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Baseball and Running: A Strange Boston Relationship

I'm writing this now because, well, I'm not actually writing it right now. Instead, I'm running somewhere between Hopkinton and Boston (hopefully a little closer to the latter), a trek which is made a bit more interesting in the final two miles when you pass by a particular ballpark, where the Red Sox will be playing the Orioles.

Every year, the city of Boston practically shuts down on Patriot's Day for the Boston Marathon. And every "Marathon Day", the Red Sox start their once-a-year morning game at 11 a.m., at precisely the time the first wave of runners leave Hopkinton on course to complete the most significant 26.2 mile course this side of Athens (the one in Greece, not Georgia).

It's a unique bond fostered both by the Boston Athletic Association -- the group that spends practically its entire year organizing the race -- and the Red Sox, an organization so linked to history that they understand the traditional role of tying the race and the game together.

Playing a 10 a.m. game might seem bizarre or counterintuitive. After all, who wants to wake up and go right to the park (well, come to think of it, wouldn't we all love that life?). In Boston, it's seen as a sign of regional patriotism. To go to a Red Sox game and turn to see runners streak by on Patriot's Day is almost the essence of being Bostonian. Add in a cup of Chowder at the game, and you're there.

It's a fittingly patrician way to approach baseball, a game steeped in colloquial traditions and oddities. If what you love about baseball is the minutia, then hopefully you're enjoying the game on TV right now, particularly since it has a solid local link with the O's this year.

And if that's not part of why you love baseball, well, bear with Boston on this one. It's a weird relationship, but sometimes some of life's most beautiful moments are made of exactly that. After all, how else could we explain Yogi Berra's success as a player, manager and modern philosopher?

By Cameron Smith  |  April 20, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Orioles , Red Sox  
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Next: Moment of Levity: The Big Picture


Cameron; all the best on your race. Let us know your time.

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

According to the marathon's Web site, Cameron finished in 3:30.39 ... nicely done, Cam!

Jon DeNunzio

Posted by: Jon DeNunzio | April 20, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Cameron, you're a sick, sick man.

Posted by: adampschroeder | April 20, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Actually, what Jon meant to say is that Cam finished in 3:03:39 good for 1,735th out of 22,849 people who completed the marathon.

For the record, I can't run a half-mile without wanting to die.

Posted by: CJ Holley | April 21, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Cameron - hope it went well. The Marathon runs by the fringe of my old elementary school district (Commonwealth Ave in Newton, before City Hall, near what is now a pump station but used to be unused cemetary property). I remember the horribly hot day in the mid 70s when a Canadian (Jerome Drayton?) won the race and then said how poorly it was organized. No water tables back then, crowds surging onto the course, etc... The BAA does a much better job now.

It used to be that the Marathon started at noon, so you could go to the Red Sox game, which started at 11, have it run the normal 2:30 length, and walk over to Kenmore Square and catch the leaders. Now, with ESPN pushing the Marathon start earlier (Why? What else are they going to show?) and the AL games getting longer, that is no longer possible. I think last year they started the game at 10, which was as early as it ever started. The timing no longer works as traditional, but you can still catch most of the field and cheer them on.

Running the Marathon is a big thing with the Red Sox wives. Mike Timlin's wife raises money for ALS, and I think Trot Nixon's wife and maybe Shonda Schilling also run it.

I don't know your time, but I'm sure if you were under 5 hours, there were people cheering you on all the way in from at least Wellesley. Oh, and did anyone tell you the tee shirt trick? Wear a Wellesley College tee shirt through Wellesley and the students will go nuts. Then pull that off and wear a Boston College tee shirt through Newton to help you through Heartbreak Hill and down to Clevlenad Circle and Beacon Street.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 21, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the "under 5 hours" was before Jon D's comment appeared. But it is true that people cheer on the course for hours after the leaders go by. Living in Crystal City, I try to do that for the Marine Corps.

Congrats - great time!

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 21, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

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