Category Archives: Life

Manny Being Magnanimous

About a week ago, my dad wrote an email to an unknown person who had left some great comments on my blog during the Red Sox Nation campaign. He wanted to say “hello” and “thanks for the support.” This “mystery commenter” immediately wrote back, revealing herself to be an old friend of my father’s and telling an amazing story about an encounter with Manny Ramirez on the day of the Rolling Rally. The story is too good to not share with Red Sox Nation on this blog. Here are excerpts from that email…

Dear Jim,
Whoo Hoo!  Yes, c’est moi!  Some communications are best kept secret until they aren’t secret any more!  And here is a story for you!  There is something in the wind …

I am a Red Sox fan, but “one step removed,” not having frequented a game for some twenty years, if truth be told … however, I am a total fan of sport as a way of building character, sense of fair play, earnest and skilled competition, and a profound sense of the holy AND totally identify as a member of Red Sox Nation. A number of people who are my clients for consultation, etc. are wildly active members of Red Sox Nation … and for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, on Tuesday [the day of the Rolling Rally], I wore a Red Sox tee-shirt given to me by one of my clients who knew I was watching every single game during the playoffs and World Series.

So, continuing my story … to my dismay, due to work obligations and deadlines re: a written project, I wasn’t really able to go to THE PARADE. But I did wear my Red Sox tee-shirt all day!  And, at 4:30 p.m yesterday [the day of the parade], I had an appointment to provide consultation for a colleague who has significant vision problems, so I go to her home for our meetings. Her home is located in the Ritz condo building off Tremont Street.  Arriving 15 minutes early, I sat for a bit in the (ever so nice) lobby, wearing my Red Sox tee-shirt.  And, while reading there, wearing my Red Sox tee-shirt, in walked none other than Manny Ramirez (this is the building where he lives), who noticed me sitting and wearing my Red Sox tee-shirt, came right over, sat down in the seat right across from me and struck up a 15-MINUTE conversation with me!!! 

He was as nice and interesting and conversationally engaged as a person could be and we talked about a range of related topics including: my congratulations to him and to the team, my appreciation for all they give to so many of us who just love the team and Red Sox Nation, what Red Sox Nation means to children, how wonderful it is to “get lost for three hours+” in a GREAT game in a world where so many tragic and terrible realities occur, how important it is for skill and practice and fun to be combined in people’s minds and experience, when the players will get their World Series Champion rings, how great it is that there is a President and Vice President of Red Sox Nation, what Manny finds interesting about Boston, how Boston is different from Cleveland, and how he feels about his fans.  (He told me he loves them — “it’s all for the fans!”)  He talked about the parade and the reaction of the fans and the whole of Red Sox Nation. Then, after fifteen minutes of chatting, I had to get to my meeting and he had to get going too, and as I headed toward the elevator, the concierge said to me: “Unbelievable!  Manny never does that — you just had a fifteen minute private audience with Manny!” And I said, “Yes, and what a delightful, very nice, sweet, and interesting person he is!”

WOW! Life is full of surprises!  And how wonderful!


I Will Not Demand A Recount

Manny_waves_to_fans_after_hr I just got home from game one of the playoffs (Beckett… wow), and what matters way more than this Red Sox Nation election is that THE SOX WON. My 8 year-old son predicts 11 consecutive wins in the postseason. I’m not going to argue with him.

I wanted to let everyone know that I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the election. I remain blown away by the support of so many people — from every corner of my past and from people I’ve never met around the world — who cared enough to vote for “Regular Rob” and to ask their friends and family members to vote too. If you are one of those people, I thank you. (And I also want to say that no matter who you voted for, you picked a great candidate…. I got to know some of these people and they’re all first class.)

When this whole process started back in July, I did not realize how many connections with old friends I would reestablish and how many new relationships and conversations with loyal citizens of RSN would begin; I did not envision such an enthusiastic response to a song I’d write and record on my laptop in my basement and to Red Sox/baseball/parenting stories I would write on my blog; and I certainly did not dare to dream that a Pulitzer Prize-winning author I’ve never met would endorse my candidacy, catapulting me to a first-place finish among non-celebrity candidates.

I have heard from many people about how “unfair” it was that Jerry Remy participated in this election. But you know what — having Jerry Remy in the race made it a lot more fun for me and the other candidates. And in the end, Rem Dawg earned this — he’s developed a strong, authentic relationship with Red Sox Nation over a period of many years, he’s a consistently excellent baseball commentator, and the fans love him. Yes indeed, the fans have spoken — Jerry Remy is our president!

Stay tuned for many, many more blog articles here at this website, as well as a steady stream of new songs…. I’ve only just begun…..

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.

The Birth of a Believer

young Sox fan

Below is another article in a series of blog entries I’m writing as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. 

