Monthly Archives: September 2007

Goodwin, A-Rod, and an 8-Year Old GM

Surprised_babyVote NOW for president of Red Sox Nation at www.redsoxnation.com/president.

This photo (left) depicts exactly how I felt at the moment Doris Kearns Goodwin said in her taped address at the presidential debate on Thursday, “I hereby announce that I am withdrawing my candidacy and endorsing Rob Crawford for president.”

It was a stunning moment. I don’t remember what I said when Tim Russert asked me for my reaction, but I now know how Clay Buchholz felt right after his no-hitter when Tina Cervasio asked him for his reaction. “Um, did that really just happen?” (By the way, someone should have asked me, What’s your reaction to having Tim Russert look you in the eye and say in a searing way, “What’s your reaction, Rob?”)

I have met Doris Kearns Goodwin once, and it was a brief handshake at the candidates’ event last Wednesday at The Baseball Tavern, near Fenway Park. What she did at the debate was extraordinarily gracious. What a remarkable person she is! Thank you, Doris! And of course if I am elected I will champion your wonderful idea of memorial bricks on Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street. It’s such a great idea, I’m sure the Sox would pursue it anyway.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, Goodwin’s gesture to withdraw and subsequently endorse a “regular fan” whom she hardly knows makes her the biggest winner of us all.

Click here to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s endorsement of my candidacy at her Red Sox blog.

Click here to read the speech I gave at the Baseball Tavern last week that Doris refers to in her endorsement.

A funny debate postscript: When I came home and talked with my 8 year-old son about how it had gone, he asked me, “Daddy, what was the hardest question they asked you?” I told him that the hardesArod_and_maskst question was, “If you had the chance to bring Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox, would you?”

I told my son that my response was, “Well, my number-one priority is to win another World Series, and A-Rod would certainly help the Red Sox do that. But you know, my 8 year-old son is watching tonight, and he and I attended that game in 2004 when A-Rod and Varitek fought and Bill Mueller hit a walk-off homer to beat Mariano Rivera, and my son would kill me if I ever let A-Rod be a member of the Sox.” You sound like a democratic presidential candidate, Rob, which is it, yes or no? said Russert. “I defer to my son,” I replied. “No A-Rod.”

When I told my son I had said this, he said, “What?! Daddy, of course I would want A-Rod on the Red Sox! What are you, crazy?”

Regular Rob’s son for Red Sox assistant GM!

Thank you for your votes at www.redsoxnation.com/president, from Friday night through Tuesday at 5pm.

YES! The Sox clinch the AL East thanks to a Mariano Rivera meltdown!

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Red Sox Nation: A Way of Life

WHRBThis past Saturday, I was invited to appear on WHRB-FM’s famous country/folk music show, Hillbilly at Harvard, and to perform my song, I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation, live on the air. It’s always been a crazy dream of mine to have a song on the radio, so I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. And it was a great time. The show’s host, “Cousin Lynn” Joiner (second from left), made me feel right at home during our interview, and then we filled the studio with my song…. “we” being my co-writers, Michele and Dan Page (right), plus their 10 year-old granddaughter and my 8 year-old son, all of whom sang backup vocals. Who knows how it all sounded out in radio-land, but we had a blast. I want to thank Cousin Lynn for making it all possible. It was an honor to be on your legendary radio show.

I was struck by one of Cousin Lynn’s questions. He said, smiling, “So, you’re running for the presidency of a concept?” He was pointing out the absurdity of electing a “president of Red Sox Nation.” Today, I thought more about that. Red Sox Nation…. Is it a band of millions of loyal Red Sox fans? Or is it an emotion? A state of mind? A culture? Well yes, it’s all of these things. But most of all, it’s a way of life. And as I and other members of RSN go through our daily lives, the Red Sox and baseball are literally everywhere we turn. I’m sure your house is a lot like mine….

Baseball gloves are everywhere… Baseball_gloves_everywhere2_2 Baseball_gloves_everywhere_2


Our love for the Red Sox is evident in our closets, where our many hats live, as well as in our laundry baskets and our children’s drawers. Baseball_hats_in_closet_1 Baseball_laundry_basket_3 Baseball_drawer_open_2

RSN calls to us from our children’s walls and game closets…. Baseball_posters_on_wall_1Baseball_game_closet_1

… and from our bookcases and the backs of our cars.Baseball_bookshelf_2Baseball_rsn_sticker_3

Wiffle bats and balls reside in the yard (“Fenway West”)….Baseball_bats_in_backyard2_1 Baseball_balls_next_to_tree_1

… along with bases that our kids have stepped on and dove into thousands of times, imitating  Mueller or Crisp or Nomar or Roberts.Baseball_home_plate_in_backyard_2 Baseball_path_to_second_base_1

The kitchen isn’t just where we refuel, it’s where we pore over every word and every statistic in the Globe sports section, and where our Kid Nation fridge magnet schedule is displayed proudly.Baseball_paper_and_magazines_5Baseball_side_of_fridge_6

And of course, every night between April and October, the game is on, and with every up and down inning, we relive the great highs and lows we’ve experienced as Red Sox fans over the years.


