Notes from the BoSox Club Luncheon - June 27, 2018

Mike Vining opened the luncheon by introducing the head table guests and then welcoming our military guests from the United States Navy.

After members sought autographs, MC Mike Dowling introduced Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright. He went first because he had just gone on the 10-day disable list for a knee issue and needed to leave early to get to a rehab session. Wright talked about the medical treatment he had received after the surgery he had in 2017, one that was similar to that of Dustin Pedroia's. They were both told, he said, that there would be bumps in the road such as they both have recently suffered. Everybody pitches through stuff, he added, but said that he's in the back end of the rehab process at this time.

As to pitching as a knuckleballer, he admitted what every knuckleballer always has – he really was never sure quite where the ball was going to go once it left his hand. Neither does the catcher, nor the umpire, nor – importantly – the batter. One goal he always has: "You've got to make it look like a strike."

He mixes in the occasional other pitch, but his knuckleballs are even slower than the pitches that batters receive during batting practice.

His key: he banks on the defense. "I know I'm not a strikeout pitcher," he said, so he hopes the batter puts wood on the ball, but ineffectively, and then he counts on his teammates to take care of the ball.

Dick Flavin then offered a poem he had written about visiting Ted Williams in Florida, with Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky, and giving Ted a kiss on the cheek as he left. Every line in Dick's poem rhymed with the word "cheek."

Mike then introduced Anne Keene in the audience. Anne was visiting from Austin, Texas. Her father Jimmy Raugh had been the batboy on the US Navy baseball team – the Cloudbusters – at Chapel Hill, North Carolina during World War II. She exhaustively researched and wrote a book that taught her more about her father, and importantly dealt with depth about the physical education training work that so many benefitted from during the Second World War, gathering information for posterity that might well otherwise have been lost. Her book The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team That Helped Win World War II was available at the merchandise table and she signed many copies.

After the luncheon, the program resumed. Mike Dowling introduced Sam Horn, a former first-round pick out of high school in San Diego. Though he was only in Boston a relatively short time, he very much enjoyed his stay here. He particularly remembered longtime BoSox Club member, the late Lib Dooley, who told him how much she appreciated that Sam would take the time to talk with the fans at Fenway. Longtime president of the Red Sox fan chatlist Sons of Sam Horn, he now has a weekly television show What Is Your Pre-Game? The show airs at 10:00 AM Saturdays on NBC Sports Boston. He not only hosts but writes the show, and credits Sam Kennedy of the Red Sox for helping him land the show.

Our next guest was Steve Lyons, who was with the Boston Red Sox in a remarkable four different stints over a five-year period. He wore four different uniform numbers during his various times with the team.  In response to Mike Dowling's question – about the time he had slid into a base and then lowered his pants to shake out all the dirt that had come in during the slide. This happened in 1990. He said, "Not a day goes by when someone doesn't ask me about it, or mention it in passing." Since he has been around Boston as a television analyst for NESN in recent years, he says that fans in the area often come up and tell him they were at that game and saw it themselves – curious, he noted, since he was playing for the Chicago White Sox at the time and the game was played in Detroit.

Steve predicted that both the Red Sox and Yankees will win more than 100 games this and probably end up in a one-game winner-take-all playoff. It's good to have the rivalry active again.  The Red Sox have had remarkable success to date, and that despite the last three slots in the Red Sox lineup often occupied by batters hitting below .200.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., he noted, had collected six hits in the two prior games and he was hoping Jackie was about to catch fire and he often does. Defensively, Steve said, Jackie was the best center fielder he has seen in his 35 years in baseball.

Of Joe Kelly, he said that while none of us condone the brawl that erupted between him and the Yankees' Tyler Austin, fans all loved it. Steve said it really fired up Joe Kelly. Joe now looks like a pitcher who wants to dominate, he said. He's been changed as a pitcher.  As to brawls, he said "The best thing to do is grab a guy from the other team and dance with him." That way both are engaged in a certain kind of struggle but neither are really throwing punches or going to hurt anyone. He said that Mookie Betts had run in from right field but looked a little lost; he later said he'd never been in a baseball fight before and literally didn't know what to do.

Steve said the team as currently constituted can compete just the way it is.  Red Sox ownership, however, has down that they do what they need to do. "We don't rebuild," he said, "We reload."

Rick Leco then ran the raffle and several club members went home with another souvenir – a Mookie Betts bat being perhaps the prime prize.

--by Bill Nowlin

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