Archive for the ‘Jim Rice’ Category
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 30, 2009
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 28, 2009
Long after we sat down in our folding chairs facing the induction stage and jumbotron, Dorkus White of Bennington, Vermont bared his spooky grin. “Mind if we pull up next to you ?”
I nodded affirmatively. A light aroma of body odor wafted in the air. He plunked into his seat. “You don’t mind since I’m not wearing any of that YANKEE SHIT !”, he snarled.
I am no Yankee fan for sure, but my hackles were up.
I am too old to fight. I am too smart to fight. But I cannot tolerate those who begin a conversation by disrespecting the traditions of other fans. I was pissed.
My anxiety level was up from spending 4 hours in a car with nothing but prunes, coffee and peanuts in my belly.
I was ornery.
I clenched my left hand into a fist and drew it back, positioned to thwock this boob and lead with my wedding ring.
Then I thought about the resultant civil suit and relaxed, so as to preserve my home, my 401K and all other small assets so that they may be picked over by my children, and their future generations to come.
We met all kinds this day, Sun., Sept. 26, 2009 in Cooperstown. Without even trying, we spoke with 30-odd fans who flew in from the Oakland area, others from St. Louis, Kansas, Virginia, Staten Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. As expected, Baltimoreans made their presence felt during the national anthem by Shouting “O !” instead of “Oh, say can you see?”
These were baseball loving people from all over the States. They treated each other well, and showed their loyalty is expected and curious ways.
The streets of Cooperstown were populated with young and old, trim and fat, Black, White, Hispanic and Asian.
They were decked out in mustard green, baby blue, Redbird red, road greys, home whites and the multi-colored Houston horizon.
We were at The United Nations of Baseball. 20,000 of us sat comfortably in our lawn chairs on a great field.
A delegate from Alexandria testified on the greatness of Stan Musial, he with 3,630 hits – exactly half of them on the road. A delegate from St. Louis railed against the unbearably high cost of All Star Game tickets. A delegate from Mississippi invoked State birth rights and claimed ownership of one Jonathan Papelbon, who currently resides in Boston.
Secret languages were being spoken. Everyone understood every word of it. Those who confessed to ignorance became learned.
On this field and in the village, 20,000 hard-wired Baseball fans, age 2 to 92 walked, sprinted, sat and leisurely strolled through Cooperstown, engaged in conversation.
The talk was unrelenting.
20,000 pilgrims expressed a baseball thought every 15 seconds for 10 hours, resulting in 480,000,000 baseball opinions.
Not one positive thing was said about Bud Selig.
Dorkus was a sinner. This runt of a man was given to excess. Excess eating, and by his smell, excessive sweating. 5 ft., 5 inches tall and 260 lbs., he wore non-matching green cargo shorts and a yellow-and-white checkered shirt from the mark down table at Ocean State Job Lot. His gnarly toe nails stared up at me from a pair of open toed flip flops.
As he skootched his chair so close to me that our armrests interlocked, I swear I heard him fart.
He pushed back his oily hair with one hand, then followed it with the other, snugging a Red Sox cap, a 1946 Cooperstown Collectible repro, above his greasy brow.
This pig of a man……like me…..was a Red Sox fan.
Dorkus White, on a one-day parole from his trailer park, scanned the crowd of 20,000, observing the stage and Baseball circus before us.
He smiled broadly.
Judy Gordon is a lean, lion-maned, energetic woman who conjures the intellect and grace of a PBS historian. She stood up for her family and accepted the HOF plaque for her Father, Joe Gordon.
Gordon, a second bagger, clouted 253 HR’s, a remarkable total for a keystoner. He batted .278, beat Ted Williams for the 1942 MVP, played the field acrobatically. He won FIVE World Championships with the Yankees and Indians in an 11-year war-interrupted career.
Judy was the first speaker to draw emotions. Although the day was marked by lusty cheering and standing ovations from fans of Rickey & Jim, it was Joe Gordon’s girl who compelled thousands to choke up.
As Judy Gordon closed her summary of Joe Gordon’s life and career, she explained how personal humility stopped him from allowing a funeral to be conducted.
There had been no service for Joe Gordon upon his death in 1978, Judy said.
Her voice shut down with emotion. She breathed silently, trying to gather herself.
In that instant, all realized that Gordon had passed from this Earth without a celebration of his life. No gathering. No chit chat about his exploits and loves. No public recognition of the impact he had on others.
Judy explained that on this day, July 26, 2009, the family considered this induction ceremony to be Joe Gordon’s funeral celebration, and his eternal resting place to be the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jim Ed Rice is many things. Put your arm around the “Boston Strong Man” and feel the shoulder muscles that writhe like a barrel of snakes. Stick a microphone in front of him and hear him elaborate like an Emerson graduate. Take him off camera and hear him talk about the importance of family, love, and teamwork.
