Boys of Summer

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I’ve seen that look before: in the eyes of 9- and 10-year-olds, Little Leaguers who’ve lost their season closer; teens whose high school playoff bid came to an abrupt end; and college players after a final out finished their playing careers. For the Boys of Summer, it can be brutal when the season’s over.

In the seconds after the final out that clinched Game Six of the World Series to give Boston another championship, Red Sox Nation unleashed a blast of cheers that filled the air and a roar that blanketed Fenway Park. But in front of the St. Louis Cardinals’ dugout, I saw what silence looks like.

We sometimes criticize professional athletes for giving in to greed, playing only for the money and fame, and letting the “spirit of the game” take a back seat to the business of it.

At the end of the game in the St. Louis dugout, the “professional face” seemed to disappear from the Cardinals’ expressions. They stood, leaned and sat – motionless – nothing happening throughout Fenway could pierce the noise-free bubble in their dugout. They felt the frustration of loving a game that has only one winner. Their game spirit drained, they seemed senseless. They probably weren’t thinking about bonuses, endorsements or salaries at that moment, just about the game they love to play and lost, and maybe about the time when they were just boys – these Boys of Summer. …

Copyright 2013 Kris Craig / Providence Journal

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