Tales from the Red Sox Dugout
By Jim Prime, with Bill Nowlin.
Illustrations by Bob Jackson
Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing Inc. 2000
Nova Scotia is actually an extension of New England (or vice versa, I’m not sure which). You just drive up to Maine and if you forget to stop you’ll eventually be in Nova Scotia. There’s always been a lot of traffic back and forth. New Englanders helped settle the province, and then half the province moved to New England to work in the mills. Nova Scotians had a second home in "the Boston States", and they became good Red Sox fans. Jim Prime is one of those fans of the North, and has written a charming little book subtitled A Collection of the Greatest Red Sox Stories Ever Told.
For instance, according to two guys who pitched to him (Mel Parnell and Mickey McDermott), Sammy White used to put women’s falsies in his catcher’s mitt to protect his hand against the pounding of fastballs. No there’s a tip you won’t see in the Little League instructional books! According to McDermott, Sammy used to paint them to look more realistic. One day there was a close play at the plate, his mitt was knocked off and, well, you get the idea. (Sammy was a great Red Sox character, whom a later generation remembered better for the big bowling alley he operated in Brighton.)
We’re not sure if Maurice "Mickey" McDermott’s stories are 100% reliable, because Mickey was a great drinker, carouser, and teller of tales. There are several pages of McDermott stories and quotes, and about the same number devoted to Bill Lee. The two pitchers were a generation apart but had much in common.
Lee calls Bernie Carbo, "baseball’s Forrest Gump", and there’s a story about Bernie hitting a grand slam, and being surprised to learn that the bases were loaded. Plus he’d hit it off a left-handed pitcher. "Now I know you’re pulling my leg. Zimmer would never let me bat against a left hander with the bases loaded."
Norm Zauchin hit a home run on State of Maine Day, and was given a caged black bear named Homer. He had no idea what to do with it; eventually the bear was sent to the city zoo in Birmingham, Alabama.
Ken Harrelson is said to have introduced batting gloves to the big leagues – he wore a golf glove on one hand. Carl Yastrzemski is quoted as saying he never had fun playing baseball. It was all work.
The cover of the book has a photo of Nomar Garciaparra taping Pedro Martinez to a post in the dugout. I was watching on TV when they did this; it turns out the team was beating the White Sox and they just wanted Pedro to shut up and stop needling the opposition. Nomar contributed a lot of anecdotes to this fun volume.
Reviewed by David Nevard (2001)
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