Rice’s speech dragged a finger across the arc of human life. Youthful days enjoyed. Finding the love of your life. Earning what you own. Bringing children into the world. Experiencing many, many pleasures, and then knowing the confounding joy of grandchildren.
The man who once allegedly deposited a reporter upside down in a locker room garbage can made his induction speech about family, love, marriage, teammates.
He honored Johnny Pesky, his personal batting coach and BP pitcher in Jim’s rookie season. He honored Celcil Cooper, his roommate.
He did not back away from his denial that war with the media had hurt him. Instead, he pointed out the irony that he had become one of them.
Jim Rice. Ed Rice. Poppa. Uncle Jim. Jim the Friend Who Never Calls You Back.
Jim Ed said that he is all of the above.
He said he is also Jim the Grateful.
Though massive talents and achievements prevented Jim’s words from resonating with humility this day, the cocky confidence that marbled his words was not unbecoming.
He knows what is important. And he knows he belongs in Cooperstown.
The High School Baseball Coach brought ice cream to Rickey’s home to recruit him.
His Mom told him to stop with the Football, and concentrate on the diamond.
A teacher offered him 25 cents for every hit, run and stolen base he made. He made cash money.
Rickey’s life has turned on small things.
As the entire baseball world waited for Rickey to float into a eubonic-plagued “Rickey-says-this and Rickey-says-that” soliloquy, Rickey Henderson instead carefully enunciated a well constructed speech of gratitude.
He recognized Billy Martin as a great manager. He pointed to his best friend, Dave Stewart. He allowed that his wife of 30 years, Pamela, has supported him in all that he has done.
Rickey hit every consonant. (And a few that do not normally get hit.)
He spoke carefully, making every syllable heard.
He had prepared his ass off.
What else would you expect from the man who scored more runs than anyone (2,295), stole more bases than anyone (1,406), and led off more games with a HR than anyone (81)?
As Bill James once said, he’s so good you could split him in half and get two HOF’ers.
Rickey was not going to be embarrassed at his celebration.
And, oh the numerous A’s fans did rejoice. They played banjo, danced, shouted and screamed. They let out their Rickey Love, their A’s Ardor. They represented the Bay Area impressively.
They may have outshined Red Sox Nation, which interrupted Rice with a loud “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant just as he started, and earlier gave Yaz a long and loving ovation.
You just had to tip your hat to the many from Oakland who traveled 3,000 miles. Decked in splendor, elephants on their sleeves, mustard on their jerseys, they soared on the achievements of a player the likes of which we will never see again.
Dorkus White of Bennington, Vt. had impressed me.
There were his loathsome characteristics, sure. But his heart seemed to be in the right place.
Dorkus had jumped to his feet and cheered 92-year-old patriot, Bob Feller. He had hollered for Yaz, Yogi, Koufax and Reggie. He had applauded Rickey when the speedy one paid respect to Roberto Clemente.
I had observed that a small, yet warm, heart was radiating from his unwashed and ill-clad breast.
Still, I didn’t want to get too close to Dorkus as the wife and I pulled up stakes. I moved silently and avoided eye contact.
Then the filfthy, decent little Dorkus reached out to me with a friendly shake and a warm goodbye.
I realized that Dorkus White, Red Sox fan of Bennington, Vt., had had a pretty good day.
He is overall, it seems, a pretty damn good baseball fan.
Posted in Boston Red Sox, Hall of Fame, Jim Rice, Oakland A's, RED SOX, Rickey Henderson | Tagged: Cooperstown, Hall of Fame, Jim Rice, Oakland Athletics, RED SOX, Rickey Henderson | Leave a Comment »
Posted by athomeatfenway on August 16, 2008
Tue., Aug. 12 at Fenway
A 10 run 1st inning with two 3-run HR’s by Ortiz.
Are we done ?
Sox Rookie Knuckler savaged. Cannot hold 10 run lead.
You good now ?
1st inning: Sox 10, Rangers 0.
3rd inning: Sox 12, Rangers 2.
5th inning: Sox 14, Rangers 10.
7th inning: Sox 15, Rangers 16.
8th inning: Sox 19, Rangers 16.
Do we need to go further?
Rain threatened at 4 p.m. The Fenway auto-receptionist informed callers “that the possibility of a rain delay or postponement was unknown, and that all ticket office personnel would be ignorant about game status, so hang up the damn phone, watch the road, or get back to work, but stop obsessing. And get here early. Our beer is still value priced at $7.50.”
The drive from Connecticut on the Mass Pike was balmy, except for a shower in Worcester.
Bright sunshine heated the Boston sidewalks on the hopeful walk from O’Leary’s on Beacon Street to Yawkey Way.
