By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — For her 11th wedding anniversary, Gina Gagne got the perfect gift from her husband.
“Some girls get jewelry and some girls get flowers,” the Plaistow resident said. “I’m quite happy with World Series tickets.”
Last week, Gagne, 35, received tickets for last night’s game from her husband, Paul, who is deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Navy. Gagne considers herself an avid fan, going to about 20 games per year and owning hundreds of items of Red Sox memorabilia.
“My love for the Red Sox goes back to my childhood,” Gagne said. “My grandmother was a huge Red Sox fan, who would constantly be screaming at the television. She taught me at a very young age how to say ‘Go, Red Sox.’”
Gagne, who works as a nurse at Lawrence General Hospital, said the Red Sox can often serve as a distraction to her husband being overseas.
“It helps me focus on something else,” she said. “It keeps me busy.”
For the last four years, Gagne has attended every home opener. She likes to get to games hours before they start, in hopes of meeting the players as they enter the park.
“Many players walk to the park before the game,” Gagne said. “A lot are really friendly. John Farrell has stopped to chat multiple times. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is always willing to stop and say hello outside the park.”
But her most memorable experience was with former Red Sox and current Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson. Gagne had written to many athletes and celebrities for words of encouragement in 2008 when Paul was deployed for the first time. Masterson was one of the people who wrote back to her. After a Red Sox-Indians game in 2011, Gagne was able to meet Masterson.
“We stood outside the door to the visitor’s locker room,” Gagne said. “With help from a security guard, we were able to meet him. We just wanted to say thank you to him, but it ended up being more like Justin thanking my husband. He couldn’t have been nicer.”
Gagne even has a unique tattoo around her right wrist of the seams of a baseball.
“I just love baseball so much,” Gagne said. “When I meet the players they love it, but at the hospital everyone thinks it’s from an industrial accident or something.”
Last year, during the 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park, Gagne received a pair of commemorative Fenway Park bricks. One brick was from her husband, another from one of her patients.
“I just happened to strike up a conversation with him and we just kept talking about baseball,” Gagne said. “It left such an impression on him, that he returned once he was well and left a package with an inscribed brick.”
The brick says “Gina RN ICU Singles Homers and No Errors.”
Her other brick sits in a unique location.
“My husband had bought some package through the Red Sox website and it came with a brick from Fenway Park,” she said. “My husband and I looked at each other and wondered what we were going to do with it. It had a authenticated sticker, but there was nothing on the brick that said it was from Fenway. So we decided to just put it in our front steps.”
Last night, Paul watched on television during the wee hours of the morning in Afghanistan, while Gagne went to the game with one of her colleagues from work
“They’ve been so much fun to watch this year,” Gagne said. “Hopefully, they get the job done.”