It's a great deal of pressure for a youngster, heading into his first postseason with only a few weeks in The Show under his belt. He was an early September call-up.
But the rookie appears to be handling all this newfound attention with aplomb. He doesn't say much, doesn't complain much. The only hint that the pressure's getting to him is a knack for wetting his pants.
His grandmother hails him as a sort of baseball Moses, a bonnet-clad messiah, the bambino who reversed the curse. There are great expectations for Championship Charlie.
That's the nickname that's been tagged to Charles Joseph Conners the Third, newborn son of Lisa DelTufo and Charlie Conners, two ardent Red Sox fans and Neponset residents who are hoping their son's September arrival spells the departure of the 85-year championship famine that has afflicted generations, which some attribute to a curse incurred by the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Ma and Pa are pretty good athletes themselves, and swear that Championship Charlie will surpass even their achievements, which line the walls of their downstairs Franconia Street apartment in her parents' house in the form of baseball, softball, and basketball trophies. There are more upstairs, daddy Charlie says, and another slew at his parents' place, less than a mile away, on Bloomington Street.
"Right when he's able to walk, he'll be running quick," says Charlie, who has begun working to develop his son's left-handed coordination, in the hopes the youngster will become a threat from both sides of the plate, or perhaps develop a left-handed jump shot.
The pro prospect's mother, more concerned with his immediate skills, says he's already a star. "He's great; he doesn't cry at all," she says. When he does, "just stick the binky in there and he's fine," she says, holding up a pacifier.
Less than a month old, Championship Charlie is a couched veteran of a Sox pennant drive; wrapped in swaddling clothes bearing the Red Sox insignia (with, his parents say, a "Yankees Yuck" shirt on the way), he has witnessed late-season heroics, and knows already to coo with concern when the matter of Pedro Martinez's September slump is mentioned.
"It seems like everything we got for the showers was geared toward sports," Charlie says. With a large family - both the DelTufos and the Conners boast deep and wide Dorchester roots - there's always an eager babysitter. Such support enabled the proud parents to attend a game against the Devil Rays at Fenway last month. The Sox, of course, won.
It's all part of the rookie's strong performance in the early part of what promises to be a fruitful career.
His grandmother, Maria DelTufo, certainly thinks so. In a maneuver part beaming grandmother, part shrewd agent, she has been touting Championship Charlie's championship pedigree over the Internet. In a widely-circulated e-mail, she pointed out that the son was born just three hours after his father "won the Cedar Grove Men's Softball Championship at Walsh," similar to his mother, who was born on July 23, 1986, a few hours after her dad, Joseph, won the first of several crowns in the same league.
This summer, a girls softball team coached by Lisa and Charlie, the Red Sox, captured its own championship.
The rings pile up. Championship Charlie's dad's squad took its second-consecutive Melissa Byrne Softball Tournament title this year, and Lisa's dad's crew took the Tommy Hawe Softball Tournament crown.
Even the moment of arrival was a good one for Boston sports fans. While Lisa was giving birth to the little bambino, the Patriots were beating up on the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of the season. The TV in the delivery room was shut off at halftime, and Charlie was born, exhibiting an early appreciation for team play, allowing the game to be turned back on for the second half.
In her e-mail, grandmother Maria pointed out that Charlie's birthdate, September 9, when written numerically corresponds twice with the uniform number worn by Boston's greatest player, Ted Williams.
What she didn't mention, and what a dwindling number of Sox fans were alive to remember, is that September 9 was a big day in Red Sox history as well. Because 86 years ago on September 9, the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, George Herman Ruth took the mound for Boston and beat the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, swatting a triple that plated the winning run. That's some babe.