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Archive for the ‘ballpark moments’ Category

Farewell, Friend

Posted by Kelly on May 10, 2012

CBSBoston: Fenway Park PA Announcer Carl Beane killed in one-car crash:

Received on my BlackBerry at 4:17pm yesterday

Carl Beane lets the Triumphant Red Sox Fan try on his 2004 World Series ring, June 21, 2005.

Carl Beane was the kind of person who felt like a friend even if you had never met him.

To listeners of the Massachusetts radio stations where Carl was a broadcaster for the past 40 years, he was the guy who brought them the sports reports, covering everything from high school to the pros with sincerity and professionalism. Others knew him as the mellifluous voice welcoming them to Fenway Park and introducing each batter who came to the plate. To the men who played at Fenway, whether for the home team or the visitors, he was someone who went out of his way to learn the correct pronunciation of each player. The NESN and WEEI game broadcasters in the booth next to his and the beat writers down the hall considered him a respected colleague.

Some of us had the good fortune to become personally acquainted with Carl. In my case, it happened through his wife, who works for the same company I do and brought him into work one summer day in 2005 so her co-workers could get a peek at his 2004 World Series ring. She booked a conference room and spread the word that anyone who wished was welcome to stop by and see it, try it on, have their picture taken with it. Carl must have spent an hour and a half entertaining a steady stream of people, but he was every bit as excited to share the symbol of long-awaited victory with them as they were to touch it for a few magical seconds.

Over the next seven years, I met up with Carl from time to time. There were spring training vacations to Fort Myers during which he was there to do the public address honors at City of Palms Park. Or the time I ran into him during a Fenway tour and introduced him to some out-of-state friends who were big Sox fans. My mother met him for the first time after we attended a game and almost literally ran into him afterward in the concourse, when we were leaving and he was rushing from the public address booth to the clubhouse to do post-game interviews for his radio job. Even when in a hurry, he took a few seconds to be friendly and gracious.

But my favorite Carl Beane story unfolded at a minor league hockey game in Worcester. I was sitting a row in front of Carl and Lorraine when a small group of teenage boys a few seats down noticed the flashy jewelry on Carl’s finger. Seemingly without a thought that these young men were complete strangers and this was a $15,000 ring, Carl slipped it off, handed it to one of the boys, and invited him to pass it around so everyone could check it out.

When I attended last Friday evening’s Red Sox game with my mother, my friend Karen, and Karen’s family, I had no way of knowing it would be the last time I would hear Carl’s voice in person. I didn’t see him, but Karen did, meeting him at the park three hours before game time for a previously arranged personal tour in honor of her son’s birthday and her granddaughter’s first visit to Fenway. In addition to getting their pictures taken with Carl’s ring (the 2004 version, that night), they were also invited to step out onto the field during batting practice. In talking about what a great job he did in his role as the voice of Fenway Park, Karen told Carl that, if he wanted it, he would have the job for the rest of his life. And he did.

The Red Sox left on a brief road trip after Sunday’s game. Carl was going about his other business around mid-day yesterday when he suffered some sort of attack—a heart attack, the reports are saying—while driving, lost consciousness, and drifted off the road. He probably never knew what hit him.

People who were much closer to him than I was—his wife, daughter, grandchildren, step-children, neighbors, professional colleagues, and close friends—are mourning in ways that the rest of us aren’t. But for every person on Carl’s Christmas card list, there are countless others who associate his voice with some of the most entertaining moments of their lives and will miss it.

The Red Sox are preparing to pay tribute to Carl Beane before tonight’s game. I hope they will continue the tribute throughout the evening by leaving the announcer’s booth empty and the microphone still, so the fans in the stands, the “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” Carl greeted en masse before every game, can hear him in their memories one more time.


Posted in ballpark moments, media, memorials, world series rings | 1 Comment »

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Posted by Kelly on April 20, 2012

Fenway Park facade

Fenway Park's Yawkey Way facade as captured with my phone October 18, 2010

It isn’t every day that you get to celebrate a 100th birthday. As rare as it is with people, it’s even rarer with ballparks. Unprecedented, in fact. Today we wish a happy 100th birthday to Fenway Park.

