My Aunt, the Nonagenarian Nun Who Likes Sports

When my 90-year-old great aunt told me she was going to become a Mets fan, I tried to discourage her. My aunt is a nun and although the Mets need all the prayers they can get, I didn’t think she wanted an underachieving, disappointing team like the Mets invading her stress-free life. But after reading some of my early-season articles, Sister Lamese had made up her mind.

“Rooting for the Mets is risky business. Don’t get too attached; they will likely let you down,” I emailed her. My aunt’s response: “Andrew, you of little faith! Just wait and see. We might be surprised with our Mets.” In other words, “Ya Gotta Believe.”

I’ve written about my sports-loving family before, and that extends far up the family tree. My great Aunt Lamese and her sister, my great Aunt Naj, are both knowledgeable sports fans. (Aunt Naj deserves her own blog post, but I suppose she’ll have to wait until her 90th birthday. It’s only fair.) With football season upon us, my aunt will be checking the newspapers (yes, some people still read those) to keep tabs on Notre Dame and Michigan, since her nephews, nieces, and great nephews and nieces have ties to those schools.* No big story gets past her.

*Sister’s local papers have plenty of New York Giants coverage, so she is very familiar with Eli Manning. But when I mentioned Peyton in a post earlier this year, she emailed me to say, “I didn’t realize there were two Mannings, Eli and Peyton.” Perhaps there is no greater vindication for Eli’s success. If I had Eli’s email address, I would forward that to him, and he would definitely forward it to Peyton and his parents.

Sister Lamese has always followed baseball, but has never been a fan of any one team. In her convent, allegiances vary between the Yankees and Red Sox. I can only imagine what the trash talk is like. One of my aunt’s good friends, Sister Maria Charles, is a huge Red Sox fan. She could certainly hold her own in a Boston sports bar. I’ll have to get her take on the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, though Boston still has Sister Maria Charles’ favorite player, David Ortiz, so I’m sure she’s OK with the trade.

My Aunt Lamese dove head first into Mets fandom. She doesn’t sit and watch every game, like some of her fellow nuns, but if it’s close in the late innings she’ll watch. And she always checks the box scores and the standings. Of course, as the season went along, the content of her emails changed a bit. They went from “Our Mets are doing so well!” to “If only Washington and Atlanta would lose…” to “These days it seems to be one heartbreak after another. Hopefully, better days are coming.”

In August, my family visited Sister for her 90th birthday celebration. Sister was talking to my brother and me about the Mets’ young talent. “They have brought up some young men from the farm to help out, haven’t they?” she asked, which made us laugh because we thought Sister might be picturing an actual farm. Shame on us. “They have been calling up players from the minor leagues, right?” she asked, reminding us we should never underestimate her sports acumen. By next season she’ll be analyzing Ike Davis’ swing or asking us why Jon Niese doesn’t use his curveball more.

I haven’t gotten too many Mets-related emails from Sister lately, probably because the team has tanked and I, in turn, haven’t written much about them. But I know she is still paying attention, even if there’s no longer a need to check the standings. After all, Ya Gotta Believe.

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