EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 23, 2013

Thelma Halberstadt roots relentlessly and religiously for Red Sox

By Paul Tennant
ptennant@eagletribune.com

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Residents on the same floor as Thelma Halberstadt at the Edgewood Retirement Community can easily find out how the Red Sox did in their most recent game.

All they have to do is look at the two little Wallys — as in Wally the Green Monster — perched on the small shelf next to her door. If the Wallys are sitting upright, the Sox have won.

If they’re lying face down, the Old Town Team has lost.

Halberstadt, 83, began her love affair with baseball deep in the heart of (perish the thought) Yankees country — but she was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Originally from Garden City on Long Island, she said she was thrilled when at 16, she was allowed to go to Ebbets Field on her own.

Then tragedy struck. Her beloved Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957.

“I hated them. I thought my baseball life was over,” she said.

She soon recovered and found a new true baseball love: The Red Sox.

She and her husband, Louis Halberstadt, a chemical engineer who died a year and a half ago, moved to Massachusetts. It didn’t take long for her to embrace The Team, even during the 1950s and early ‘60s, when they weren’t doing very well.

Halberstadt and her husband were high school sweethearts and were married for 61 years.

She kept telling him she wanted season tickets for the Sox and finally got them in 1978. She’s had them ever since and when she goes to a game, “someone from the family goes with me,” she said.

She’ll be at Fenway Park today, accompanied by her son-in-law, Richard Reidy. She’ll be in Section 16, Row 2, the reserved seats behind the pitcher’s mound.

When does she expect the Sox to win the 2013 World Series?

“Game 6,” she said.

Who’s her favorite Red Sox player?

“Dwight Evans. I got to meet him and he put me on his lap.”

How did she feel when she watched that infamous Game 6 of 1986, when the Sox were just an out away from clinching their first championship since 1918 and that supposedly easy ground ball eluded Bill Buckner?

“I could not believe it,” she said, adding that it wasn’t fair to heap all that abuse on Buckner.

So what about 18 years later, when the curse was finally broken?

“I felt like I was the richest person in the world,” she said.

When a visitor enters Halberstadt’s apartment, it’s obvious that a “very ardent” Red Sox fan lives there. Hanging on the wall is a jersey signed by all members of the 2004 team. Her son-in-law got that for her.

Her walls are decorated with numerous pictures of Red Sox teams and players, the book “Ted Williams at War” rests on a coffee table — the Splendid Splinter served as a Navy pilot in World War II and a Marine aviator in the Korean War — and she wears a Red Sox watch.

When the Sox played on the West Coast, where the games don’t start until 10 p.m. here, she would go to bed listening to the action.

“My husband would say, ‘She goes to bed with nine men,’” Halberstadt joked.

There is much more to this woman than her passion for the Red Sox. Before retiring, she was a professor of nursing at Northern Essex Community College. She earned a doctorate in nursing.

She and her husband moved to Andover in 1973, lived there for many years, then moved to Edgewood seven years ago. She is a longtime member of Temple Emanuel in Andover.

She has three daughters and six grandchildren. Minda Reidy teaches math at Andover High School. Rendi Mann-Stadt was a nurse who earned a master of business administration degree, then went to law school. She practices law in North Carolina.

Caren Hughes earned a doctorate in pharmacology and works as a pharmacist.

Halberstadt finally forgave those darned Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn. When the Dodgers celebrated their 50th anniversary in L.A., she was at that game.