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
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)
Library of Book Reviews