Notes from the BoSox Club luncheon - August 11, 2016

President Steve Hollingsworth opened the proceedings by introducing the Club's three military guests to appreciative standing applause.

The Club once again – as it has for decades – sponsored 15 young people to attend baseball camp in the summer. Two of them were able to attend the luncheon and also received applause.  So did a 13 year old member of a youth baseball team in Israel.

The head table guests were Tom Caron of NESN, who served as the Master of Ceremonies and introduced New York Daily News sportswriter Mark Feinsand, 2004 Red Sox alumnus Lenny DiNardo, and current Red Sox relief specialist Brad Ziegler.

In some remarks of his own, before introducing others, Tom Caron pointed out that the evening of the luncheon was Alex Rodriguez's last game in which he would appear as a player in Fenway Park. It was worth noting, T.C. suggested, that Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi was born two days before A-Rod's major-league debut.

Mark Feinsand attended Boston University as an undergraduate, so he was very familiar with Fenway Park and the Red Sox even before being his career as a sportswriter. He has covered the New York Yankees for the past 16 years, coming on at the end of the Joe Torre years and living through the 2003 and 2004 seasons which saw many epic battles – particularly in the postseason – between the Red Sox and Yankees.  One tidbit he shared was that, when the Yankees came to the visitor's clubhouse in 2005, when someone went to use the computer that was set up for them to place their ticket requests for family and friends, the screen saver was the famous photograph of Jason Varitek placing his catcher's glove in A-Rod's face. Both he and T.C. agreed that some of the intensity of the rivalry has been lacking in recent years.

Mark said that A-Rod was the most "interesting" player has ever covered. Unlike someone like Derek Jeter, who tended to adhere to the straight and narrow and was certainly an excellent ballplayer, A-Rod had so many other things that he become involved in, for better or worse, over the years. He offered an observation of how smart he is in his understanding of the game, sharing something from just the other day, when he gave newcomer Gary Sanchez a tip as to what pitch to expect on the first pitch of his at-bat, a top that Sanchez cashed in on with a base hit. His feeling was that he could be really good in his new role, if he devotes time to helping the younger Yankees.

Next up was Lenny DiNardo, wearing his 2004 World Championship ring.  Lenny, his wife, and their two children has recently moved from Florida back to New England and made a new home for themselves in Southern Rhode Island. Boston is not like any other city on baseball, he said. He remembered working in the bullpen with Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke, Alan Embree and the others. The veterans in that 2004 clubhouse— his rookie year – such as Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, and others, really set the tone, teaching him in their own way through leading by example.  T.C. asked him about the "idiots" and what it was really like in such a clubhouse, what with Manny Ramirez's friend Nelson visiting and many of the other idiosyncrasies that characterized that year's team. "We were playing loose. We weren't playing tight," Lenny said. He mentioned how Bronson Arroyo wore the cornrows in his hair that he sported that year in part because he was aware it kind of bothered Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Brad Ziegler said it was really nice to be able to come to Fenway Park as part of the HOME team, and not as a visitor. As a visiting player, it had always been a nice place to visit – getting his first look inside the Green Monster, for example.  It was also a nice place to bring the family, to see the historical side of Boston as well.  He'd spent two summers playing in the Cape Cod League and treasured those memories. He had become so close to the host family who housed him in his second year that the family in question later moved to Kansas City to become neighbors.

He told us he had begun his big-league career as an overhand starter with Oakland and was asked to convert to pitching with a submarine motion, that turned into the sidearmer he really is today.

On arriving in Boston from Arizona, the first person to greet him, with a big hug, was David Ortiz. He said, "It's his locker room, it's his team" and he is enjoying being a part of it in Big Papi's final season.

Asked about what is was like being in one of the smaller bullpens in the league, he told us that he actually didn't head out to the bullpen until around the fifth inning. Because of his responsibilities as a late-inning reliever, it was around the third inning that he would get into the hot tub and then take a really hot shower, to limber up his muscles, and then head out to the pen to be ready if called upon.

Autographs were freely given just before the luncheon and the raffle followed, the first prize being a signed Dustin Pedroia baseball won by one of the military guests.

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