So yes, Cousin Lynn, Red Sox Nation is a concept. A concept whose essence has infiltrated everything about my life and the lives of my many people I know, as well as the lives of millions of others worldwide. That’s one powerful “concept.” It’s a kind of insanity. Hard to imagine any other “way of life”…

This isn’t L.A., it’s Boston

This post also appears at the blog the Boston Red Sox have given me for my campaign for president of Red Sox Nation, at www.imamemberofredsoxnation.mlblogs.com. 

Tonight, there was an event at The Baseball Tavern, near Fenway, where 7 of the final 11 candidates for president of Red Sox Nation delivered five-minute campaign messages. I enjoyed meeting the other candidates who were able to attend – Jared Carrabis, Cheryl Boyd, Cindy Brown, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sam Horn, and the family of the creator of Big Pupi. Below is the message I delivered.

Hi. My name is Rob Crawford, and I’m not famous. I’m not a TV baseball personality. I’ve never played for the Red Sox. My face is not on a plaque in Cooperstown. I have not won a Pulitzer Prize. And I don’t have a column in the New York Daily News.

I have devoted my career to teaching kids, coaching kids, and raising money to support teachers and kids. I grew up in a Sox-crazed family in Brookline, and I’m now raising four children, ages 1 to 8, in a Red Sox house, and loving every day of it. Like you, I am a “regular fan.”

Now I call myself a “regular fan” with no disdain for my worthy, famous opponents. I know their love for the Red Sox is as real and as passionate as any of ours is. And I like all of them. And I really, really respect all of them. In fact, they have all achieved things that I would have liked to have achieved.

But Red Sox Nation has a choice to make in this election. Does Red Sox Nation want its first president to be someone famous – someone for whom this office might be just another feather in his or her cap? Or do they want their first president to be representative of the “regular fan?” Someone whose life would be transformed by this honor? Someone who can relate to the millions of “regular” Red Sox fans around the world – because he/she is one?

I can see L.A. electing a celebrity to be president of Dodgers Nation or Lakers Nation — but in Boston? Inconceivable.

So, what will I do if elected?

The first priority I would have as president of Red Sox Nation would be to improve ticket accessibility, and I’d start with a program called Red Sox Angels.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that revealed to you that the other person’s life would be deeply touched by tickets to a Red Sox game? And you knew that if you owned season tickets, you would give that four tickets right there on the spot? Perhaps their spouse, who is a huge Red Sox, is in the final stages of terminal cancer, and tickets would enable him to say “goodbye” to Fenway. Or perhaps she’s a single mother with three kids who’s struggling to make ends meet and could never conceive of taking her family to a game.

The Red Sox Angels program would put season tickets into the hands of Red Sox Angels across New England who would go through their daily lives looking and listening for people to give their tickets away to. Imagine the feeling of giving away Red Sox tickets to those who don’t expect it, and the feeling of receiving tickets when that’s precisely what you’re dreaming of! If the Red Sox were willing to donate 12 seats per year to this program, it would enable 24 Red Sox Angels to give away blocks of four tickets to ten games each season, resulting in 972 fans per year attending a game as a result of random but targeted generosity.

My second idea to improve ticket access is called, Sox Tix for Kids.

Almost no season ticket holder actually attends every Red Sox home game, and almost every season ticket hfans at Fenwayolder would love to donate at least one game’s tickets to a group of children who have never attended a game at Fenway, have no access to tickets to Fenway, but really want to go to a game at Fenway.

I envision a program that asks season ticket holders, on their season ticket renewal form, to donate one or more games’ tickets to the Sox Tix for Kids program. By doing so, they would be making a tax-deductible donation and would be spreading Red Sox joy to kids who, without this gift of tickets, would not be able to get inside Fenway Park and experience its mystery and magic first hand. A thank you letter from the kids to the donor of the tickets would be part of the system, and this would help encourage season ticket holders to make this gift year after year.

