It was some years ago when I was at Fenway Park doing research and interviewing for one of my baseball books. My son Fred was then a teenager and he accompanied me to the park dressed in a red sweater and packing his baseball glove -- just in case.
We arrived at the legendary park quite a few hours before game time as is my practice when I am working. Fenway was empty. There was no one in the stands but my son anxious to catch a ball.
I interviewed one player and then another and then interrupted Johnny Pesky who was hitting fungoes and interviewed him. Gracious, enthusiastic, informed, the man they call "Mr. Red Sox" gave me more than the time of day.
So I figured I could impose.
"See that kid in the outfield stands with the red sweater. Could you hit a ball out to him?"
"And if I hit him on the noggin, then what! We are all in trouble."
"You are right," I said, and walked away to interview others.
Minutes later through the empty ballpark I heard my son's voice and saw him running through the stands to the home plate area. He was shouting: "I got it. I got it." And he had a ball in his hand.
Pesky was near me and yelled. "Get me that ball. The kid isn't supposed to have it."
I went over to my son and got the baseball and brought it to Pesky.
"What's your son's name?"
I told him. He autographed the ball "To Fred. Great catch. Johnny Pesky"
Fred is now an AP Correspondent based in DC. He still has the ball.
And wonderfully we still have the baseball treasure Johnny Pesky who gets his Number Six retired and turns 89 on a terrific doubleheader weekend at Fenway Park starting September 26, 2008!
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including “New York City Baseball,1947-1957″ and “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball”. His “Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of the House that Ruth Built” (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his “Shoeless Joe and Ragtime
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
**Call for Fenway Memories - now working on "Remembering
*****Fenway Park" - will feature stories– first game attended, marker moments, odd events, tales of a special player at the Fens, architectural features... Please contact me by e-mail if you have something to contribute.