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 holder 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.