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Sandlot Baseball – Meet the Red Sox Day, 1962 (Part 1)

September 13, 2010

( Excerpts from my newly-released book, INSPIROBICS – Working Out Your

In January of 1962, my grandfather took me to The Annual Meet-The-Red-Sox Day at Fenway Park in Boston, where I got to shake hands with the likes of hot-corner patrolman, Frank Malzone, and pitching phenom, Don Schwall, the 1961 Rookie of the Year. I could hardly wait for the big leaguers to ink their names into my new, maroon autograph book. 

(click on autographs to enlarge) 

Autographs for Don Schwall and Bill Monbouquette from the 1962 Meet the Red Sox Day


Though I was familiar with all of the players on the roster, I decided it might be smart to memorize some of their statistics from prior seasons. While I imagined my peers not knowing what to say to Bill Monbouquette, I pictured myself glibly saying, “Nice season, Monbo. How does it feel to win fourteen games?” Of course, I wouldn’t mention anything about the fourteen games he coughed up. 

The Red Sox were nothing to brag about, unless you were a kid from a Boston suburb and one day expected to be the team’s opening-day pitcher. They were perennial cellar-dwellers. But they were my team, and I plodded on memorizing their batting averages. 

With the retirement of Bean Town legend, Ted Williams, the 1961 Boston Red Sox passed the torch to a newcomer in left field. I first heard about him when I was smitten with the measles earlier that winter. I had never felt so miserable in my life, and I imagined that must have been how pitcher Frank Sullivan felt, losing sixteen games the year before. 

I remember my grandfather visiting and sharing his predictions with me. He said, “Remember this name: Carl Yastrzemski. He’ll be a great one.” 

That season, though, Yaz struggled with a microscopic batting average through June. I wondered if my grandfather had struck out with his prophecy. Still, I rooted for Number Eight. He brought magic to Fenway and a mystical abracadabra to the outfield, taming the demon left-field wall like a snake charmer bewitching a boa. 

My first impression of Meet-the-Red-Sox Day was disappointing. The lines snaking around the players were bigger than mop-up pitcher Jerry Casale’s earned-run average. To my dismay, a number of players were not even in uniform. My dream was crumbling, until I saw Monbo and second baseman, Chuck Schilling, in Red Sox attire. I set off for their autographs while my grandfather caught up with friends. 

At one point, tired of waiting in lines, I snuck up a roped-off ramp leading to the field and looked out over snow-covered Fenway Park. I stared at the towering green wall in left field known as The Green Monster, dreaming of what it would be like to cleanly field a ricochet off the scoreboard and gun down a runner at the plate. 

“Hey, kid,” a man who wasn’t wearing a uniform said behind me. “You can’t be up here.” 

Part 1 of 2 – Read Part 2 on Thursday

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