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Story of Fenway wedding couple more than Tweets

The film would be called: "You've Got Mail Meets Fever Pitch."

Quincy [Ill.] High School assistant baseball coach Cody Anderson and Shannon Armitage are a young newlywed couple who first met on Twitter as Red Sox fans in 2011 and then got married Friday at Fenway Park. Today, Anderson is back at work as a middle-school PE teacher and Armitage is preparing for a move up-state to Chicago and a new job as an insurance company project manager.

In that film, which in no way could top their real-life story, Cody fancies his wife being played by Anna Kendrick.

Shannon likes Chris Hemsworth, "the short-haired version, not the 'Thor' version," in the role of her die-hard, Red Sox fan husband.

Their marriage may have been the only positive thing spawned by the Red Sox amid the wreckage of the 2011 season, besides, of course, the ascension of Ben Cherington into the general manager's role.

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News of their wedding day at Fenway Park spread quickly across social media and the internet during Boston's home Opening Day loss to the Brewers. But their real love story between Shannon and Cody goes far deeper than any series of Tweets and photos, none of which were sponsored by anyone, that millions saw over the weekend.

Sunday night, as they rested, recovered and eased back toward normalcy, the couple reflected on their wedding, how they became husband and wife offered thanks to all who made their "once-in-a-lifetime" day possible.

“We married our best friends," Cody said. "We were watching the Red Sox game on TV [Sunday] and it was hard to believe that we were just there, getting married."

"Friday was a dream come true. We're so grateful for everything that happened," Shannon said.

"We got our dream wedding. We got a day better than we could imagined," said Cody. "During our vows, I said 'I promised to try and make every day better than the last, even though after today I’m already screwed.'”

Their courtship began on Aug. 10, 2011, when the Red Sox posted this tweet for Shannon, a Bay State native, at the request of her sister, Ashley.

[Ashley's role, by the way, goes to Rebel Wilson, according to Shannon.]

The Tweet caught the eye of Cody [@Jacody4], who just happened to be living in John W. Henry's hometown of Quincy, Ill..

A Twitter follow followed.

Tweets turned into direct messages. Shannon, 27, who calls herself "extremely cautious about everything" eventually took a leap of faith and connected with Cody, 26, via Skype on March 28, 2012. "I figured this guy is really nice. What do I have to lose?" Shannon told The OBF Blog Sunday night in a phone conversation with her husband. "Skype allowed me to keep my contact info secret. That day would have his dad's 59th birthday. We spoke for two hours." They have spoken over the phone, Skyped or been together in person every day since.

Their digital affair turned into an eventual real-life meetup during Memorial Day Weekend in 2012, just as the Red Sox were lurching toward unconditional collapse and their worst finish in 47 years. Armitage, who is from Southwick, Mass. visited Anderson in Illinois. They each turned out to be real human beings. Sorry, "Catfish." He was actually a he and she was actually she. "I was real, I wasn’t a psychopath," Cody said. "Obviously we hoped everything would be better in person, it was like we had known each other our whole lives. Her parents were anxious. I figured either way my life is going to be a movie. Either she’s going to be a psychopath or we’ll fall in love. We ended up in love."

Neither was a wanted criminal nor trying to escape a marriage or cult [well, aside from being Boston sports fans]. As the Red Sox were finally breaking the thaw of their Baseball Nuclear Winter in February 2013, Cody proposed. As the Red Sox were turning Boston into #WalkOffCity, they moved into together as a couple in July 2013.

The couple's #DoubleRingCeremony took play inside Fenway Park on the right-field deck about five hours before the Red Sox faced the Brewers Friday. There were 17 people in attendance, including officials from the Red Sox, a photographer, a videographer and Justice of The Peace Carol J. Merletti.

Cody and Shannon tied the knot Friday. [Caorl Merletti]
Cody and Shannon tie the knot Friday. [photo via Caorl Merletti/Facebook]

They were the 41st couple Merletti has married at Fenway Park. "They are an awesome couple! I love their story!," Merletti told The OBF Blog via Twitter Sunday. "The Red Sox treated them like gold, which thrilled me."

Cody and Shannon shared their wedding day play-by-play via Twitter because it was both how they met and to share the experience with family and friends. All of Cody's relatives and pals, aside from his mom, were in Illinois and could not be at Fenway Park on Friday.

Wedding Day nerves were in evidence:

"You may kiss the bride."

Not sponsored by Samsung, thank goodness.

Also included in the Wedding Day photo gallery, Boston Police Officer and the nation's most famous bullpen cop, Steve Horgan.

But there is far more to this tale of two young Red Sox fans who found each other on Twitter just prior to the worst moments in his life as a son and their lives as Red Sox fans. More than can be captured in 140 characters or by the most innocent of selfies.

Cody Anderson's passion for the Red Sox has nothing to do with any geographical connection he shares with the owner of the Red Sox, the Boston Globe and The Parent Company of This Blog.