How would we identify these kids who want to go to a game, but have no access to tickets? Perhaps we would partner with Boys and Girls Clubs around New England; perhaps we would partner with the Boston Public Schools. The details need to be fleshed out, but since we were able to figure out how to put seats on top of the Green Monster, I have no doubt we can figure out how to get season ticket holders’ tickets into the hands of baseball-dreaming kids.

My third idea is called, More Dirty Water.

As many of you know, I love music, and as part of my campaign, I co-wrote and recorded a song called, I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation. I would love to use my platform as President of Red Sox Nation to bring together outstanding Boston-area musicians and other musical members of Red Sox Nation – famous and not-so-famous – to create a unique collection of great songs about the Red Sox, about Fenway, and about being a Boston sports fan. I envision all profits from this CD going to the Red Sox Foundation to support local charities.

I just don’t think it would be very hard to rally Red Sox Nation’s greatest musical artists to participate in a project of this kind, and I imagine it would add a new dimension to Red Sox Nation’s fan experience while providing a windfall for the Red Sox Foundation and the local Boston charities they support. Plus, it would be a heck of a lot of fun.

Now, before I close, let me leave you with this thought: Years from now, when this election is over and the first president’s term is a distant memory, the 6 or 7 famous candidates – regardless of whether they win or lose this election – will look back on this whole Red Sox Nation thing as having been another pleasant public relations bonanza, another famous experience in a lifetime of famous experiences. But for those of us in this campaign who are “regular fans,” THIS is our one chance to rise from our dignified obscurity and make a far-reaching impact. THIS is our chance to so something extraordinary. I know that us “regular fans” would look back on our year as President of Red Sox Nation as the greatest thing we ever did in our lives. And you would look back on our tenure filled with pride for having helped elect a true, non-famous representative of Red Sox Nation.

Red Sox Nation, I thank you. Remember, this isn’t L.A., it’s Boston, and Red Sox Nation deserves a “regular fan” as its first president.

Field of Dreams in My Backyard

Below is another article in a series I’ve written as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. This article also appears at the blog the Red Sox have given me, at www.imamemberofredsoxnation.mlblogs.com.

If there’s one regBackyard_robert_takes_a_leadular season game we’d all like to attend this year, it’s tonight’s game, Red Sox vs.Yankees, Schilling vs. Clemens. And I was offered a ticket, too. Turning it down was utterly painful, but with four small kids who need dinner, baths, and a bedtime story simultaneously, the teamwork of two parents is pretty important on a Sunday night. Don’t get me wrong, my wife can handle it all alone, but other married parents in Red Sox Nation will understand that, come September, it’s wise to save your chips for… the playoffs.

And anyway, no matter how great the game is tonight, it would be tough to match the fun I had today playing wiffle ball with my 8 year-old son and my 8 year-old nephew… on the baseball field in my backyard. That’s right. A few years ago, at my son’s request, we made a baseball field in our backyard. Fenway West. 68 feet to the Fisk Pole in left field, 56 feet to the Pesky Pole in right, 96 feet to dead center (and distance markers on the fences). Bases exactly 45 feet apart, foul lines painted white, and a pitcher’s mound 40 feet from home.

You like the idiosyncracies of Fenway? We’ve got those too. A sandbox full of toys in left, a swingset in right, and a gigantic oak tree next to the pitcher’s mound in the center of the field (ground rules: any ball that hits the tree in fair territory is fair and in play). There’s another big tree that looms in front of the left field fence (83 feet to straight-away left) that has the same effect on line drive blasts to left as the real Green Monster does… except sometimes the ball doesn’t come back down.

Backyard_left_field_and_center_2 The neighborhood kids who play ball in our backyard go to school every day and do their homework every night. But much of their most important education takes place right here after school and on the weekends. At Fenway West, they learn to organize themselves, to make compromises when disagreements arise, to play hard, and to never give up. They learn what it feels like to hit a clutch homer and to throw a third strike on a full count. They learn how to dream, they learn how to play.

Many of my neighbors have beautiful, green lawns. No one walks on them except when they’re being mowed. Our lawn can’t be called a lawn. It would be more accurate to call it a scraggly brownish earth surface. Grass doesn’t thrive when it’s trampled relentlessly by kids (and sometimes their dads) playing wiffle ball for hundreds of hours. The dirt patches at all the bases and the pitcher’s mound are now permanent, and the grass along the paths between the bases will probably never grow again. So be it.

Backyard_robert_and_william My wife worries that the barren baseball field in our backyard decreases the value of our house. I know better. If we ever decide to sell this place, the right buyer will see the house as a pleasant appendage to a marvelous field of dreams. Which is what our backyard has been for me, my kids, and their friends these last few years.