Today could have been a day of twin celebrations in Major League Baseball. On this date in 1912, when the first game was played at Fenway (after two days of rain-outs) Detroit’s Navin Field, later renamed Tiger Stadium, also hosted its first game. But after the 1999 season, Tiger Stadium was torn down while still a spry 87.

B logo earring

Wearing my pride

So now, Fenway stands alone. It’s big deal in a country where shiny new stadiums are increasingly popular, where historic buildings of all types often don’t survive unless local ordinances mandate preservation. In Boston, the preservation was mandated by the fans, who rose up against the former owners’ determination to tear it down and start fresh, and affirmed by new owners who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars not refurbishing and enhancing it.

Even as I wear my “B” logo earrings as a personal tribute, other commendations to the old ball yard abound on the web:

  • Yahoo! Sports ranks history’s 10 most historic stadiums (of any sport) and even though the Roman Colosseum came in first, Fenway was right behind it.

    Two World Wars, The Great Depression, nothing stopped baseball and the park was always bustling with loyal fans. No other stadium compares to Fenway Park and no other baseball stadium stands today that was built before it.

  • Fenway’s jealous younger sibling weighs in.

    My name is Wrigley Field. And I’ll try not to be resentful and jealous this week.

    You realize what Friday is, right? Yeah, the 100th birthday for that insufferable cousin of mine in the northeast, Fenway Park.

    They’ll be going all gaga the next few days over the little twerp. He thinks he’s so cute, there with his Green Monster. I hope he has a power outage.

  • CBS News gets the perspective of comedian, Worcester native, and lifelong Sox fan Denis Leary.

    Leary said, “That’s the thing about Fenway Park. Even in these seats or those seats, you feel like you can reach out and choke the opposing players with your bare hands at any given moment. And sometimes you feel like choking a Red Sox player.”

  • Over at, Jim Caple pays tribute.

    I hope Fenway Park lasts to celebrate a second full century in baseball. Although I shudder to think what ticket and beer prices could be there in 2112.

    [ . . . ]

    “What a cathedral. It’s like going to church,” said Tim Wakefield, who pitched 17 seasons at Fenway before retiring this spring. “The stadium is the star here. Fenway is the star.”

  • The New England Sports Network, the cable TV station that is partially owned by the Sox and carries all their games that aren’t nationally televised, marks the 100th birthday with 100 interesting ballpark facts.

    10. The Green Monster was originally blue and featured many white advertisements.

    [ . . . ]

    17. The [grandstand] seats at Fenway are made out of Oak wood.

    [ . . . ]

    59. Fenway Park is 20 feet above sea level.

    [ . . . ]

    81. Earl Wilson no-hit the Angels on June 26, 1962, becoming the first african-american pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League.

    [ . . . ]

    95. [Boston Mayor] John. F. Fitzgerald, grandfather of John F. Kennedy, started the tradition of tossing out the first pitch.

  • A Christian Science Monitor correspondence and Orioles fan now living in Massachusetts expresses her appreciation of the role the old ball yard will play in her young daughter’s life.

    [A]s parents, we have come to accept that when our daughter grows into her team — when she starts memorizing on base percentages and ERAs, when she insists on showing up early for batting practice and the chance to get a player’s signature, when she becomes aghast that we (or her grandparents) have tossed out old dusty boxes of baseball cards that were cluttering up a basement — we will root along side her.

    So happy birthday, Fenway Park. We’ll learn to love you. Or at least accept that you’ll give our daughter happiness.

There are many more accolades and others will come. The Red Sox held a free open house for the public yesterday and will mark the actual anniversary this afternoon with special ceremonies and a game against the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees), the same team that played at the grand opening. Both teams will wear vintage uniforms. It isn’t quite the same as logo earrings, but it will do.

