Sidebars: Spring Training, “The
Kid,” Tom Yawkey & more
the Super Bowl behind us thoughts turn in New England to perhaps the
most beloved sports team –the Boston Red Sox. Herewith for your reading
pleasure, snippets about the Old Towne Team.
Williams and Yogi Berra
PARNELL: I was 25-years old in 1947 when I
spring training at Sarasota, Florida, with the Red Sox. There were two
open on the pitching staff, six of us vying. Harry
got one; I got the other.
came into Fenway
for the first time and saw that leftfield fence, and I thought maybe I
signed with the wrong organization. But it helped me work on making a
my pitching style. I came up as a fastball pitcher but soon realized I
have to use a lot more breaking stuff. Pitching at Fenway Park
makes you a better pitcher as you move along.
pitched my first major league game on
April 20 against Washington. Frankie Hayes, an old
player, was my catcher. I lost that game, 3–2, on a passed ball. I
why I remember Frankie.
truly impressed me as a rookie kid to see Mr. Yawkey on the field
batting practice with us. I didn’t see
him hit any balls out, but he got some close to the wall. The kids who
around the ballpark would shag flies for him. When he was done, he
each one a twenty-dollar bill.
MELE: I started my major league career on April 15, 1947.
It was against the Philadelphia
Athletics at Fenway
Park. I walked my
time at bat. Then I doubled off the left field wall. Next I singled.
I was just thrilled to be there in the
outfield with Dom DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
“Any ball you can get, you chase me the hell off," second
Bobby Doerr would tell me. "But don't yell ' I got it, I got it' just
once. Two or three times and I'll get the hell out of the way." We
never run together and never did a ball drop in.
DIMAGGIO: Sam Mele wasn’t a bad outfielder. Ted Williams wasn’t a bad outfielder either
especially at Fenway - - he played that
wall nicely. I enjoyed a challenge,
Fenway Park did offer a challenge
its structure. I mastered the ballpark and got along beautifully with
fences; they didn’t hurt me and I didn’t hurt them.
I did not shoot for the Green Monster. No. I
was an all-around hitter, a line-drive hitter, a damn good one too. I loved to hit in Fenway.
MELE: I was moved around by the hand
signals. Ted and Dom were veterans and I was just beginning my career.
every team was different naturally. Guys
hit to right field no power, give me the palm, go in.
Go back against the good hitters, like Mo
Skowron, go back. He had good power to
Right field, oh how fucking tough that was to
play. The sun came right over the stands.
And the carom along the right
field fence… you cannot go directly towards the wall for the ball. You gotta surround it because it curves. And if it ever goes by you it would end up,
oh, half way to centerfield.
that time, they did not have the walls
padded. I went into the right field wall and banged into it. Right after that they padded the right
field wall. I went into the bullpen
fence. Later on they padded the bullpen fence.
After every game, everybody--Dom, Pesky,
Doerr--would all gather around Williams' locker and we would talk about
happened that day. We would talk about what was going to happen
if Ted didn't know about the pitcher for the next day, he would ask
us, maybe we saw him and he didn't, maybe we saw him in the minors,
knew something about the guy....
always sat next to Williams in the dugout.
Matter of fact he would call me over if I didn't. "You sit
here." He used to tell me about the pitcher: “Look for this, look for
that, he's fast, but his ball doesn't move as much as somebody else’s.“
he didn't know that pitcher he would go up and down the whole dugout
know: "Has anybody seen this guy?
How's his curveball? Slow? Does it go down and in? Has
he got a sinker?” Things like that.
Ted Williams more than made good on a
promise to a boy in the Malden
hospital that he would hit a homer for him. “The Kid” hit two home runs
kid. Both were pounded to left field, the first pair he'd hit there in
career. The roundtrippers paced a 19-6
walloping of the White Sox.
Red Sox's longtime
owner was never enthusiastic about night baseball. As The Boston
Globe's Hy Hurwitz reported, "Yawkey is strictly in the baseball
business" and added that Yawkey didn't "believe in fashion shows,
nylon hosiery, door prizes and other nonsense."
bowing to League pressure, Yawkey yielded, agreeing
to 14 night games, two with each American
League team. The Red Sox became the last club in their league to play
lights at home.
the most prolific and respected
sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of
autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan,, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman,
Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and has arguably written more books, articles
and reviews on the Yankees than anyone. In 2010, he was honored by the
New York to serve as historical consultant for the re-imagined old
Stadium site, Heritage Field
professor now for more than two decades in the MALS program at
College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni
magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com. Autographed
copies of his books
are available from the author.