TOGUS — Wilbert Kelly remembers the day in October 1975 when patients on his floor at the VA hospital voted whether to watch the Boston Red Sox battle the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.

Kelly, of South Portland, had recently been discharged from the Navy, where he worked on submarines and was among those voting in the affirmative.

“We had to vote whether to stay up to watch the series,” Kelly said. “They wanted everybody to go to bed. It was a democratic vote. We all raised our hands, and that was World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.”

Veterans have historically gravitated toward their favorite sports teams as a touchstone to alleviate the boredom, horror and aftermath often associated with military service. In New England, that team is often the Red Sox.

They drew a little closer to the Old Towne Team on Wednesday as the two most recent Red Sox World Series trophies went on display in the gazebo behind the complex of VA Maine Healthcare System-Togus buildings.

The trophies, along with Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster and a group of Fenway ambassadors, are making the rounds this week to veterans’ hospitals throughout New England. The tour is part of a larger program called “100 Acts of Kindness,” which recognizes the work of charitable organizations during Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. The Togus visit was the 29th stop on the tour.

Veterans, many in wheelchairs and decked out in Red Sox gear, poured out of the buildings to have their pictures taken with the trophies from 2004 and 2007. Wally was a part of many of those photos.

“It’s wonderful,” tour organizer Steve Oliveira said. “This is the heart of Red Sox Nation. Some of these veterans have been fans for 60 or 70 years and have seen the good times and the bad.”

Bob Gibson was on hand, too. Not the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who beat the Sox in Game 7 in 1967, but the World War II veteran from Auburn of the same name.

Gibson, 92, served in the South Pacific and has been at Togus for only three months. He watches the Sox on TV in his room almost every night.

“There are a lot of new players there,” he said. “They’re a hitting outfit, I can see that, but the pitching needs a little improvement.”

To most in attendance on Wednesday, Boston still seemed buried in its poor start despite a five-game winning streak. This did little to discourage many of the diehards who have seen their share of low-points over the years.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve had my ups and downs with them like any other Red Sox fan,” said Army veteran Butch Ferris, who wore a bright Red Sox jersey.

He added with a chuckle, “They’re on a roll now; they might get out of the cellar.”

There was a steady stream of visitors at the gazebo. The trophies were taken to individual rooms for those who were unable to go see it, allowing them to connect once more with the team that played a significant part in their lives.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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