Hoping to stay dry on the RF Roof.
Hoping Zink’s in the pink. That Zink no stink.
Hoping the Manny-less Sox will hit, & that the Bullpen will be steady.
Hoping the home-heavy schedule will help propel Boston to the AL East Title.
The Right Field Roof Boxes are fabulous – and old. Installed in 1946, these seats (RF Roof sec. 21 to 43) are located in front of Conigliaro’s Corner, and in between the Budweiser Roof Deck and the Pavilion level seats. Sitting in this section, I saw Dwight Evans crash a bullpen HR on-the-line in 1988. The vantage point is virtually equal to the Monster seats and lower in cost at (just) $50.
Rodolfo, Fenway usher extraordinaire, escaped from Cuba in 1966. Rodolfo is often asked if he is Italian because of his thick, possibly Mediterranean-sounding accent. But he is Cuban, and proud of it. He stands about 5’6”, a solid 180 lbs.. He leads RF Roof ticket holders to their appointed seats and shoos away random gawkers who freeload on the walkway at the back of his turf. He is in charge. He keeps the scene orderly and polite. This 82-year-old fireplug could pass for late-60’s.
Rodolfo started as a Fenway usher in 1974 and never left. He put in over 25 years in the Left Field and Home Plate Grandstand before moving to the Roof a few years ago.
Rodolfo has seen nearly every major event in Sox history over 34 years. That includes Fisk’s Game 6 HR, Dent’s 1978 playoff game HR with the illegal bat, and the 2004 & 2007 World Series.
Harper, Yaz, Fisk, Lynne, Rice, Tiant, Clemens, Boggs, Pedro, Manny, Nomar. The only thing he missed was Yaz’s last game. He chose to vacation in Hawaii instead. Not a bad trade off.
Before the 2004 season, his faith waned. He seriously doubted the Sox would ever win a World Championship.
I can’t blame him.
There is still a hole in my soul made by Aaron Boone. And Little Lee’s words ring in my ears, “Take him out ! Take Pedro out ! What’s Grady doing !?”
Rodolfo didn’t lose faith completely and he didn’t quit his gig. Thus, when 20 or more Fenway employees with 25+ years of service were honored last month, Rodolfo was among them. Lunch, photos, and the presentation of a 2007 Championship ring to every one of these long term Sox staffers.
Rodolfo readily admits the old owners were not as generous. They were cheap. They didn’t care.
Present ownership is so much smarter than the old regime. They know New England’s Soxaholism is limitless and gold-plated. They know guys and gals like Rodolfo are like rubies and sapphires, smaller gems that complement their crown jewel, Fenway Park.
Charlie Zink faced Ian Kinsler, the first opposing batter of his MLB career. 2 knucklers and a change induced a pop fly to Jason Bay, standing at the warning track in left. Michael Young than fouled out to Youk near first.
The 3rd out was recorded as Pedroia stabbed a sharp grounder.
running right and fired to first, beating by half a step the current AL RBI leader, Josh Hamilton.
Then, in the bottom of the first, powered by TWO 3-run HR’s by the Large Father, the Sox established a 10 – 0 lead.
Sox fans across the RF Roofboxes high-fived and screamed as Ump Laz Diaz twirled his pointer, indicating that Papi should touch them all for the second time in the same inning.
Fat dumb and satisfied, the Fenway Faithful prepared to start The Wave, swill more beer, and dance to Dirty Water.
It would be a short night.
Charlie Zink pitched a clean first and a clean fourth. He was constantly in trouble otherwise.
He recorded his first K (swinging) on a 1 and 2 count to Milton Bradley.
He gave up his first hit to Marlon Byrd in the 2nd, a sharp grounder between Pedroia & Youk.
Dustin could not reach it.
The Rangers hit “Z” sharply and with regularity in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th.
There was not much mystery to Charlie. He gave up 7 singles, 3 doubles, and 1 walk while securing
7 outs in those 3 innings. He never made it out of the 5th.
So much for HOPE.
Zink not in the pink. Zink stink.
Then, before you could say “Rudy Seanez is back with his little red gasoline can”, David Aardsma and Manny Del Carmon yielded 7 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, and a Youkilis error – all in just 1-and-two-thirds-innings of mischief.
Counting the run given up by Javier Lopez while he passed the baton from Zink to Aardsma, fortune was reversed — AT THE END OF 6 COMPLETE, SOX 14 – RANGERS 15 !!!!
The fans who were dancing a jig earlier were now perplexed and deflated.
Fortunately, Okajima came in and shut the Rangers down for 2.1 IP, providing the solid bridge to Pap.
God Bless Okajima. In 14 appearances since June 29, he has yielded one earned run. He’s been rock solid.
He got us through the top of the 8th.
