Below is another article in a series I’ve written as part of my campaign for president of Red Sox Nation. This article originally appeared on my other blog at Crawdaddy Cove.
From little league/youth baseball to high school to college to the Yawkey League,
I played 22 baseball seasons and perhaps 500 games. Unlike Wade Boggs
(whom I loved watching play, growing up), I don’t know any of my
batting stats from my baseball career – except one. Total home runs:
ONE. It happened when I was 14 years old, playing in Brookline’s Babe
Ruth League at the playground next to Lawrence School, which is about 1
1/2 miles from Fenway Park.
I remember there were no fences – so any four-bagger
would have to be legged out. I don’t remember the pitch but it was
probably a 57 mph fastball right down the middle. When I struck the
ball on the sweet spot of my ultra-light, 29 oz aluminum bat and saw
its impressive arc, I knew this was my chance. As I sprinted towards
first base, I was already focused on beating the throw to home plate.
Nearing third, I saw my coach frantically waving me home, but the look
on his face told me it was going to be close. I saw the catcher
awaiting a throw from the cut-off man. He caught the ball, I slid, he
tagged me, and there was a cloud of dust.
The next moment, before the umpire made his call, is what I remember
most clearly. In my memory, time stopped. I recall thinking, "That was close. Was I out or safe? Out or safe? PLEASE say safe, PLEASE say safe." Then time resumed. "SAFE!" yelled the teenage umpire.
HOME RUN. I had done it. Skinny little Rob had hit an
honest-to-goodness dinger. "So this is what it feels like to be Fred
Lynn," I thought. It felt really good. And I never got that feeling
again, the rest of my days as a ballplayer.
After the game, walking to my car with my parents, an old man whom
I’d noticed had been sitting in a lawn chair near third base called out
to me. "Hey," he said, "Good hit. You wanted that homer as soon as you
hit it, didn’t you? I could see by the way you ran the bases. You were
Isn’t it funny that I remember that old man’s comment? I suppose
that, just as Henry Aaron will always remember everything about his
715th, and Yaz will always remember everything about his 400th (I was
there), I’ll always remember everything about my first…. and only.
To read an article about my candidacy that appeared on the
front page of The Brookline TAB and The Wellesley Townsman on Thursday,
September 6, click here.