Posted in ballpark moments, history, milestones | 1 Comment »

Water under the Bridge

Posted by Kelly on April 8, 2008

I can scarcely find words to express my thoughts about the ceremonial first pitch preceding today’s Red Sox home opener. But this being a blog, I’ll try.

World Series bannersLet’s start by saying that the pre-game ceremonies—from music by the Boston Pops and the unfurling of banners to delivery and presentation of championship rings—was a slightly toned-down version of the ceremonies that marked opening day 2005. The most notable difference was the absence of Red Sox stars spanning the generations. It was a comfortable ceremony, one to which we seem to have grown accustomed, in a good way. Yeah, this is cool. Let’s do it again. And again and again. It will never be as intense, as cathartic, as what followed the 2004 victory, but that’s good too. Despite the inane prognostications of people way too self-important for their own good, we Red Sox fans haven’t been dealt some existential blow from which we can never recover. We used to be devoted followers of a losing team; now we’re devoted followers of a winning team. No one amongst us—NO ONE—wants to go back.

What I didn’t realize, though, was how much unfinished business there still was after 2004. Up until today, it had felt like that victory, with all the drama of the unprecedented ALCS comeback and ease of the World Series sweep, erased all the agony of seasons past, like we were at last free to do what other teams’ fans do, look forward to what our club can do next rather than back at what they couldn’t do before.

Apparently I was wrong. There was one wound that still festered, at least for one person, and probably for all the rest of us, though we probably didn’t realize it. So as I sat in front of the television at 2:00 this afternoon listening to Carl Beane Joe Castiglione announce that the ceremonial first pitch would be thrown by Bill Buckner, it was as if I was watching the last piece of a puzzle fall into place, a piece no one even realized was missing until it was there. THIS was last remaining loose end.

Buckner baseball cardBuckner—who ironically wore the same number as a Red Sox player that was worn by the "goat" of a prior Red Sox World Series loss, Johnny Pesky—was introduced as a player who amassed Hall of Fame numbers during his 21 year major league career, one without whom the Red Sox would not have won the American League pennant in 1986. That characterization is not an understatement. A career .289 hitter, the 15-year veteran came to Boston in 1984 and proceeded to hit double digit home runs in his first three seasons here and had an impressive .990 fielding percentage at first base for the Sox. He was also a stabilizing influence on a team that included several young players. So respected was he that John McNamara decided to leave him in the game that night in New York—when he should have been on the bench with an injured ankle—because he wanted Buckner to be on the field to savor victory.

I was thinking about all of that when I saw and heard on TV the thunderous, prolonged, and unanimous ovation given to Buckner by the fans in attendance before today’s game. They must have known, like all of us know if we’re honest, that we overreacted back in 1986. Seriously. The Sox didn’t lose that year’s World Series because of Bill Buckner. They lost because of many people and many failures, not only before that most memorable play at first but in the entire next game, in which Boston had a chance to reduce Buckner’s game six error (and Evans’ error, and Gedman’s error, and Clemens’ giving up a two-run lead, and Schiraldi’s giving up a one-run lead, and Stanley’s wild pitch, and of course manager McNamara’s sentimental decision) to a mere footnote in what would otherwise have been a tremendous series for the Sox. They lost because the Mets played better. The ensuing years of piling on Buckner as if he alone held victory in his hands and let it slip away like sand always was ridiculous.

Frankly, I’m surprised Buckner agreed to come back. He said back in 2004 that he didn’t think he’d ever set foot inside Fenway Park again, and who could have blamed him if he had stayed away? After the way some of the fans held a grudge, he would have been justified in saying, with bitterness or without, "good riddance" to the lot of us. I would be very surprised if he didn’t fear in the back of his mind, or perhaps even in the front of it, that the announcement of his name might elicit a chorus of boos from which he would have no escape.

Buckner at Fenway 2007So when the boos didn’t come, when he was greeted warmly and genuinely and with enthusiasm and affection, Buckner wiped away a few tears. The fans had an opportunity to collectively make things right with Buckner, and he seemed happy to accept the gesture. Have you ever had a falling out with a family member or best friend, one that lasted many years? It becomes tiring, and tired. Eventually, you just have to fix it and move on.

