I have lived 30 minutes from Oriole Park at Camden Yards almost my entire life. And while it has been a privilege being so close to a major baseball city, the challenges of doing so with intense fandom for a division foe are certainly palpable. I grew up in the era of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek. Spare the 2012 season, my Red Sox have always given me a reason to believe in them during the dog days of summer. Meanwhile, all my friends and neighbors supported the Baltimore Orioles, who, before their breakout season in 2012, were one of the more sorry teams in all of baseball. I remember the excitement in the city when Buck Showalter was hired. How about when Manny Machado debuted? As a Red Sox fan near Baltimore, I have always been asked, “How did that happen?” The answer is quite simple. My father grew up a Red Sox fan outside of Boston. Back in the 1970s, he saw the likes of Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice at Fenway Park. Then, in 2010, he took the family to Fenway where I got to see my baseball heroes play in their home stadium for the first time. Having watched countless Red Sox games on TV from five hundred miles away, experiencing the real thing in person was nothing short of magical. Two years earlier, in 2008, a trip to Cooperstown brought me to the mecca of the sport I love. That day, I proudly sported my Red Sox hat, Red Sox socks, Red Sox shoes, and Curt Schilling t-shirt. My brother, being a Yankees fan, sported his Yankees hat and a Derek Jeter shirt.
I have never fully understood why my brother became a Yankees fan, seeing as we have no familial connection to that part of the country. He had friends in elementary school who were Yankees fans to annoy their classmates, but I think the main reason for his decision was the simple enjoyment of a good old-fashioned sibling rivalry. Our loyalty to the rival teams was something that gave us each our own indemnity as twins. I have been blessed in my lifetime with four World Series championships from my beloved Red Sox. But I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much from that curse-breaking 2004 season (as I was eight years old and had a bedtime). My fondest memory of the 2007 run was Dustin Pedroia’s home run to lead off Game 1 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies. From 2013, it has to be David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam off Joaquin Benoit that saved the Red Sox from going down two games to none to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. And finally, from 2018, my favorite moment was watching Nathan Eovaldi pitch his heart out in Game 3 of the World Series for six innings in relief. As a Red Sox fan near Baltimore, I have long embraced playing the role of villain. Countless games at Camden Yards where the crowd is 50/50 Red Sox-Orioles has always reminded me that I am not alone out here. After all, this is where I caught my first baseball at a game last season. And this is where I have welcomed my favorite players to my own backyard for many years. I have grown up reading about baseball and watching baseball, letting my imagination run wild with images of Ted Williams, my all-time favorite player. Although I have never been to Yankee Stadium, I hope to go one day with my brother right beside me-- him in his Yankees gear and me proudly sporting my Red Sox stuff.