Notes from the BoSox Club Luncheon - August 20, 2019

BoSox Club president Jim Parker opened the luncheon gathering with the traditional welcome of three serving members of the military; at this day's luncheon, we welcomed three members of the United States Coast Guard.

Poet laureate Dick Flavin noted the recent passing of George Mitrovich, founder and keeper of the flame for the Great Fenway Writers Series. All assembled observed a moment of silence in George's memory.  There will be ceremonies to honor him both in San Diego and in Boston. Dick read a poem, "Play Ball!"

Jim noted that he had first met George in 2004 at Red Sox Fantasy Camp. George still enjoyed playing baseball even at a very advanced age.

Jim advised Club members that there were still opportunities to purchase tickets for the Lowell Spinners game this coming Sunday,

The three primary head table guests at the luncheon were Red Sox alumnus Rico Petrocelli, current Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor, and Ellen Adair – an actress who was on Homeland and Sinners and is a well-versed baseball aficionado.

Those who wished (almost everyone present) lined up and received autographs from these special guests.

The master of ceremonies for the luncheon was NESN's Adam Pellerin, introduced by Jim Parker, who also slipped in a few details about Adam's time as a baseball player at Suffolk.

Adam took a "glass half-full" approach as he noted that the Red Sox were only six games out of a possible postseason berth, with 36 games left to play.

He then introduced Josh Taylor and asked him a number of questions – after reminding us all that since Josh was called back up he had pitched in eight consecutive appearances without allowing a run, earned or unearned.

Adam asked Josh if he remembered May 29. Of course, he did! It was his major-league debut. What was it like coming in from the bullpen, he was asked. Josh said he kept telling himself, "Don't look up!" He didn't want to see the crowd and be overwhelmed by the moment. There were more than 34,000 at Fenway Park.

Every outing feels like something of a debut, even now. When he was called back up again by the Red Sox, he said it showed the confidence the Red Sox had in him.

Was there someone in particular with whom he bonded in the Red Sox clubhouse. He said that Marcus Walden had been a big help to him. They had known each other beforehand and share lockers next to each other. He has asked him questions about any number of subjects.

What's the mood on the team right now?  "Just keep winning. We know the odds are against us, but if we keep playing the way we can....We've just got to keep winning."

Next Adam introduced beloved alumnus Rico Petrocelli. When he came up in 1965, Rico said, we lost nearly 100 games that year (it was 93). People in the audience laughed, and Rico said, "What are you laughing at? It wasn't easy."

Adam asked him if, 52 years after the magical 1967 Impossible Dream team, baseball is different today from the way it was back then. "I don't remember it," he quipped.  He did say what a pleasure it was to be on that 1967 team, with four teams battling right down to the final weekend.

These days, he said, there are more pitchers in every game, and more pitchers that are throwing hard.

In his day, it was sign a contract or go home. "I didn't want to go home – and they didn't want me to come home."

He enthused about Xander Bogaerts – and asked fans to take particular note of how improved he has become with his fielding. "A great player. This kid can hit."

He talked about how much Rafael Devers has adjusted. "He's hitting strikes now." In other words, he's not chasing pitches. Rico suggested that he's got some room for an adjustment of his own – when he's hitting good, his fielding is good.

Asked about Mike Yastrzemski, he said he was very mature.

Does he think it's possible the Red Sox might make it this year? It's so tough to repeat, he said. Last year was so incredible, but it's tough to repeat. The Red Sox are going to have a lot of big decisions to make.

Ellen Adair was introduced as a special guest – and that she was. She's a huge baseball fan, a native of Philadelphia and raised on the Phillies. They remain her favorite team but she came to Boston for college and stayed for seven years and became a Red Sox fan while here.

The Phillies were in two for two games, starting on the night of the luncheon. She talked about her favorite t-shirt, the one that reads "I root for the Red Sox and anyone who beats the Yankees." She came out with her own rendition of the t-shirt that ran on for 50 or 60 words: "I root for the Phillies and the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees, and I like the Mets....."

Her husband, who was present, is primarily a Mets fan and they live only a number of blocks from Citi Field. With two teams (Phillies and Mets) in the same division, it creates certain problems – she'll root for the Mets unless they are playing the Phillies, or even – maybe – for the Mets over the Phillies if the Mets are out of the playoff hunt and the Mets still have a shot. She said of the August 20 game that she would be rooting for the Phillies, but it they lost to the Red Sox she wouldn't mind as much as she would if they lost to any other team.

She gave a very enthusiastic and passionate talk about being – first and foremost – a baseball fan. She outlined a very complex "baseball fan flow chart" about all the factors that influence what teams she roots for on every sort of occasion, influence by particular players she likes, which team plays the best defense, friend of hers who are fans of this team and that team. She was nothing if not passionate about baseball and offered a refreshing change of pace for a speaker.

Jim Parker presented her with a framed set of three Von Hayes baseball cards, a player he had learned was wasn early favorite of hers.

The raffle followed, with an autographed Michael Chavis bat being the most sought-after item.

The next luncheon will be on September 18, at which time the Club will name its Player of the Year.

--by Bill Nowlin

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