On Tuesday, October 21, 1975, Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox hit a homerun in the bottom of the 12th to win Game Six of the World Series. A rat was perched on the leg of the centerfield cameraman. Instead of following the ball, the cameraman stayed on home plate as Fisk watched the ball fly toward the left field pole, waving his arms as if to keep the ball fair. As the ball hit the pole, Fisk jumped with his arms extended, the crowd cheering in the background.
ESPN named Fisk's homerun the sixth greatest homerun of all time. It has been shown hundreds of times since. I hate that homerun.
On Friday, October 17, 1975, four days prior, my mother died. She was 43; I was 12. My brothers were all teenagers, and my sister was 9. I was asleep Saturday morning when my father entered my room and opened all the blinds. He sat on my bed and told me Mom had died. Although she had been sick with cancer for nearly two years, in and out of the hospital, I thought she was coming home Friday night. I've always been a light sleeper, and that night I heard commotion downstairs. I almost got out of bed to greet her, but thought, I'll see her tomorrow. The next day I learned I would never see her again.
That morning, my sister and I watched Hong Kong Phooey and other cartoons in silence. A stream of people visited our house that weekend, each bringing food. I stayed outside as much as possible, playing basketball and football and hanging out with friends. The house had a mausoleum-like atmosphere. I was hoping to avoid discussing what had happened—as if by not talking about it, it hadn't.
Two days later, we flew to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where my mother grew up. It was the first time I remember being ...1