Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

July 18, 2013

A lead-off fan; Sox devotee shares his love for the home team

Sox devotee shares his love for the home team

By Dustin Luca

---- — He knows what you’re probably thinking: Does the world really need another book about Red Sox fans?

Andover native Ernie Paicopolos answers a most assured yes.

And that might be because he’s one of the Beantown bombers’ most ardent fans.

Paicopolos is among devotees from around the globe who have sought to capture the inner essence of the team’s fandom in a new book titled “Fenway Fanatics: 50 Boston Red Sox Fans Tell Their Stories.”

In addition to contributing a story about how Boston’s boys of summer have deepened the bond between fathers and sons in his family, Paicopolos also penned the forward to the book.

The book itself was written by Greg Pearson, a Connecticut native who today works for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin.

Pearson interviewed Paicopolos for a chapter in the book and also reached out to him to bring in other fans worthy of being immortalized in print for their love of the Sox.

While telling his fan story wasn’t difficult, Paicopolos said writing the forward proved somewhat challenging.

“I had never written a forward before, had no clue what to do,” he said. “I Googled, ‘How do you write a forward?’”

What he soon discovered is the core of Red Sox fandom “is almost inexplicable. You can’t communicate it.”

Each profile in the book has a theme and Paicopolos’ story gets to the core of the human spirit, focusing on the father-son bond seen throughout Red Sox nation.

Paicopolos shares the story of game two of the 1961 All-Star Game, played in Fenway Park, back when the All-Star Games were played in pairs on both coasts.

The game stood out for him on many levels. Names like Clemente, Mathews, Mays, Kaline and Mantle dominated the starting rosters. It was the first All-Star Game to ever end in a tie — something that wasn’t repeated until 2002.

But what Paicopolos remembers most is being there as a 10-year-old with his dad.

Almost 40 years later, Paicopolos got to return the favor by bringing his pop to the All-Star Game when it finally returned to Fenway in 1999.

Those two All-Star Games “cemented our relationship around the Red Sox,” Paicopolos said of he and his dad.

Eight years later, Paicopolos was able to pay it forward to the next generation of fans when he brought his own son, who was about 10 at the time, to game one of the 2007 World Series between the Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.

Another chapter in the book highlights a nun who says she “was almost religiously devoted to Ted Williams” and later fulfilled a lifelong dream of singing the national anthem in Fenway Park in 1995.

There’s also the story of a man from Uzbekistan, who describes his experience using military satellite networks to watch Red Sox games at 4 a.m., when they’re broadcast live. He’d cheer along with members of the Tashkent Red Sox Fan Club, which he helped run.

The stories do “a good job drilling down to the DNA of what it means to be a Red Sox fan,” Paicopolos said. They also show diehard fans they’re not alone.

“If it’s so ingrained (in) your body that you can’t define it ... if it’s integral to your personality, you’re a Red Sox fanatic,” he said.

There’s also the entertainment value in the tales.

“Some of these stories are just so entertaining and bizarre,” he said. “(Readers) might see some commonalities in each of these stories and relate to the ways they are Red Sox fans.”