Ted Williams, the greatest Boston Red Sox hitter ever, went 4 for 8, including blasting a home run, stroking a double, driving in five runs, walking once and scoring three times during a doubleheader sweep over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, July 8, 1956 at Fenway Park.
Ernie Paicopolos, who grew up in Somerville and has been an Andover resident since 1998, was there at the ballpark that day watching Williams from Section 19, Row 4, Seat 18.
Nine days ago, Paicopolos wrote about that game on the website, FenwayNation.com, his labor of love that has become quite popular over the years since Paicopolos first launched it in January 2000.
FenwayNation.com routinely receives more than four million hits per year and has each of the past three years. It also had visitors from approximately 106 different countries last year alone.
"Fifty-five years ago today, I attended my first game at Fenway Park," Paicopolos wrote on the site and blog July 8 while also posting a photo of his ticket from that game.
"My Dad brought me up the ramp and showed me the green splendor for the very first time. Yes, the world actually was in color in the 1950s."
Paicopolos went on to write about how his dad paid $1.90 for each of their tickets and how he himself kept thinking that the Baltimore Orioles players forgot to wash their uniforms.
"They (the uniforms) were a dismal grey compared with the brilliant Red Sox whites," Paicopolos wrote. "I know Ted Williams was in the lineup, but I can't honestly say I remember what he did. I was only 4."
Paicopolos loves the Red Sox, and his passion for them shines through in his writing/website posts.
He admits he is not an unbiased sports journalist. He just enjoys writing about the Red Sox when he has time away from his real job at a public opinion research firm, Opinion Dynamics Corporation, in Waltham.
Paicopolos is the editor and chief of the website, which has many features, including game summaries, opinion columns, polls, Red Sox anecdotes such as the one about Paicopolos' first game and links to other Red Sox news and websites.
So how did the idea to launch a website come about?
"Well, at work there were a bunch of guys who — like at any office — would shoot the breeze about the Red Sox every morning," Paicopolos said. "And we all had these very opinionated points of view. We often disagreed and had different thoughts about what should be done. So I thought, 'What we should do is we should put this all down instead of just shooting the breeze at the water cooler. Why don't we actually put it down in writing and put in on a website.'
"We're not an objective bunch of journalists. We're fans first and foremost."
Paicopolos' wife Gail Bloom added about her husband: "He's a passionate baseball fan. ... (And doing the website) has brought out a new talent for him. He didn't do a lot of writing until he developed the website."
Paicopolos' passion for the Red Sox can be traced back to July 8, 1956.
But Paicopolos actually decided to become a Baltimore Orioles fan in 1966.
"I got so frustrated with the Red Sox not winning anything in the early to mid-'60s that for one year I switched over and rooted for the Orioles based only on a really good experience I had talking to some Orioles players," he said. "Back then, you could literally walk down and sit behind the visiting dugout because there was nobody in (Fenway). So you could get real close to the players.
"So a friend of mine and myself started chatting with some Orioles players, particularly Brooks Robinson. They were just pretty nice. We figured, 'What the heck? We'll start rooting for the Orioles.'"
But Paicopolos returned to Red Sox Nation after just one year.
"It was guilt - 100 percent guilt," Paicopolos said. "And my dad made me feel bad about it because he was a Red Sox fan, so he kind of shamed me into starting to root for the Red Sox again."
Paicopolos returned just in time: 1967 — the year of the Impossible Dream. The Red Sox went from finishing ninth in the standings in 1966 to finishing first in the standings in 1967 with a 92-70 record.
Paicopolos was hooked from there on — and he is such an avid Sox fan that his wife and parents bought him a spot to participate in the 1992 Red Sox Fantasy Camp in Winter Haven, Fla.
In his biography on his website, Paicopolos mentions that he got an RBI off former Red Sox starting pitcher Luis Tiant during the camp. The site also has picture of him connecting on Tiant's pitch.
"The real truth behind it was that it wasn't on a ringing base hit or anything," Paicopolos said, chuckling, during his interview with The Eagle-Tribune. "It was a groundball to deep shortstop with a guy on third base and less than two outs."
Paicopolos' favorite sports moment, like most Sox fans, was watching the final out of the 2004 World Series when Boston won its first championship in 86 years.
"It was absolutely magical — it was the most exciting thing I've ever experienced in sports," he said. "Just the thrill of seeing that final out, it just wiped out all of the suffering and all of the misery in just one moment. It was spectacular."
The Red Sox have won two World Series championships in the past seven years (2004, 2007), but Paicopolos still gets upset over some Red Sox' losses.
He spoke with The Eagle-Tribune in May right after Daniel Bard blew a game.
"In perspective, it's a meaningless game in May, but I get really upset about it and I know a lot of people that do," he said. "Or if they lose a game to some crappy team like Kansas City, it gets me upset almost as much as it did before 2004."
But Paicopolos cannot just think about something else to help ease his mind after a Red Sox' loss. He instead has to go to his computer and start typing about the game despite the misery he is feeling.
"At first it was just five or six guys writing their opinion," he said. "Slowly but surely it started to get more and more popular. And we started doing game summaries and making it sort of a one-stop source if you wanted to follow the Red Sox. There are stats, links to all the media sites."
Paicopolos said the website doesn't make any money, although he does have advertisements on his site for some ticket brokers.
Nowadays, Paicopolos does approximately 85 percent of the writing on the website. He has a few other contributors.
"It really is kind of a labor of love," he said. "I just try to find the time. ... I enjoy doing it. I spend way too much time on it."