: Stanford and even Brigham Young University will knock them out. Gramps and Dad say otherwise. Notre Dame will win out.
As for the Red Sox, when I “clicked on” and Detroit was up to 2-1 in the sixth inning, I thought of clicking off, but as my brother reminded me, “Dad raised you better than that.” I confided that I shamefully clicked off last week at the end of the Patriot’s game. The Saints were up 24-23 with 3:29 on the clock. I intended to stay tuned, but the late Saints interception and the subsequent field goal “made me” shut it down. So a few minutes later, when I clicked back on hoping my fears were not realized, I found I had missed Brady’s dramatic winning touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins.
Lesson learned: Giving up is something you should never do, especially if you’re a Boston sports fan. Boston fans believe always the game will be won. The only question about the 2013 World Series Championship is how badly the Sox will defeat the Cardinals.
Diane M. Sullivan is a former Fitchburg resident who is now a professor and assistant dean for the Massachusetts School of Law.