My eight year-old son is a believer. In his short life, he has attended some of the greatest regular season Red Sox games of them all. He was at Fenway for the Varitek-ARod fight followed by the Mueller walk-off vs. Mariano Rivera in 2004; he was there for the Mark Loretta walk-off home run vs. Seattle on Patriots Day in 2006; and he was there for the incredible six-run, ninth inning rally vs. Baltimore on Mother’s Day earlier this spring (Sox won, 6-5).

He was also there for the 14-0 loss to the Braves in May. It was at this game that I realized he has become a FULLY EXPECTANT BELIEVER in the Red Sox.

The weather was horrible. By the end of the 7th inning, with the Braves leading 11-0 and a steady downpour soaking Fenway, only a few thousand fans remained in the stands. My son was shivering so I asked him if he wanted to head home. “No way, Daddy!” he said, insulted. “Daddy, we’re going to come back and win this game.” Then he commanded, “Put on your rally cap!” So I turned my cap inside out. And so did all the people sitting near us.

In the 8th inning, completely drenched, he turned to me again and said with absolute seriousness, “Daddy, the Red Sox are winning this game.” I replied, “I know they are.” In the top of the ninth, the Braves scored three more runs, and before the Sox came up in the bottom of the ninth, he said, “That’s actually good, Daddy, because now the comeback will have three more runs and that will be more exciting.” “You’re right,” I replied. “LET’S GO RED SOX!” he continued to yell through the raindrops. The Sox went one-two-three in the ninth, and the worst Sox game of the year (from a spectator’s perspective) was over. My son was pensive as we walked out of Fenway.

On the drive home, he was quiet and I thought he was asleep until he said, “Daddy, I know this sounds strange, but I’m going to say it anyway. I really think it’s…. funny that the Red Sox didn’t win. I mean, I really really thought they were going to come back. Even with two outs in the ninth inning, I just knew they were going to win.” Then, he fell asleep. His earnest faith gave me goosebumps.

How lucky am I to be this boy’s father, and to be raising him a few miles from Fenway? How lucky is Red Sox Nation to have this kid as a citizen?

Evolution of a Red Sox Fan: Stages 3 and 4

Below is another article in a series of blog entries I’m writing as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation.

My last article discussed stages 1 and 2 of the four stages of evolution of a Red Sox fan. Now, it’s time to take a close look at stages 3 and 4. As I said earlier, no stage is better or higher than another (indeed, I wish I’d stayed in stage 1 forever) and all fans at all stages are equal in their Red Sox Nation citizenship. (Did you go through a stage that could be described differently? I’d love to hear about it.)

Stage 3: Prioritization, Re-calibration, Sacrifice Stage 3 is the hardest one to enter, because it requires a complete overhaul of one’s habits and values regarding focus on baseball. This is the stage when we learn how to integrate our passion for the Red Sox with our desire for solid, long-lasting relationships with people who don’t share our Red Sox obsession. Some consider stage 3 to be evidence of fan regression, not evolution. (I do see their point.)

When our spouses, significant others, and children (who, although we love them, are occasionally “significant interruptors”) request our undivided attention when the game is on; when we’re absorbed in the pages of the Sunday Globe or Herald; when the World Series pre-game show has just begun; when we’ve got tickets and we’re running out the door — we are facing a stage 3 moment. In this stage, a Red Sox fan can either take a deep breath and calmly engage with the significant interruptor, or cling to the die-hard-fan mentality, blow-off the significant interruptor, and strain or destroy his/her relationships. A genuine stage 3 fan has learned to manage his expectations about how much time he will be able to spend “being an active fan,” and recognizes the moments when he’s torn from his fan experience as “critical relationship-defining junctures” and “necessary baseball sacrifices.” Every fan who enters stage 3 and re-calibrates his priorities is destined for long, contented interpersonal relationships, a degree of baseball starvation, and a dependence on Tivo.

I had a stage 3 moment last Tuesday night after my wife and I had finished putting our four children (ages 8 to 1) to bed. While enjoying the fifth inning of the Sox-Orioles game on NESN, one of the four kids woke up, came downstairs, and asked me if she could watch a Dora The Explorer video. (She had fallen asleep at 5:00pm and we were hoping she’d sleep through the night…) The stage 2 fan in me felt a twinge of resentment and even wanted to say, “Nope, sorry darlin’,” and just endure the little girl’s woeful sobs. But the stage 3 fan in me won out, and 30 minutes of Dora’s Pirate Adventure ensued. I was proud of myself. For my “evolution.”