His affection for all things Red Sox grew as tall as the summer corn in Downstate Illinois for the same reason you, me and millions of others became Red Sox fans: His dad was a Red Sox fan. More specifically, a Carl Yastrzemski fan. Being a Red Sox fan in Southern Illinois means limited opportunities to see the team in person. Cody and his father made it to Fenway Park together once, for an interleague series against the Brewers in 2008, to celebrate his 21st birthday.

"My dad was a huge Red Sox fan, huge Yaz fan, he always wore No. 8. Even in Illinois, my whole family grew up Red Sox fans, always watching the games with him," Cody said.

As Cody and Shannon were growing their relationship on Twitter and watching the Red Sox crumble in September of 2011, Stan Anderson was losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. He died on Oct. 10, 2011, while the rest of us were awash in chicken and beer.

"On his tombstone he has Yaz's No. 8, a Red Sox hat and a giant picture of Fenway," Cody said. "I always wear No. 4, we were originally looking to get married on 4-4-2015. We always joked we’d get married during the World Series. But last year, we could not make that happen. We then decided if the Red Sox won the World Series, we’d get married on Opening Day outside Fenway Park. That date turned out to be 4-4-14 – against the Brewers."

"I thought it was so crazy. It was a sign from my dad that Opening Day ends up being 4-4, they’re playing the Brewers, the only team I had seen play at Fenway, they were celebrating their eighth World Series. It just all came together. It was meant to be."

The couple's original plan was to get married next to the Yaz statue outside Fenway Park. A family friend of the Anderson family with connections in the media industry and within the Red Sox told the team about the couple's story and their wedding plans. Once Red Sox promotional maestro Dr. Charles Steinberg and his team got involved, a planned quick ceremony outside Fenway Park was moved inside to the right-field deck, performed on the same day the team received their 2013 World Series rings. Tweeted virtually live the ceremony became a world-wide, real-life version of "You've Got Mail at a Fever Pitch."

When Anderson found out a week ago today the wedding was going to be held inside Fenway Park, a local TV crew from Quincy, Ill., was there to capture it. [Again, it helps to know people who know people.]

All the rest, from how they first met on Twitter, to how they began Tweeting, DMing, Skyping and texting each other, to how they first met in person and had more "Team Chemistry" than the 2013 Red Sox, to her helping him deal with the loss of his father, to their relationship growing as the Red Sox experienced their renaissance throughout the sports soul of New England, to his proposal and her acceptance, to their life together, to their love for the Red Sox - is 100 percent organic.

It stands on the other end of the digital universe from every faux Tweet, to every staged fake yet "newsworthy" You Tube video, and every corporate-sponsored selfie, in the history of pixels.

Friday's Red Sox World Series celebration was tinged with sadness. The remembrance of those who perished in the Boston Marathon Bombings and their aftermath, along with Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy and Boston Fire Department Lt. Edward J. Walsh, Jr., brought a level of sobriety and real-worldness to the party. Goosebumps made only bigger by the 40-degree temperatures that felt more like 14 degrees.

Cody and Shannon's day was equally triumphant and bittersweet.

"The day was so perfect. Before the wedding, I was out in right field. Looking down at the field and looking up at the sky, I could truly feel my dad with me and how proud he was," Cody said. "I started crying, but it made me feel good. Then we turned around and it was time to get married. You look back at those harder times – but the day in itself was celebratory. I knew he was there."

Brick.jpgThen there's the Fenway Brick. You know, one of those same [expletive] bricks that so many of us, myself included, mocked, ridiculed and beat the Red Sox over the head with during all that was 2011 and '12. For Shannon's new husband and his family, their "Fenway Brick" was a way to show a dying father one more time just how much he was loved. "We got him one for Father’s Day in 2011," Cody said. "He loved it so much. It brought him to tears that part of him will always be at Fenway Park. Shannon’s family had a brick, too. Ours happened to be put in the same exact section – the 'Wally The Green Monster' section. This is before we even knew each other at all. They're about 10 feet apart."

After the ceremony, to their surprise, Cody and his mother were led to the spot of their father's brick. They had never seen it in person. It was the emotional trigger that you'd might expect. "There were lots of hugs afterward," Shannon said. "I wanted them to have their moment together and be there to support him."

"Even the people from the Red Sox were crying as well, they deal with this all the time, and they actually really cared," Cody said. "It showed the story meant something to them."

How can something that carries so much emotional importance for one family be anywhere near something called the "Wally The Green Monster" section? It's enough to make you laugh, cry, scream and smile, all at the same time. Maddening and memorable, another example of how, when done right [see all that was 2013 and Friday's pre-game ceremonies], that the Red Sox mean so much to so many beyond simply fodder for the talk shows, sports sections and a way to kill time between football seasons.

The Red Sox, their courtship and that magical day at Fenway Park will be a part of Christmas dinners and family celebrations for years to come in Cody and Shannon's household. And, in case you were wondering like all their family friends are, there are no immediate plans for children. Shannon is moving to Chicago for her new job and Cody will join her for good after the school year. "We have to settle down first. But we'll see what happens," she said.

They hope to have kids, someday, perhaps a little Dustin or, if it's a girl, Dusty?

Boy or girl, both agree there is one certainty for their kids: "They will be raised to be Red Sox fans."

The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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