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Tim Blagg

Tim Blagg: Seeing red over pink hats

Long-time Red Sox fans are having a ball.

For the first time in a year and a half, they can sit back and enjoy a game without worrying about a nutjob manager or fist-fights in the clubhouse, or ... beer and fried chicken?

The team is winning more than it loses, players actually seem to be talking to each other and having fun playing the game.

Starting pitchers are pitching well, relievers are throwing strikes and David Ortiz — Big Papi — is back glowering at the ball and slamming it off the Green Monster.

Things are back to normal in Red Sox Nation.

But there’s something strange going on.

See, back when the Sox were an actual contender for winning the World Series, and Fenway Park was really sold out all season long, the Nation began to get new recruits.

They paid top bucks for the best seats at Fenway, wore chinos and boat shoes without socks, expensive sunglasses with designer names on them, and lived in Cambridge.

And some of them — mostly the females — wore pink Red Sox ball caps.

I know, I know, REAL Sox caps are dark blue, with that iconic red “B” in the special “Bosox” typeface.

But there are also red caps with a blue “B,” white with a red brim, even blue with a green “B” and a yellow brim.

Yech!

And I’ve seen some locals wearing camo versions.

So what’s the big deal with pink?

Apparently, there’s some sort of pushback going on among diehard Sox fans — the ones who suffered through years of losing.

As the new fans began to flood into games, parking their Mercedes SUVs in the parking garages in the Fenway and noshing on tapas and white wine at local bistros before taking their luxury seats, ticket prices began to skyrocket. Two season tickets were selling for $8,000, with a waiting list of 7,500.

A third-base line seat sold for more than $100.

Long-time fans resented it, and resented even more the quick dispersal of the new people once the Sox started losing again.

“Rats deserting a sinking ship” was the kindest appellation.

And many of those rats, if you follow this season’s commentators, wore pink hats.

In a Boston Globe story about the caps, one bemused fan “soon found her pink hat was about as welcome here as an A-Rod shirt in the bleachers. Rather than a sign of support, the pink hat somehow outed her as a poseur, a bandwagon fan.

“I was watching a game on TV with a girlfriend of mine and the camera zoomed in on a female fan in a pink hat,” she said. “My friend went on a five-minute tirade about pink hats and how people who wear them are not real fans.”

Later, the woman threw her pink hat into the back of her closet.

“I had no idea how unwelcome it was,” she said.

The other day I heard a local radio ad, referencing “pink caps” in a derogatory way, so they’ve found their way into popular culture as a symbol of fair weather fans.

In the meantime, the players, wearing their standard caps (except for those odd times when baseball’s marketing geniuses decide that it’s time to deck out teams in their old-time uniforms — then the Sox wear plain white) are back to playing baseball.

And they’re doing a pretty good job of it, so far.

As of Sunday, they were 18-7, which is the best season start they’ve had in years.

Ortiz was batting over .500, despite his long layoff for a bad heel.

Boston manager John Farrell, a former pitching coach for the team, apparently has the guys well in hand with an old-fashioned, common sense approach to the game.

And Clay Buchholz is 5-0 after his win over Houston on Thursday, the first Boston pitcher to win his opening five starts since Josh Beckett in 2007 — when the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.

It seems like a good start, although Sox stalwarts are always steeled against sudden, inexplicable dives into losing — that’s part of following the Boston team.

A part that does not, I guess, include wearing a pink cap.

Blagg has been Editor of The Recorder since 1986. He lives in Greenfield and is a military historian with an interest in local history. He can be reached at: tblagg@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 250.

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