Which seems to be what happened this afternoon at Fenway Park. I can picture sitting at a ball game a couple months or a few years down the road and, at the point when that game’s occupant of Fenway’s Legends Suite is introduced, being happy to see that the guest that day is Bill Buckner. I’m sure he’ll never forget how shabbily he was treated by some of the faithful, just like we’ll never forget that error. But there’s an understanding between us now. We have all come to terms with the ugly past and have mutually decided that it doesn’t matter any more.

It feels good.

UPDATE: Here is the full transcript of Joe Castiglione’s introduction of Bill Buckner:

Now it’s time to welcome the star who will throw our ceremonial first pitch on this day that we honor champions. And how happy we are that amidst this celebration and joy, this Red Sox alumnus has come back to join us. He amassed Hall of Fame caliber credentials in his 21 year major league career, and the Red Sox would never have won the 1986 American League pennant without him. Won’t you please welcome back to Boston and let him know that he is welcome always. Number 6 — Bill Buckner.

Posted in ballpark moments, history | Leave a Comment »

A Tale of Two Games

Posted by Kelly on August 3, 2007

Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that I get to enjoy a mini-oasis of baseball in the midst of the drudgery that is my life. So it was this week, when I attended Red Sox games on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. I’ve been to consecutive games before, but this time included a little extra adventure.

It started Monday when one of my online Red Sox friends from a private message board I belong to posted that he had an extra ticket for Wednesday night’s Baltimore game and put it out there for the first person who claimed it. "Jim Ed Rice in HOF," as he is known on the board (JimEd for short), has two season ticket out in section 36 of the bleachers, and he didn’t have anyone lined up to go with him for that game. As luck would have it, by the time I checked the board six hours later, no one else had claimed it. I figured that already having taken a day off to go to the Thursday afternoon game, it wouldn’t be a bit deal to be out late the night before.

I had intended to leave work at 4:15 Wednesday so I would have time to drive to Riverside Station, ride in to Boston, meet JimEd and possibly a few of the other board members for a drink at the Cask ‘n’ Flagon, and get into the game on time. Unfortunately, work being what it is at the moment (i.e. sucky) I didn’t leave until 4:50 and still had to go to the bank because I hadn’t gotten out for cash at lunch time. When it became apparent that doing the T thing wasn’t going to work time-wise, I drove all the way in and parked at the Landmark Center garage on Brookline Avenue, a few blocks from Fenway. I met up with JimEd, Neena, and SoxGirl79 for a beer, parted company with the two girls, and went into the park.

I had heard about new Celtic Kevin Garnett throwing out the first pitch, and as it turned out we were walking to our seats just as he was coming onto the field. He got a enormous standing ovation. I couldn’t help but think about the game I went to right after the Bruins signed Joe Thornton to that big contract extension and he threw out the first pitch at the next Sox game, but by the end of that season he was winning the Hart trophy for someone else. But I digress.

It was toasty out, but fortunately JimEd’s seats are close enough to the monster that they are in the shade long before the rest of the bleachers are. Between that and the fact that I had disencumbered myself of my bra before the game even started, I was fairly comfy. It ended up being a perfect night for baseball and there was a lot of great stuff to see in the game. For example: Coco going 0-for-0 with 4 walks; Pedroia 3-for-4 plus a sac fly and 3 RBI; Papi, Youk, and Tek all hitting doubles in the seventh; and of course the win. When Javier Lopez came on in the 7th with two out and a runner at first to pitch to Nick Markakis, JimEd asked me how many pitches I thought it would take Lopez to get out of the inning. Lopez does have a habit of throwing one pitch and getting the out, but I figured that was asking too much so I predicted two. The first pitch was a strike and the second was a grounder back to the mound. Hee!

