Notes from the BoSox Club Luncheon - July 10, 2018

Club President Mike Vining opened the gathering and immediately turned the microphone over to poet laureate Dick Flavin. Dick noted that almost exactly 75 years ago – on July 12, 1943 – Ted Williams and Babe Ruth held a home-run hitting contest in Boston. It was the day before the 1943 All-Star Game, and there was a game arranged between the Boston Braves and a team of Service All-Stars, featuring the US Navy's Ted Williams, and managed by Babe Ruth. As it happens, Williams hit a home run to win the game for the Service All-Stars, 9-8. Dick then recited a poem he had written to commemorate the occasion.

Mike then urged attendees to increase the Red Sox participation in the 2018 All-Star Game by voting for Andrew Benintendi.

A break for autographs followed, with Mitch Moreland joined by 2007 alumnus (and World Champion) Manny Delcarmen.

Joe Castiglione followed the autographing by acknowledging that this is his 36th year as the Voice of the Boston Red Sox – and that this meant he had been broadcasting for more years than most of the players on the team had been alive.

"What a year!" Joe said. "Whoever would have thought the Red Sox would be leading all of baseball in stolen bases?"

Joe then introduced Mitch Moreland, noting that it was Mitch's first All-Star Game. Joe said that manager Alex Cora had gathered the whole team in the clubhouse in Kansas City to let them know which Red Sox players had been named to the American League All-Star squad. He named them each one by one, saving Moreland for last. When he announced that Mitch had been named to the squad, a huge round of applause broke out.

As a free agent, Mitch had re-signed with the Red Sox this offseason. He talked about playing in the Cape League very early on, and visiting Fenway Park for the first time – falling in love with the place. He was very happy to be here. When the Red Sox recently let Hanley Ramirez go, Joe said, everyone knew it was a vote of confidence in Mitch Moreland. Mitch said that he felt honored that the team had the confidence to play him more.

He had been both a hitter and a pitcher – a closer – when he was a prospect. He signed with Texas as a hitter, though. And clearly has done well. He has, however, pitched two innings in the majors – one for the Rangers in 2014 and one for the Red Sox in 2017. In both cases, he denied the opposition any runs.

This year's Red Sox team, he said, was "one of the best I've been on, if not the best. I think this team has everything we need."

Joe then brought up Manny Delcarmen, dubbing him a hometown hero, who had grown up in Hyde Park. Manny said he will be working on air for NESN.  Though an alumnus of the Red Sox from 2005 to 2009, he was still playing independent ball as recently as this spring – and was still hitting 96 miles per hour.  NESN made him an offer to join their team and he took it.

His father Manuel Delcarmen had played baseball before him, spending five years in the Phillies' minor-league organization from 1974-8, but never made it to the big leagues. Manny, having grown up in Boston, told other teams who had inquired about drafting him, that he was prepared to go to college if drafted by any team other than the Red Sox.

Joe and Manny talked about this year's Red Sox team, Joe asking if this year's team was one of the most athletic Manny had himself seen. Manny agreed that it was, talking both about speed in the outfield and speed on the basepaths. Joe said that in all his years watching the game he felt that Jackie Bradley Jr. was the single best outfielder he had ever seen – and that included both Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. JBJ doesn't dive for balls; he gets a great read on the ball and runs to the spot where he can make the catch. It's not as dramatic, and this may hurt him in Gold Glove consideration.

Asked a question about continuing to live in New England, Manny said, "I love the snow, love the change of seasons."

Joe said that Chris Sale had many similarities to Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez and that he'd been fortunate to see so many great pitchers.

Alex Cora, he said in response to another question, has really opened the lines of communication. He's always available in the clubhouse. He talks to the players. Being bilingual helps, but he has a special talent that allows him to offer critiques without coming across as negative.  He also handles the media exceptionally well; Joe appreciated how difficult a job a manager has here in Boston.

Asked about the time of baseball games, Joe advocated a pitch clock. He'd seen a game and how effective a 15-second pitch clock truly was. "I think we're going to see it next year," he said, "Pace of play is more critical than time of game."

He personally preferred the designated hitter, because there is more action in games.

After Joe answered several questions, the club raffle began and the gathering ultimately dispersed.

--by Bill Nowlin

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