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Stephen King - Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle The Historic 2004 Season

  • Jun 12, 2011
  • by
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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Susi Dawson ()
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About this book


Fans watching the 2004 baseball playoffs were often treated to shots of Stephen King sitting in the stands, notebook in hand. Given the bizarre events on the field, from the Red Sox's unprecedented comeback against their most hated rivals to their ace pitcher's bleeding, stitched-together ankle--not to mention the Sox's first championship in 86 years--you could be forgiven for thinking King was writing the script as he went along, passing new plot twists down to the dugouts between innings.

What he was writing, though, along with his friend and fellow novelist Stewart O'Nan, was Faithful, a diary of the 2004 Red Sox season. Faithful is written not from inside the clubhouse or the press room, but from the outside, from the stands and the sofa in front of the TV, by two fans who, like the rest of New England, have lived and died (mostly died) with the Sox for decades. From opposite ends of Red Sox Nation, King in Maine and O'Nan at the border of Yankees country in Connecticut, they would meet in the middle at Fenway Park or trade emails from home about the games they'd both stayed up past midnight to watch. King (or, rather, "Steve") is emotional, O'Nan (or "Stew") is obsessively analytical. Steve, as the most famous Sox fan who didn't star in Gigli, is a folk hero of sorts, trading high fives with doormen and enjoying box seats better than John Kerry's, while Stew is an anonymous nomad, roving all over the park. (Although he's such a shameless ballhound that he gains some ...

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ISBN-10: 0743267532
ISBN-13: 978-0743267533
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Publisher: Scribner

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