ballplayers in the outfieldStage 4. “I am one with baseball.”A stage 4 fan is one who, with an endless archive of Red Sox memories, has developed a philosopher’s appreciation of The Game; whose passion is ignited by the way a third baseman kicks the dirt between pitches; who knows the Red Sox will win another World Series in his/her lifetime, and it won’t be because of a particular managerial move or trade, but because the stars align and the players get on a roll; who sees baseball as a metaphor for numerous truths and paradoxes of the natural world; who can thoroughly enjoy watching any major or minor league team play, and indeed, can get as much enjoyment from watching a local little league game as from a Red Sox game; who reveres a slick-fielding, reliable shortstop with superior range (regardless of his ability to hit) as much as a dominant closer or triple-crown contender; whose number-one reason for not wanting to miss an inning of any game is the fear that something will happen, the exact nature of which he’s never seen before; who understands completely that the Red Sox are a business, but who still sees the magic in baseball and the majesty of Fenway Park; who is grateful for the chance to watch Derek Jeter play, even though he’s a Yankee; and who is deeply moved by baseball’s unparalleled capacity for enchantment, particularly in the hearts of children, and is on a quest to recapture his/her own innocent, child-like appreciation for the game (stage 1).

Stage 4 is sort of like becoming a baseball buddha. Of course, stage 4 encompasses all the other stages, because the stages are cumulative to some degree. But at the same time, stage 4 is absolutely distinct from the other stages. And by the way, only those of us who were fans in 1918 were able to access stage 4 prior to the last out of the 2004 World Series. (Now, we all can.) Perspective, appreciation, and sagacity are impossible when you’ve only experienced heartache your whole life and you actually wonder if curses are real.

Being the father of an 8 year-old Red Sox fanatic has launched me into the realm of stage 4. While my love for the Red Sox remains very personal, the most joyful aspect of my fan experience involves my oldest son (the other three haven’t caught the baseball bug yet). I am re-living stage 1 through him, and loving it even more this time around. I have witnessed first-hand how baseball has led my son to dream big dreams and believe anything is possible; how baseball fills his afternoons with hour upon hour of serious play; how being at Fenway engrosses him and engages his imagination in spectacular ways; and how Red Sox baseball has become essential common ground in our very close father-son relationship, ground to build on for years to come. (And now, I understand how much fun my parents had with me and my three siblings when we were stage 1 fans.)

Are you a stage 5 fan? If so, let me know what’s in store for me. Many, many thanks…..

Evolution of a Red Sox Fan: Stages 1 and 2

Below is another article in a series of blog entries I’m writing as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation.

I’m a different Red Sox fan now than I was as a kid, and before I had kids, and before 2004. Is it possible that all Red Sox fans go through an evolutionary process? I’ll go on the record asserting that there are four distinct stages in the evolution of a serious Red Sox fan (at least, there have been four for me). No stage is necessarily better or higher than another (indeed, I’m striving to return to stage 1), and all fans at all stages are equal in their Red Sox Nation citizenship. Here’s how I’d define the first two stages.

Stage 1. Discovery, Innocence, OptimismThis is the stage in a Red Sox fan’s life when he/she is awakened to the existence of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, and when everything about the team is joyful and thrilling. (Stage 1 fans could be six year-old children, or college students from outside New England, for example.) People in this stage have feelings for the team that resemble a very intense crush. They have a favorite Sox player whom they idolize, treasure the Sox posters in the Sunday Globe, and cannot conceive of a scenario where the Sox fail to win the World Series this year (they are overflowing with hope.)

For me, this stage began in about 1976 when I was in second grade and it continued through high school and the 1985 season. I kept a few journals for school during these years, and half of my entries focused on the Red Sox and the Sox-Yankees rivalry. All entries were cheerful. The journal entry I wrote the day after Bucky Dent’s homer in ’78 (I was ten) hints at more melodrama than pain. My eight year-old son is in stage 1 now, and I pray for him that it lasts as many years as possible. These are the wonderful years of baseball innocence.

Stage 2. Identity, Obsession, Vulnerability This is the stage of the “die-hard” fan. These fans have several emotional Red Sox memories (or scars), and their excitement about the Red Sox has blossomed into a full-fledged addiction. They cannot miss a game. Or even an inning of a game. People in this stage throw their souls at the mercy of the Red Sox’ fortunes. They experience unparalleled euphoria when things are going well, but are vulnerable to deep depression when the team disappoints. Every win or loss is taken personally and somehow reflects their own self-value. Some fans choose to never leave this stage, and we admire them for that.

For me, stage 2 began when I went to college in New Hampshire and was surrounded by people from all over the world, but mostly from New York and New Jersey. The Red Sox served as the core of my identity. I felt like a full-fledged member of the team. I would travel very, very long distances, stand in long lines (even overnight), pay money I didn’t have, and change any long-standing plans (such as participating in a relative’s wedding) to watch them play in person. Like I say in my song, it’s a kind of insanity. (Most fans in stages 3 and 4 re-enter stage 2 when the Sox play the Yankees, or are in the playoffs and World Series.)

Coming soon, the definitions of Red Sox Nation citizens in stages 3 and 4 of their fan evolution.