Then in our half of that inning, Ellsbury Walked
Big Bang Bop – Sox 19 – Rangers 16.
Pap in. Rangers score one. Game over.
36 runs tied an AL record for most runs scored in a game, originally set in 1950 between the Sox and the A’s.
Fans from California and Ohio were abundant. Folks are stopping by to take in the Fenway atmosphere as they pass through on business and on premeditated Boston-NYC Baseball pilgrimages.
I continue to see evidence that the Sox are cleaning & painting the infrastructure — perhaps even replacing seats — during road trips. The Firm’s rehabilitative efforts are silent and unrelenting.
I’m getting concerned about Tampa Bay. The Rays have lost Percival, Crawford and Longoria. And they continue to win !
First team to 90 wins has the advantage.
Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008
Fri., July 25 Joba outduels Beckett 1-0
Sat. July 26 Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3
Sun. July 27 Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.
Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 6, 2008
Beyond the Sixth Game. What’s Happened to Baseball Since The Greatest Game in World Series History. By Peter Gammons. Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
Do you remember when you first realized that the Size-XXL Dominican Gentleman with the big smile was a Red Sox ?
The Red Sox team that already had Manny, Nomar, ‘Tek, Pedro, Millar, Mueller, Lowe & Foulke. ?
Felt pretty good, didn’t it, Red Sox Fans ?
For the Fenway Faithful, things become aligned in a special way every decade or two.
Sox fans of a certain vintage got a similar high 33 years ago after looking in the sports section and seeing TWO Red Sox players, unknown, right smack in Baseball’s Top 10 Al Hitter list ! Jeesus ! What’s going on here, we thought.
It came to pass that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were young blue chippers sent by the Baseball Gods and Dick O’Connell, to join Yaz, Rico, Spaceman, and the best Red Sox pitcher ever – Luis Tiant.
Euphoria set in. The Sox were LOADED and could win several pennants !
If you can relate, or if you just want to dig a little into an intriguing baseball book, Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game is for you. Gammons has captured the Red Sox of 1975 to 1983, a team history backed up to the late Sixties for perspective.
Gammons peppered this book with golden nuggets.
Here are a few of my favorites –
Rick “Tall Boy” Jones’ claim to fame came in high school, when he was suspended with 3 members of the Lynard Skynard band, caught by gym teacher Leonard Skinner.
Carlton Fisk, a well rounded New England boy who could fight; on 8-1-73, he pinned Gene Michael to the ground with his left hand while he pounded Munson with his right.
Dennis Eckersley, a cocky & talented 23-year-old, who had his own language, offering batters ‘cheese for their kitchen, and a yakker for their kudo.”
George Scott, rugged 1st sacker, who, when asked about what he thought about Biafra, said, “I never faced the muddafuka, but by the 3rd time I do face him, I’ll hit a tater.”.
The Rooster, Rick Burleson, commenting on the Sox collapse of 1978, “….the abuse we must be prepared to take for the entire winter, we richly deserve.”.
Luis Tiant, a pitcher for the ages, on the Sox brilliant run to force the 1-game playoff of ’78, “If we lose today, it will be over my dead body. …bleep those guys who want to throw in the towel.”.
There are funny & touching details on Yaz through the various stages of his career, and much on how he handled his farewell weekend. For anyone who was at Fenway on Oct. 1 or 2, 1983, this book is meant for you to read.
Gammons measures the Sox over 9 seasons. The Sox rose. They promised a dynasty. They failed to adjust to changing times. They won a pennant, nearly won one more, then slid into mediocrity & their first losing record in 17 years. They enjoyed an historic influx of young talent and then released, traded away and otherwise squandered the talent, as the front office lost their way in an ownership battle.
Among the leading factors in the decline was Jean Yawkey. Why would the aging doyen prefer to sell the Sox to two jokers with $400,000 on hand rather than to men with $14 Million in cash-money ?
The Yawkeys take the brunt of the criticism for mismanaging the Sox.
In 1965, Tom Yawkey replace old drinking pal Pinky Higgins with Dick O’Connell as G.M. Dick O’Connell designed the regeneration of the Sox from ’67 to ’75.
And when Jean Yawkey and the Sullivan/LeRoux team fired O’Connell in 1977, a costly series of stupid decisions ensued, resulting in the departure of Fisk, Lynn, Lee, Carbo, and Tiant.
The Sox pushed away pitching, said goodbye to their bench strength, and hoped that the salary spiral caused by free agency would correct itself. Meanwhile, they hung back, stayed out of the bidding, and waited for the market to cool down.
They led us into the Valley of Mediocrity.
But where there is pain, there is also JOY. You can’t go wrong reading BEYOND THE SIXTH GAME.
Younger fans will better understand the burden endured by more experienced ones. Older fans will smile with the memory of quirky talents, and the long dark road that ultimately led home.