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Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season

1 rating: 3.0
A book
1 review about Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans...

Faithful ~ Stewart O'Nan/Stephen King ~ 2004 Sox

  • Apr 26, 2006
Pros: player info

Cons: confusing writers, who was who?

The Bottom Line: "Because I love that dirty water
Oh, oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)"

A few years ago I couldn’t spell baseball fan, now I are one … that’s the entire giddy up of Faithful by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King.

I’ll admit I don’t always understand all the rules and regs of baseball. Some of those rules just seem senseless to me [catch a fly ball in foul territory its an OUT, hit to foul territory, its not ... sigh] and are a basis for most arguments during a game when I ask the endless stream of questions all beginning with “Why…”. Diane just shakes her head and says “That’s the rule.” As if that makes it logical. And baseball is all about logic and statistics. The rules aren’t however [snicker]

Hope springs eternal
Certainly there is no fan that equals a Red Sox fan on the planet. When ‘we’ are doing good, ‘we’ are ‘we’ but when ‘they’ are doing bad, ‘we’ are no longer a ‘we’ but a ‘they’. But good or bad, the true Sox fan never turns their back on the team. They start the season each year with as much hope and determination as they show on the final game, always assuming that this will be the year. Well it finally was, in 2004, and it was a year that fans will remember for all of their lives.

Stew & Steve
If memory serves me right, neither man was born with a red sock as a pacifier, they were both considered new Sox fans. In other words, they had started elsewhere in life but ended up in The Nation. Perhaps I’m wrong on that bit of history but that was the feeling I came away with. Irregardless, born Red or born somewhere else, once the red begins pounding through your bloodstream, you are red until the day you die.

Since I am not a baseball historian, I did enjoy their input and background on players. As well, it was enjoyable to hear/read their own feelings of frustration when things didn’t go as planned or as they wished. I also enjoyed the fans perspective on players and the fact that, once they entered the ballpark, they were simple souls just like the rest of us vying for that fly ball or autograph.

Naturally I found Steve to be a more descriptive writer, actually imaging his scenes as he wrote them. He simply has that ability to take you there, even if it is just pacing around his living room. Uh, thanks for that underwear image Steve! Stew I found to be a drier writer and only toward the middle of the book did he cut loose a little and lighten up.

What I liked and didn’t like
It often was confusing trying to determine which writer was putting his thoughts down. I thought for a while that Stew was in light print and Steve in bold print, but that didn’t always hold true either. Mainly you had to fall back on prior knowledge to determine the style of writing to figure out who was who. Again, not that it really mattered because it was about being a fan and it didn’t matter if it was fan A or fan B that was writing.

The better scenario would have been a Sox fan and a Yankee fan co-authoring the book. Now that would have been quite the debacle. Of course, how could you get those two to collaborate on anything? Think of it though, each with their perspective leading up to the final inning and the final out.

I did like player information that they included as well as their own feelings about players. I also enjoyed the fact that they often seemed clueless about the rest of the baseball world and were proud to admit it. They acknowledged that there were other teams playing the sport but it didn’t really matter to them. Like, Barry Bonds who?

Their writing style was easy to read for the most part because it was in diary form and not a true sportscaster chronicle. Yes they often gave you play-by-play stats, but their excitement at those times added to that. And basically, that is what it boiled down to, their excitement.

What is a Sox fan?
Doesn’t matter if you are Stewart O’Nan, Stephen King, or Joe Blow in the stands. A Sox fan eats, sleeps, and dreams about their team. They replay constantly in their heads. They change the batters and the pitchers and raspberry the manager for his poor choices. They look with adoration at their player even when he is 0-22, just knowing that his next time at bat he is going to hit a grand slam. They give a standing O to their pitcher even when he hasn’t struck out the opponent for 13 games because this time could be the perfect game.

They also boo the players and ignore them. They get huffy and nasty and throw things at them. There is nothing as silent as a filled stadium when the home team is sucking all the air out of the room. And still, still, the next day they don their red shirts and cocky hats and pay their money to watch them again. Because they believe, they simply believe.

Overall impression
Actually I bought this for Diane because she said she would never own a Stephen King book. Now she is the real baseball nut in our house and, after the Braves, a Sox fan. Being born in New England, it is stamped on your birth certificate “Sox Fan”. So, basically, in her soul, she has never given up either. However, when I was looking for a book to read on my trips back to Ohio, I started this one. It was slow going at first, I just couldn’t get into it. Of course, it was winter, no baseball on TV either. It’s different when baseball is active.

Then I hit a groove and before I knew it I was laughing at the guys and chewing my fingernails right along with them. I was cussing the umps and the manager and the lousy pitching. I was wearing my hat sideways and the same socks for three days and trying to figure out who to leave in and who to take out and who the hell would be on the playoff roster.

I would recommend this book to anyone that has ever been a fan, of anything. Or to anyone that has ever faced an obstacle in their life they didn’t think they would overcome. Or to anyone that has lost faith in the slightest thing in their life. You don’t have to be a baseball fan, or fanatic, to get something from this book. It isn’t about baseball, although that is certainly full of baseball, it is about belief.

And, thanks to them, just for a minute, I believed too. Meet me at Foxwoods.


Publisher: Scribner, 432 pages, ISBN: 0743267524, hardcover edition


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