What a show

If you ever forget how much you love baseball, come to Cooperstown — especially for an induction weekend.

We all love the actual baseball season. But this is a great change of pace from that hustle and bustle, albeit just for a couple of days.

I’ve been covering baseball on a full-time basis since 1997, but this weekend reminded me of what it was like to be a full-time fan in the 1980s, when I marveled at Rickey Henderson’s speed, his gaudy athleticism, his showmanship, and Jim Rice’s raw strength and power and that pure swing.

It was a joy being around these two guys the last couple of days and listening to them recall their careers.

I didn’t know that Jim Rice could have taken a full ride to play college football at Nebraska, but he talked quite a bit about that this weekend.

And Rickey — the utter fascination of Rickey.

I think the one bittersweet thing about the weekend for Rickey is that Billy Martin, his late manager with both Oakland and New York, wasn’t around to see this.

“My relationship with Billy Martin – he was like a father figure. I think Billy took me as sort of like his son,” Henderson said. “Billy figured I was the type of player who would run down a wall or break down some bricks because I loved the game. He saw the inner side of me. He was that type of player. he always felt I went out to win each and every day and I was a winner.”

I loved the story Rickey told during his speech about being a boy and trying to get Reggie Jackson’s autograph. Instead of giving Rickey an autograph, Reggie would give him a pen that said “Reggie Jackson” on it. Reggie, seated on the stage behind Rickey, nearly fell off the stage laughing at that recollection

“I didn’t get his autograph after the ceremony but he’s looking for my autograph. I’m just waiting for that moment,” joked Rickey. “Eventually I got Reggie Jackson’s autograph. I had to go out and prove myself to get his autograph. I think the time I stole 130 bases, the next year he was running to get my autograph and I told him, ‘I can’t give you my autograph this time because I never had your autograph.”‘

Rickey — who played for the Yankees and Mets — on the New York fans?

“New York fans, I always said they know the game of baseball and they know when you go out and play the game hard or when you go out and you’re not playing at all, or when you go out, as they always say, you’re faking or you’re jaking or you just don’t want to play. I think that’s the difference. Being in New York, in the spotlight, that excited me. I always wanted to take the challenge of the greatest organization and the greatest team in baseball. It was a challenge to me. I enjoyed every bit of it.”

And, as Rickey recalls — perhaps erroneously — he actually never did refer to himself as “Rickey”.

“I don’t think I ever called myself Rickey. I’m trying to think about where their lingo kept rising and rising. People said, I’m going to call myself Rickey. I think in baseball, and on a baseball field, we talk about a lot of different stuff. We talk about a lot of different stuff. We talk about different terms and stuff like that. It got out to the media and they just ran with it. You’d probably never hear me say Rickey. That’s not how I speak or talk about it. I speak fast, I talk fast, but I’m not going to see Rickey did this or that. In baseball, you see players talk about you talking to your bats, you’re mumbling, you’re talking about something. That was the way I would go out and concentrate and make me realize what I had to do,” said Rickey.

One thing you can be quite sure of — there will never be another Rickey.

I must say that at the end of the 2002 season, my first year on the Red Sox beat, I walked up to Rickey and shook his hand and said, “I just wanted to let you know it was an honor to cover you.”

I never said that to any player before or since. That’s just Rickey.

Anyway, back to Fenway tomorrow for some Red Sox-A’s. I hope all of you aren’t panicking about the ongoing slump of the offense. This, too, shall pass.

12 Comments

It would have been a great day for the Red Sox that Jimmy Rice was enshrined into permanent fame and if the Red Sox won the game against the lowly Baltimore. Offense lost the game. The Sox aren?t going to win a lot of games if the bats of Youk, Bay and Drew are still in slumber.
How patient will Francona be with Smoltz? I am afraid that this is the de javu of Buchholz fiasco last year which partially cost the Sox the division title.
Garry, Brian as you see Smoltz, What is his problem? Has he lost it? Or is it just the mechanics, arm strength which can be worked out by being patient? Could the pitching coach see what we saw? I?d like to trust Francona and Farell? But?..

I have been to Cooperstown on (3) occasions, the last time I was there was when Yaz, J. Bench, Red Schoendist and the umpire Al Barlick were inducted. Also Harry Caray got into the broadcasting wing that day. It was a who’s who that weekend. Everywhere you looked, you saw some of the greats. Stan Musial, Wille McCovey, Brooks Robinson ( got his autograph–he was walking by my parents van ) Willie Stargell, Ernie Banks ( my mother had a chance to get his autograph but she didn’t know who he was ) and of course Ted Williams was there. When Williams walked in, the place had electricity and even some of the big names were in awe in his presence. My father ( who doesn’t even like sports ) he was in awe of Ted Williams because he said he looks like ” John Wayne”. The Red Sox that weekend were supposed to play the Reds but they had plane issues in Montreal so the fill in team was the Elmira Red Sox, it was a very FUN weekend. When I went they had the ceremony behind the museum, I don’t think that is the case now. If you haven’t been, what the hell are you waiting for???? You will have a BLAST!

007…
My guess is as good as yours but Smoltz sure is getting smoked!
I think the Red Sox patience with Smoltz has to be very thin. He has proven he can’t go deep into the game and when he gets hit, he is done! I have said on here that the Red Sox should be patient with Smoltz but that was when the Red Sox had a 3 or 4 game lead, certainly not the case anymore. Location seems to be killing Smoltz, some of his pitches are up in the zone and hitters are feasting on it! Greg ( N.C. resident on here ) said Smoltz should be in the pen, I am leaning that way but who grabs his spot???

