Monday, January 12, 2009

Jim Rice

Jim Rice represents what was a very special time in many of our lives. He was a constant in my childhood. His first full season was the year I was born. His last one was the final year of the 80s, i.e. the "decade I'm a child of." He was one of the last guys from that era when players stayed on one team for their entire careers. Along with Dewey and Yaz, Jim Rice was the Red Sox.

But he also represents a unique time in history. People always make fun of the disco era, but at least people were doing something different. I love that if you look at the average "man's suit" from any time between now and, I don't know, the 40s, it looks exactly the same--except in the late 70s. Same thing with the Red Sox uniform. One year, all of a sudden, they were wearing pajamas on the field. It lasted a few years, and then things went back to normal forever. Normal--ugh. It's not that I don't like the classic Red Sox uniform, but I don't like how people get stuck on what's comfortable. One era just said Screw it, we're flipping this whole thing on its ear. A poster of Jim Rice fits right in with the wood paneled, shag-carpeted, colored-lighting, ashtray-ridden den (with bar) that was the norm in the Abnorm Era.

My earliest memories coincide with the just-post-Abnorm Era, but if you realize how many houses today still have wood paneling in them, you can probably guess that the early 80s were still "the 70s" in spirit. Rice's best years were my favorite years. Give me any movie made between 1975 and 1986 and I'll watch it knowing if nothing else, I'll get a kick out of the decor.

It seemed like it would last forever, too. It felt more like "the new way" than the fad it turned out to be. Unlike our parents, we had color TV, erasable pens, video games--we thought the future had arrived. We were the first generation to be professional kids.

And in New England, if you had any illusions of growing up, you wanted to live right where Jim Rice lived--in the grass at the foot of the big green wall. Did you know the Green Monster had wood-paneling for a brief time in '77? Mom, that's a joke.

Jim Rice is finally a Hall of Famer, but he's always been much more than that. He's the President of our United Childhood in America. The God Who Did Answer Letters. The Bendy Straw That Stirs The Tang. The Polyester Horse. The Sultan of Shag. Congratulations to The Man, The Myth, The Mustache, Jim Rice.

Great writing and such a great tribute that the 70s and 80s and Mr. Jim Ed Rice, Hall of Famer. Jere, you have your Mom's writing genes floating somewhere in your DNA. It shows!
Unlike many people, I enjoy his contrariness. Too many dullards in organized baseball these days.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States