Another funny moment happened in the middle of the game when, between innings, Eric Gagne walked from the dugout out to the bullpen. He got big applause from the people in the bleachers and down the right field line. I’ll bet he has never gotten a standing ovation just for walking out to the bullpen. Welcome to Boston. There were some guys behind us who, at the beginning of the game and at every pitching changed, chanted, "We want Gagne." Obviously we didn’t see him in that game, but we did see a Sox win and that was good enough for me.

After the game, I said good-bye to JimEd and walked back to the parking garage, where…my car wouldn’t start. The key turned, but instead of the engine turning over, the needles on all the dashboard guages started going up and down, the inside dome light flickered off and on over and over, and the headlights, fan, and radio didn’t work. I won’t go through the excruciating details of what followed, but the Reader’s Digest version is that I had to call AAA (best $48 I spend every year) and waited over an hour for a help to come, during which time I totalled my scorecard from the game while the Triumphant Mama drove to Boston to take me home. Before we could leave, however, I had to steer my car out of the garage while the tow truck guys pushed because their truck was too high for the garage clearance. I told them to tow me to the closest garage, which was at the corner of Yawkey Way and Boylston Street, and I finally got home at 2:45am.

I had to get up at 8:15 Thursday morning so I could drive out to my brother’s house and pick up my niece and nephew for the afternoon game, which we got to via the T commuter train, on which the air conditioning wasn’t working. We were drenched in our own sweat by the time we got to Fenway at noon, but I had plenty of time while I was sweating to mentally compose an irate letter to the T, the governor, my state representative and senator, and the newspapers. The Triumphant Mama, who had to sing a funeral this morning, had my father (who is not Triumphant, as he’s a Yankees fan—oh, the embarassment) drive her to Riverside after she was done, and she took the Green Line, which due to track work, consisted of a bus all the way in. But the air conditioning on the bus worked so she got no sympathy from me.

The pre-game ceremony honoring Bobby Doerr (1937-1951, HOF 1986) was really nice, and when it started with the music from Field of Dreams (the music at the end when Ray asks his father to have a catch) I knew I was a goner. By the time Bobby was driven out in an antique car and to the song "Sentimental Journey," I was crying like a baby. I’m such a sap. It was the 60th anniversary of the first time they had "Bobby Doerr Day" at Fenway, and he talked about all the wonderful gifts the team and fans had given him, including a heater from the Yawkeys for their cabin in Washington which didn’t have any heat. (This is where he spent the spring fishing and his wife would cook and can the salmon. He didn’t talk about this, but back in the day when I was working for the local cable company and interviewed him for a special project, I heard these stories from Mrs. Doerr.) He kept talking about how much these gifts "helped us out," the unspoken message being that ballplayers at that time made crap for money unless they were the big superstars. Then he thanked a bunch of people, including the current Red Sox team who he said he enjoys watching on TV. So it was fitting that John Henry gave him a high-definition TV. He also made a comment about how great our "little second baseman" is doing this year, which might have been insulting to Dustin Pedroia if it had come from anyone except another little second baseman who just happens to be in the Hall of Fame. The only thing I was disappointed at was that Dom DiMaggio wasn’t there. An article in the Boston Globe mentioned that DiMaggio has trouble with his legs and couldn’t make it.

The game itself was great, except when Baltimore tied the score at 3. That was Tim Wakefield’s only rough inning. He finished at 93 pitches according to my count, and he stayed in long enough for the Sox to take the lead while he was still the pitcher of record, so he now has 13 wins! Hideki Okajima pitched the 8th and Gagne pitched the 9th because it wasn’t a save situation. Gagne got another thunderous ovation, so loud that I could barely hear that his entrance music is "Panama" by Van Halen (note to self: add "Panama" to my .mp3 player). He gave up a run on a couple hits but really did look good overall, hitting the low 90s on the fastball in between 70 mph curves. Despite the hits, his stuff looked great. Before the game, I told the kids I predicted a 7-5 Sox win, and it was 7-4 so I was close.

