Notes from the BoSox Club luncheon - June 17, 2016

President Steve Hollingsworth welcomed luncheon attendees and introduced three guests from the United States Navy who hailed from Texas, Los Angeles, and Boston College. Dick Flavin entertained all with a story and then a poem about one of the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz. Also in attendance and introduced was Alex Santiago, son of former Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago. The emcee for the day was Tom Leyden of Fox 25 Sports, a veteran on the NFL and NHL who then went into television and who has been in Boston for the past 14 months.

Tom handed a microphone to #7, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who had earlier greeted guests and signed autographs. Tom guessed correctly that Christian wore #7 in honor of catcher and fellow Puerto Rican Pudge Rodriquez. Christian was playing this year after losing the 2015 season to Tommy John surgery, and told us that he had learned a lot of baseball last year while watching the game from the dugout and talking with the coaches and players. He said he appreciated fellow catcher Blake Swihart as a great teammate. Of catching knuckleballer Steven Wright, he said "It's fun. It's a challenge." And that the secret in catching the unpredictable pitch was to "try to relax, and keep the ball in front of me."

Asked about the Red Sox having so many young players around the same age on the team, he noted that he had played with Xander Bogaerts at every step of his career as they come up through the system together. Of David Price, he was impressed most of all with his accuracy in placing his pitches.

Rick Rissz, Mariners broadcaster since 1983, enthused about the Mariners winning Game Five of the ALDS over the Yankees in 1995, "the game that saved baseball in Seattle." He talked quite a bit about getting to know Dave Henderson, before Hendu was traded to the Red Sox in 1986. They remained friends, and the two started the Toys for Kids charity together. Though losing Hendu to death recently, thiis last year saw 8,000 toys delivered to kids in King County, Washington. Rick also gave something of a scouting report for the Friday night game, noting that while the Red Sox were #1 in the league in runs scored, the Mariners were #2.

Sam Horn was a special guest as well, and he talked about how much he enjoyed playing at Fenway Park. He always signed for all the fans, encouraged in that regard by Lib Dooley – and even had enjoyed lunch with her and Jean Yawkey on occasion.  "When I did get a chance to play, I did good things," he said, mentioning his start in the majors, hitting a three-run game-winning homer in his first game and 10 homers in his first 82 at-bats. He was asked about the day he struck out six times in the same game. He came up to bat a seventh time and was told at the time he could have really set a new all-time record by striking out again. Instead, he hit a game-winning homer "which no one ever remembers." (As it happens, he doubled, and though it makes for a good story, it did not produce a run.) A slump, that he called "a period of adjustment." When Jackie Bradley Jr. was scuffling a little, he told him, "Keep your head up." JBJ responded, "I'm not going to put my head down no matter what. There's too many people wishing they could be where I am." He advised that this year's Sox team should stay loose, have fun, not get too serious now, and save that for September.

The next BoSox Club luncheon will be at Fenway Park on July 20.

Luncheon summary provided by Bill Nowlin.

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