Day 32 “St Paddy’s Day”

Since it was going to rain, I had decided that I won’t go to the high school baseball game in Venice, Florida. There was some college games that were going on and I thought I would attend at least one after I wrote my blog post for the day.  At about that time, Todd texted me and said that he could get two tickets to the Boston Red Sox – St Louis Cardinals game out at JetBlue, if I wanted them. “Yeah, Todd”, I wanted them…  Easy decision. I showed up where he worked to get the tickets and he told me that you have to experience a St Paddy’s game with all the Boston fans. He was right. A sea of green, a packed ball park, drunk Bostonians, and a Red Sox blow out made for a fun experience.  My tickets were prime and right behind the Red Sox dugout. I sat next to Anthony Hilson, 32, from Surrey, England, who was at the game by himself since his wife, of a year in half, wasn’t into “sport”.

Anthony Hilson
Anthony Hilson

Anthony and Sally, his wife, were in the states for a vacation, spending two days in Boston and eight days in South Florida.  Sally’s parents come to Naples every year for a couple of months to get away from the cold and to do some golfing. So, Anthony thought it was a wonderful idea to come visit…  Anthony was born in Manchester but grew up in Surrey (South London) where he went to high school playing cricket and soccer. He also participated in college soccer at the University of Surrey, where he graduated and studied Sports Science. Anthony told me he worked for the National Crime Agency. I asked if that was like  “James Bond” type of stuff. He smiled and said, “hardly”. It is border protection at the airport, a far cry from sports science he noted.

“Why wasn’t he safe, he didn’t tag him with the ball?”  Anthony asked. I was confused to what he was asking at first; then, realized that it was a routine ground out from the shortstop to the 1st baseman. I explained what a force out was and I think he understood. I never gave it a thought that he might not understand the game that well. He told me that he has gone to a couple of games. Since I grew up watching and playing, I take it for granted that everyone knows the basic rules. Why I assumed that I will never know. I don’t know or understand “Cricket” even though I have watched it a few times. Anthony told me that he went to Fenway and Yankee Stadium for tours and has been to Tropicana Field to watch the Rays play once. He tends to “look out” for them since they were the first team he saw play. In addition, he saw the San Francisco Giants play in an exhibition but it was only three innings because of rain (Anthony told me that they only played the 3 innings because the Giants won’t have to refund the money, so he will never be a fan of the them … I don’t blame you).

“Wife can’t stand it, but tolerates it for me” Anthony said of his obsession with sport. She isn’t into sports at all! If Sally was, basketball would be her game. She did attend a Celtics game with him last week in Boston and a Miami Heat game last year. Anthony is a huge football fan (soccer). Manchester United is his team in the Premier League, his dad brought him to a lot of games growing up. He doesn’t get to many Manchester United home games but will attend games that they play around London. He told me that fans from the opposing team are put in their own section, “We don’t mix fans, it can get out of hand, certain clubs have big rivalries…” Anthony said with a smile.

If you don’t know what the Premier league is I took the following from Wikipedia, click on the following link for more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premier_league:

“The Premier League is an English professional league for men’s association football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country’s primary football competition. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Football League. Besides English clubs, some of the Welsh clubs can also qualify to play, and participation by some Scottish or Irish clubs has also been mooted.”

I was intrigued by Anthony and why he got into American sports. He said that he just “loves sports”. He explained that his buddy, Roger Moffat, got him into American baseball (a huge Yankees fan according to Anthony) and football.  Along with baseball and football, Anthony loves basketball but not hockey. He said he never has been to a hockey game, so that would probably change if he ever did. His favorite football team is the Miami Dolphins since he has seen them play a couple of times, once in Miami and once in London. He says they will be back in London next year and is excited to see them play there again. The New York Knicks are his favorite NBA team. He saw them play at the Madison Square Garden at his first NBA game, so he “looks out for them”.

Anthony used to spend a lot of money on tickets and travel ($3500) yearly on sporting events. But now, since he has gotten married, not so much ($1000).  He doesn’t attend as many events either since a lot of his friends are married and have kids.  He has a thing for stadiums and likes to go to different ones. He has been to many in the UK, about 50 overall he guessed.  He was able to go to the Champions League final in Moscow back in 2008 when Manchester United won it all; and, 2009 when they lost in the championship game.

I didn’t understand the different leagues and tournaments he was talking about, so I took the following except from Wikipedia, here is the link if you want more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_Champions_League:

“The UEFA Champions League, known simply as the Champions League, is an annual continental club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) since 1992. It replaced the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, or simply European Cup, which had run since 1955, adding a group stage to the competition and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries.It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football. The final of the 2012–13 tournament was the most watched UEFA Champions League final to date, as well as the most watched annual sporting event worldwide in 2013, drawing 360 million television viewers.”

I enjoyed talking with Anthony. I did my best explaining what the Base Coaches did, what the 7th inning stretch was about, why someone would steal a base and what “tagging up” was…  I don’t know if he understood it all, however it gave me a deeper appreciation for this game, of the fans that come out to watch and root on their team.  His confusion was comparable to my own when the Aussie’s (Day 15 “Cricket?”) were explaining Cricket to me. I would love to watch a soccer match in the UK with you Anthony!  Safe travels!

If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help http://www.baseballbuddha.com/sponsor.html .  Please also share this on your Facebook page and Twitter, I appreciate all the help I can get!

2 thoughts on “Day 32 “St Paddy’s Day”

  1. Nice story. ENJOY your conversations and writing John. Go Badgers! Good to go with your heart sometimes and Give Hope. I should have done that but I picked Florida lol. Im sure I won’t win a billion! Take care.

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  2. Kind of fitting that you spoke with a ‘neighbor’ of Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day! Definitely a man that can’t get enough of sports in his life. AND…travels to enjoy whichever is scheduled. What a fun day … save that slaughter of the Red Sox over the Cardinals! 🙂

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