Notes from the BoSox Club Luncheon - May 24, 2017

Club president Mike Vining opened the proceedings introducing pitcher Tony Barnette of the Rangers, pitching coach Doug Brocail, and Rangers TV broadcaster Dave Raymond. In the audience and welcomed back from the dais was John Blake, formerly head of media relations for the Red Sox and now serving in the same capacity for the Rangers.

Red Sox radio broadcaster Tim Neverett was at the head table as well.

Poet laureate Dick Flavin recounted the story of the time Mickey Carroll, one of the munchkins of the Wizard of Oz, attended a BoSox Club luncheon in years part.

Autographs were generously given, with one of the longer lines in recent history due to the popularity of Messrs. Lonborg and Benintendi.

Dave Raymond was the MC for the Rangers portion of the program. Tony Barnette talked about how he spent his day off in Boston when the team had arrived a day early. Though it was a rainy day, he didn't let that deter him and walked around Boston soaking up as much history as he could.

Doug Brocail was a 13-year veteran as a big-league pitcher and he talked about how much he had always enjoyed pitching at Fenway Park.

Tim Neverett then took over MC duties and remembered how he was inspired to want to become a broadcaster after meeting Johnny Most when Tim was in the eighth grade.

Tim introduced Andrew Benintendi, asking him how it felt to have his debut in the major leagues less than a year after he'd graduated from college.  "I don't even remember," was his candid response. He did recall being impressed sharing the clubhouse for the first time with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.

What was it like to learn to play the left-field wall at Fenway Park? "You can't really master it," he said. "You just have to work at it every day."

He was also asked what it is like to try to work your way out of a slump. "It's baseball and that's part of it," he said. You just have to stick with your routine.

Just as all Sox fans enjoy hearing "Dirty Water" at the end of a home game, fans also enjoy the "win, dance, repeat" moves in the outfield after every Red Sox victory. Tim asked Andrew who was the best dancer among the three regulars – Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, or himself?  "Honestly, it's Chris Young."  Tim then asked him to demonstrate his Michael Jackson moves but he demurred.

Tim then introduced Gentleman Jim Lonborg. Tim and the Red Sox were just in St. Louis last week and the Cardinals were celebrating the 1967 season this year. Bob Gibson threw out the opening pitch before one of the game to Tim McCarver behind the plate. Noting that American League pitcher always had to bat in those days, Jim was asked what it was like to face Bob Gibson as a batter. Gibson had a reputation as a tough, fierce pitcher. "I really don't like to talk about it," he replied. "Everybody told you went  up to the plate, don't even look at him." He added, "If you tried to bunt on him, he'd probably hit you the next time."

Jim talked about what a true team effort it was in 1967, with so many, many people contributing to the unexpected success of the Red Sox that year. He talked in particular about how much work Carl Yastrzemski put in, with extra batting practice, fielding work, and even working on his baserunning.

He did express his appreciation for the consistency that Rick Porcello showed in 2016, and joked a bit about the advantage Rick had – access to video of the batters he would be facing.

Dr. Lonborg let us know he would be retiring from his dental practice in about four weeks.

After the conversation was over, he asked if he could say one more thing. He said he is often asked what was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was in the World Series , he won the Cy Young Award, and so forth. He said that there was a young 17-year-old girl who had come to Boston the weekend of the final game on Sunday, October 1, 1967. She had come to Boston from New Jersey to look at colleges in the area, and happened to be staying at the Somerset Hotel. That Sunday after the game, there were all sorts of excited Bostonians honking car horns on the streets and coming in and out of the Somerset. She had no idea there had been a Red Sox game and that the team had won the pennant, but she thought this must be a really good city to be in if it was like this on a late Sunday afternoon.

She and Jim ended up meeting three years later and have now been married for 47 years.

Just prior to the raffle, Dick Slattery was recognized from the dais – Dick is a regular luncheon attendee who was working his 50th season as an usher at Fenway Park.

The raffle was held, with some lucky Club members going home with an autographed bat from Christian Vazquez, baseballs signed by Rick Porcello, Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, Andrew Benintendi, and others. One member won a pair of tickets to Sunday night's game.

-- Bill Nowlin

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