I think Boston will make a strong push for Halladay. If Boston could get him, the trio of Beckett, Lester and Halladay would be insane. It also would take pressure off of the back end of the rotation. Let’s face it, right now the only (2) starters that you can count on right now is Beckett and Lester. What happens if Beckett or Lester faltered and had a bad start or two?? I said on here yesterday that the pen would be toast in matter of days! I know I know the bats are silent like Charlie Chaplin but a trio of Beckett, Lester and Halladay would be very difficult to beat. I don’t care if Boston had “Oil Can” Boyd with Al Nipper to fill out that rotation.

Jason Bay where are you??? Garry asked the question yesterday and said when was the last R.B.I. for Bay?? I looked it up and it was July 9….Long ago! Bay was one of reasons why this team was on top of the division for a while. Bay needs to find his stroke again and soon! He is too good of a hitter to be this bad. He looks like Marc Sullivan up there.

Brian: Actually I was thinking the Sox should be patient with Smoltz if they had at least 5 game lead. Now the lead had evaporated and the red hot Yankees show no sign of letting up. Bear in mind, the Yankees are notoriously a second half team. Second place finish may not necessarily guarantee a playoff berth depends how well the LAA and Tex perform.
Good question, who?s going to take Smoltz?s spot if he were sent to the pen? Perhaps Masterson? Bowden?
What comes down to is the lack of offense. If Bay and Drew find their swings back and the Sox start to win consistently, this may compensate for the automatic loss of every 5th day.
It is my dream if the Sox can acquire V-Mart and Halladay. Without consistent offense, Halladay cannot score runs. If it is either or situation, I will go after V-Mart. He can play 1B, catch and dh, this would give Francona more flexibility and make him even a better manager. lol I believe V-Mart is a switch hitter as well?
I hope the FO is working on something or the race could be over in August.

I just realize all but 1 game that Smoltz started were againstt the basement dwellers. We know Smoltz was smoked, rocked and yet he thinks he is all right. Can he be more humble and accept the fact that he sucks. Again I am not blaming yesterday’s the loss on him. It was the lack of offense.

moanin…well……no serious moves yet….there were reports that cleveland was offered bucholz for vmart but was rejected….another package with bowden and masterson also….if the ppl we had would just perform would be one thing….this shouldnt be a shock to anyone that this is happenin….i mean….drew is underachievin yr AFTER YR,PAPI HAS BEEN DECLINING,bay is not worth the 15 + mill he wants(although i like him but not at that money),mikey is gettin old,tek is in decline,then u have pedey who is still a youngster and yuke….jacoby is also a kid….im sorry but there isnt a bonifide killer in the line up….now im a firm believer that u dont have to have that massive killer bat…but to play that type of ball u have to play smart and it s not happenin….shorter swings for contact,movin runners along,hit and run,….the sox are stuck in the mode of workin counts when plenty of meatballs being takin for strikes…u can work the count if you dont occasionally rip away….takin hacks will make the pitchers nibble….geez its not rocket science…..now the sox saved alot of money by not signing texeira…and to tell ya the truth ive been saying all along that a WOW package needed to get adrian gonzalez should be put on the table….bucholz,bowden,delcarmen,lars…none are proven….and gonzo is…period….oh wait …are we worried about hurtin someones feelings by pickin up gonzo?…where would he play?….well ya know my feelins are hurt by plrs underachievin for awhile now….i know this deal wont happen because laroche was picked up….it might in the offseason tho….now that theo has waited, the sox look desperate and cleveland can raise the price on vmart…i expect theo to make a deal involving no one we have mentioned from an obscure team….probably adam dunn or someone similiar….sigh….sigh….sigh….theos record lately hasnt been real good when u look at the track record of late closely….drew,lugo,dice k,rocco/kotsay,smoltz…now other than drew and dice k nothin major….i think we need major….we keep hoping for the bats to come alive and bash our panic…..its been a long time commin…..the race could be over in 2 weeks……think on it……judge

It was great to be at Fenway yesterday when they should part of Jim Rice’s speech on the screen.

Just heard that Junichi Tazawa has been promoted to the PawSox from Double-A Portland.

I know we’re in a pretty dark place right now, but one bright spot is that the Yankees play 18 out of the next 26 games on the road. The damage that they do in Yankee Stadium with all those homeruns is scary… The rest of July and then in August we have 18 home games and 15 away… Maybe we can take advantage of them not being in the launching pad… But we MUST start hitting. Jason, Drew and Papi need to collectively go for craniectomys.. In other words they all need to pull their heads out of the butts!!!!

Julia.. We are putting a GPS on you and if you go near Fenway, we WILL know!!! LOL

You suck Browne

Hey everyone, Hey Andrew,
The Sox right now, and I’m stating the obvious, are in need of bats so what do we do — go after free agent pitching! Ya like Gagne and Dice-K solved all our headaches.
The problem with free agents is we depend on them and they ALWAYS let us down. Look at Santana and Sebastia and Burnett. Were they worth it? You need a team not a player.
When will Theo get it through is thick head that going after these big guns gets you nowhere. Didn’t Lugo and Drew teach him anything?
I also wonder about management. This team is far better than its playing. Anybody can get to this lineup. It’s pathetic. Stick the lineup on the St. Louis Cardinals and suddenly they blast the scoreboard. What’s the problem here?
Anyway, glad to see Rice in the hall. Man that 75 team was amazing, Rice, Fisk, Yastremski all in the hall. That is amazing. Now if only Lynn and Doyle and Burleson and Petrocelli and Cooper could get that recognition but I know — they didn’t have the longevity and numbers.

I promise!!! I will NOT go to Fenway! I will stay home, drink and watch the game on TV like a good girl! :-)

Lineup for tonight’s game:

Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Bay, Drew, LaRoche, Varitek, Lowrie. Beckett.

LaRoche is getting a LOT of use – and this is two games in a row that Mikey has sat out…..hmmm…..

******NEW THREAD****************

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