One more thing about the game. We were sitting behind four guys, three of whom were fairly normal and the fourth of whom was totally obnoxious. He wasn’t nasty or swearing or drunk or anything like that, but he was booing the Red Sox at every turn (good naturedly, I’m sure he thought), heckling all the players, griping about every ball/strike call that didn’t go against the Sox, and generally yelling about something for the entire game. If you guessed that this man was a Yankee fan…you win! He was wearing a Yankees shirt and thought he was so clever. I lost count of how many times he yelled, "Hey ump, try looking out of your good eye." See, this is why people hate Yankees fans—they’re the only fans who go into a ballpark where their team isn’t playing for the sole purpose of booing the home team. This guy was trying to hit on me the entire game and I was being frosty, but the idiot just didn’t get the message. At one point, a woman sitting across the aisle from us took a picture of him, which he posed for when he saw her pointing the camera at him. She said she was going to post it on MySpace with the caption "obnoxious Yankee fan at Fenway Park" and the dimwit thought she was joking. Ay-yi-yi.

After the game, we walked down to the mechanic so I could pick up my car. The ignition switch needed replacing and they totally gouged me—$450 for a repair my mechanic said would cost $250 or so from him. Message: DON’T GO TO FENWAY AUTO SERVICE! It would have cost me more than $200 to have the car towed from Boston to Shrewsbury, so I really had no choice at the time. But I am going to file a complaint with the Attorney General‘s office, which investigates price gouging if enough people complain. The Triumphant Mama also suggested I drop a dime to Susan Wornick, who loves to do reports on places like that. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some money back.

By last night, I was completely exhausted and felt grimy from sweating all day. I finish totaling my scorecard and wanted to take a shower, but was too tired even for that. I slept like the dead last night and feel like a new woman today. This evening, I’m meeting up with Sistah Booklady in Wareham a Cape League game. Baseball, baseball, baseball!

Posted in ballpark moments | 3 Comments »

My Day at the Ball Park

Posted by Kelly on April 15, 2007

It was my first regular season game of 2007, and the first game I have scored since last fall, having left my scorebook at home for spring training. Not feeling my very best due to a cold, I wasn’t sure how the afternoon would go. But with the help of our Red Sox, everything went just as I would have wished it.

It started with another outstanding performanced by a Sox starter, this time Curt Schilling, who pitched eight innings of four-hit shutout ball. Schilling struck out four and walked only one while pitching very economically (103 total pitches, for strikes) and facing no more than four batters in any inning. Brendan Donnelly pitched a one-hit ninth inning (I would have given Lugo an error, but the official scorer disagreed) to preserve the shutout.

The hitters did their part as well, taking advantage of every possible opportunity to get on base and score (eight hits, nine walks, a three-run homer, a two-run error and a run on a wild pitch). David Ortiz had the home run and an RBI single, batting in four of his team’s eight runs. Eric Hinske joined Ortiz with two hits, and Manny Ramirez added an RBI single. The other hits came from Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, and Julio Lugo, who added a stolen base.

There was even some flashy defense. In the third inning, Mike Lowell stabbed a Jose Molina line drive that was hit so hard, the television camera operator didn’t have time to zoom in on the play (thank you, in-the-park replay). Two and a half innings later, the Angels’ Maicer Izturis made a similarly spectacular play on Varitek liner.

Tomorrow’s game, which may be marred by rain, pits Josh Beckett against Ervin Santana.

The game provided Red Sox Chick and I with an "I Am Woman" moment. In the first couple innings, she and I were engaging in some girly talk about players, prompting the three young guys next to us to roll their eyes and, in one case, mutter something about having to listen to that all game long. Shortly thereafter, they noticed my scorebook. Let’s just say that there was no more mockery of the ladies for the remainder of the game.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the best thing about being a female baseball fan is being able to appreciate the game on multiple levels.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was able to enjoy this game thanks to Allan, who was originally supposed to fly trans-Atlantic and attend with me. I had fun throughout the game text-messaging him while he watched (via computer, I think).

Posted in ballpark moments, game recaps, girl talk, Red Sox friends | Leave a Comment »