A week ago, my son had a homework assignment that asked him to describe his favorite thing about where he lives. His answer: “The baseball field.” That’s my favorite thing about where we live, too. Fenway West. A field of dreams in the heart of Red Sox Nation.

Top Ten – and Thousands to Thank

The word came down from the Red Sox late last week that, thanks to lots of you who voted atRedSox.com, I am one of the ten final candidates for president of Red Sox Nation! It’s a thrill to be included in the group that includes: Rem Dawg, Mike Barnicle, Peter Gammons, Sam Horn, Rich Garces (“El Guapo”), Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jared Carrabis, Cindy Brown, and Cheryl Boyd. Regardless of how things go when the Sox trim the list to three finalists, I’m honored to have made it this far in the process, and I’m fully aware that my success so far is because of thousands of OTHER people who have supported my candidacy through votes, or sending emails to their friends, or carrying signs, or helping me make a music video…. so to all of you, I say THANK YOU.

The Red Sox have given me a new blog at www.imamemberofredsoxnation.mlblogs.com, so I’ve moved some of my campaign/baseball articles from this blog to that blog, and I’ll be writing new articles that will appear in both places over the next couple of weeks. For now, though, let’s focus on the more important topic of hoping the Sox get back on track with a Beckett gem vs. the Yanks this afternoon….

Career Home Runs: 1

Below is another article in a series I’m writing as part of my campaign for president of Red Sox Nation. To see the video for the song, “I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation,” or to download the song to your computer for free, click here.

From little league/youth baseball to high school to college to the Yawkey League, I played 22 baseball seasons and perhaps 500 games. Unlike Wade Boggs (whom I loved watching play, growing up), I don’t know any of my batting stats from my baseball career – except one. Total home runs: ONE. It happened when I was 14 years old, playing in Brookline’s Babe Ruth League at the playground next to Lawrence School, which is about 1 1/2 miles from Fenway Park.

I remember there were no fences – so any four-bagger would have to be legged out. I don’t remember the pitch but it was probably a 57 mph fastball right down the middle. When I struck the ball on the sweet spot of my ultra-light, 29 oz aluminum bat and saw its impressive arc, I knew this was my chance. As I sprinted towards first base, I was already focused on beating the throw to home plate. Nearing third, I saw my coach frantically waving me home, but the look on his face told me it was going to be close. I saw the catcher awaiting a throw from the cut-off man. He caught the ball, I slid, he tagged me, and there was a cloud of dust.

The next moment, before the umpire made his call, is what I remember most clearly. In my memory, time stopped. I recall thinking, “That was close. Was I out or safe? Out or safe? PLEASE say safe, PLEASE say safe.” Then time resumed. “SAFE!” yelled the teenage umpire.

HOME RUN. I had done it. Skinny little Rob had hit an honest-to-goodness dinger. “So this is what it feels like to be Fred Lynn,” I thought. It felt really good. And I never got that feeling again, the rest of my days as a ballplayer.

After the game, walking to my car with my parents, an old man whom I’d noticed had been sitting in a lawn chair near third base called out to me. “Hey,” he said, “Good hit. You wanted that homer as soon as you hit it, didn’t you? I could see by the way you ran the bases. You were hungry!”

Isn’t it funny that I remember that old man’s comment? I suppose that, just as Henry Aaron will always remember everything about his 715th, and Yaz will always remember everything about his 400th (I was there), I’ll always remember everything about my first…. and only.

To read an article about my candidacy that appeared on the front page of The Brookline TAB and The Wellesley Townsman on Thursday, September 6, click here.

I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation, the video

When you send out a mass email to your friends announcing that you’re a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation and that you’ve written a song as part of the campaign, there’s bound to be at least one person out there who volunteers to make a music video. And that person, in my case, was old friend Henry Berman. Thank you, Henry! And thanks to Dan Hnatio at Active Communications for loaning Henry the video gear, and to Adrianne Parent for her masterful editing, and to Tom Sprague at National Boston for donating Adrianne’s time and the editing room/equpiment. And thanks to all the kids and their parents who spent the day with us at Fenway on September 2. And thank you to my mother-in-law for taking care of three of my four children who did not appear in the video during the shoot. And thank you to the people we met at Fenway that day who took the leap and agreed to learn the song and sing it (or dance to it) on camera. And thanks to Red Sox pitcher Kyle Snyder, who threw baseballs to TWO of the children in our group as they watched the Sox take batting practice from atop the Green Monster. Finally, thanks to the Red Sox for giving us access to Fenway Park and Yawkey Way prior to the game on September 2. I appreciate their willingness to help us candidates do whatever we dream up to establish our campaigns. I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it.