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Kevin Cullen

Devoted to her Sox

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Kevin Cullen
Globe Columnist / April 14, 2008

Theresa Marie Freitas was sitting at the computer, in the living room, and she typed BIG PAPI into the search engine.

David Ortiz appeared on the screen wearing the same jersey, the same number 34, she was wearing.

"I like Big Papi," she says. "I like his swing. I like his smile."

Theresa Marie Freitas is 44 years old but she was made in such a way, God made her in such a way, that her mind has remained young.

When it comes to the Red Sox, she is a savant. She knows numbers. She knows names. She has an uncanny sense of who's not just a good player but a good guy. She has balanced a Kevin Youkilis card on the lower left corner of the 50-inch TV she begged her mother to buy. Jazzy, her cat, sleeps at the foot of the giant TV.

"I like Papelbon," Theresa Marie says. "I like the way he dances."

Don't talk to her about trading Coco Crisp. She loves Coco. She likes the kid, Ellsbury, too. But she loves Coco. There isn't a ball hit in the air that Coco can't run down, she will tell you. She looks at Coco's face in the photo she bought and she sees something.

"I think he's a nice person," she says.

There are, all over the North End, shrines. In an alley off Fleet Street, Theresa Marie Freitas has converted the house where she lives with her mother, the house where she has always lived with her mother, into a shrine to the Red Sox. She uses her Social Security checks to buy souvenirs and ink cartridges so she can print stuff off the computer. She uses Magic Markers to make posters, and she hangs them on the walls, in the windows.

She wears a Red Sox hat and jersey all day, every day. Her only concession is that, at bath time, at her mother's insistence, she removes the David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez bracelets. She watches every game. And then she watches the replay.

"I tell her, 'Theresa Marie, you already know the score.' But she likes watching the replay as much as the real game," her mother, Theresa Freitas, was saying.

Theresa Freitas lives with and for her daughter. She is a saint, but she doesn't want to hear it, because she is a mother and mothers love their children, and it's just as simple as that.

"I'm a chauffeur," she says. "Theresa Marie tells me where to go. I go."

Three years ago, they sat Theresa Marie down in an office at New England Medical Center and told her she had ovarian cancer. Theresa Marie is mentally retarded but she isn't stupid.

"Am I going to die?" she asked.

She got sick and wouldn't do the chemo. Her physician, Katie Wakeley, made a deal: If Theresa Marie would do the chemo, she'd get her some tickets.

Theresa Marie Freitas was 41 years old when she went to her first and only game at Fenway Park. It rained like hell. There was a three-hour delay. She wouldn't leave her seat. The Red Sox won.

She goes for chemo three times a month, and Wakeley went to check on her while she was hooked up to an IV. Theresa Marie had a newspaper spread out and was studying a box score, taking notes. She asked the doctor to come back later, when she wasn't so busy.

According to all the medical evidence, Theresa Marie Freitas is dying. But it's baseball season again, and spring is in the air, and just around the corner Dean Martin was singing "That's Amore" from the speakers at Martini's Smoke Shop.

Theresa Marie Freitas is alive, just like the Red Sox chances.

She has no doubt, no doubt at all, that the Red Sox will repeat as World Series champions.

She wants to see Papelbon dance.

Again.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.

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