About the Author
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Our family moved from Fall River, Massachusetts, to Swansea, and then to Somerset around the time I was ready to play Little League. My dad, Joseph, and my mother, Connie, had wanted to leave the triple decker tenement we lived in in Fall River for some time and they finally scraped together enough money to purchase a very modest home in a working-class neighborhood — one that was best for my sister, Judy, and me to grow up in.
Little League baseball seemed to come pretty easy to me and I was like every good player at that age in that I played shortstop and I pitched. I was a terrible pitcher but a good left-handed hitter. I could tell — and all the coaches could tell — that there was something there a little bit different than the other kids. My team was the Orioles. I think the fact I was good got my mother interested in what I was doing with sports. My mother was a dance instructor and a hairdresser, and my father worked at Globe Manufacturing, a rubber plant in Fall River. We moved to Swansea first, where we had a very modest little home. Our home was just down the road from my mother's parents. My grandfather was a huge, huge Red Sox fan. And my father was a huge Ted Williams fan. So that's how I really got involved with the game of baseball. I could remember sitting with my grandfather. In those days most of the games were on radio. He'd sit out on his porch and he'd be smoking a big cigar while listening to the games. I'd sit there and listen to them with him. And he would just go absolutely bonkers when somebody would walk. He hated walks.
My mother knew nothing at all about baseball, but she probably became one of the biggest fans the Red Sox would ever have before she passed away. But she learned everything about the game through my father and through watching me. Our house in Somerset was a step above what we had in Swansea. And the location was ideal because I was only 50 feet away from a park, which had a baseball field, a basketball court, a softball field, and a little pond that used to freeze in the winter, so we were able to skate on it. I had all the sports right there for me to do all the time. And that's where I spent all of my free time. It was a great place to grow up because there were always kids at that playground doing something.
We had all these weird games where you had four guys on the field and one would be hitting, one would be pitching, one would be in the outfield, and one would be in the infield. And we just used half the field. If it was a right-handed hitter, everybody would play the left side. Because I was a left-handed hitter, they'd pitch to me from third base. If I'd pull the ball they wouldn't have to move. So, I'd hit it to that field.
I could hear my mother yell for me from the house when it was time to come home. It was that kind of a setup.
When I started playing organized baseball the coaches immediately made me the shortstop, which was usually the best player. I had my Yaz stance with the bat held high. Yaz was my hero. It was 1967 when I really took to listening and watching all the games. That team caught the attention of everybody in New England. I was lucky enough to watch what he did in '67 when he won the Triple Crown in one of the greatest seasons by any player in history. And then I got to play with him, which was pretty remarkable. Every time I played against him when I was with the Angels was pretty amazing.
But back in Little League, I know there were officials and coaches fighting over me. I don't know what the ins and outs were. I just know my coach was Pete Reese and that I always ended up on the Orioles. That was my first introduction to organized baseball. It was a ton of fun. Four years of Little League went by so fast. At that time, Little League was for kids nine to 12 years old. And those years just seemed to fly by.
My dad loved baseball and he played softball late in life, on nights and weekends when he was still working. He was a kind guy. After working at the manufacturing plant, he became a furniture salesman at Mason's Furniture in Fall River. His love for Ted Williams was off the charts. Everything Ted did, that's all he talked about. He loved horse racing and dog racing. He liked to play cards. And he would always try to get my mother to move to Florida, but she would have none of it until later on in life when they eventually wound up down there. If my mother said I was a bad boy one day, he was responsible for coming home and taking care of it with the strap. I think half the time he was using the strap on me he didn't know what I had done wrong. But he wasn't pushy, sports-wise. He just had a love for baseball and that love kind of trickled down to me. He taught me a lot about baseball, but I think I was more self-taught.
I used to pretend the back of my grandfather's house was the Green Monster. I used to throw the ball up by myself and then try to hit it off the Green Monster. It just so happened that right field was the longer part of the field, so I thought I was playing at Fenway. The roof itself was the screen at Fenway Park and the house was the left-field wall. It wasn't green. I think it was something like a pink house, some weird color. And I remember going out there and just throwing the Wiffle balls and tennis balls and whacking them off the house. Maybe that's how I got my opposite-field stroke. The problem is when I got to the big leagues I couldn't reach the left-field wall!
Those childhood days were special to me. There were no worries. There were no complications. It was just having fun. I had a good family. I felt loved. The atmosphere I grew up in is what I knew. My life was playing baseball and, later as a teenager, spending time with my friends, smoking Marlboros and drinking Buds.
Baseball was my first love. I loved all sports. When basketball season would come around, I'd play basketball. And then football. And flag football. But baseball was always the one I looked forward to, for some reason. Maybe it's because I felt I had some talent there. I don't know. I guess it was built into my family because of the way my father and my grandfather emphasized it and talked about it so much.
The one thing I always had going for me was that I was fast. I remember some fast kid from Somerset High wanted to race. We raced, and I think the kid beat me. And I couldn't believe it because nobody had ever beaten me before. I always had really good speed. That helped me in a lot of sports, especially in pickup basketball games, because although I couldn't shoot, I could drive by people. I was always the end in football because I could run the routes and beat everybody.
When I got to high school, my coach, Jim Sullivan, was the football and baseball coach. I wanted to play all three sports and I remember going out for football as a halfback. But I never made it into a game. I'll never forget the first time I carried the ball in practice. It was like a maze going through the line. I couldn't see where I was going. There were people all over the place trying to block. I can't be sure how many practices I made it through, but Coach Sullivan came up to me and he said, "Look, the wise thing for you to do would be to play baseball because there's no sense in you getting hurt playing football." So I left the team. I never played a snap of football in high school but I loved it as a kid growing up. But because of his advice and because I trusted him so much, I just focused on baseball.
I still wanted to keep playing basketball. I was playing on the JV team and I had an injury to my right hand, my shooting hand, and I didn't tell the coach. We got into a game and a pass came to me in the corner and I took a shot with my left hand. And he went ape shit. I mean he just went crazy. At halftime we got into the locker room and he just tore into me about shooting with my left hand. He said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Well, my right hand is hurt."
He said, "Well, you've got to tell me." He was pissed. And so that was the end for me.
After he tore into me about that I said, "I'm not up for this."
Baseball then became everything to me. I was always trying to keep my grades up so I could make the baseball team. I was not a good student at all. My grades were sinking because I was doing all the other sports but I really wanted to play baseball, so I was really trying to do everything I possibly could to get the grades good enough to be able to be on the baseball team.
One of my best friends to this day is Henry Veloza. He was a great kid and although we don't talk as much as we used to, we're still in contact. We had some crazy times as high school kids, I'll tell ya. We were this far from being in trouble all the time. And another friend of mine was Bob Fortin, but he didn't go to Somerset High, he went to Bishop Connolly. But we were all really close and we raised some hell. How we didn't end up in jail at times, I don't know. I didn't put much focus on school. But we loved our sports and we loved to have a good time. Life goes on and you don't see these people as much as you used to. But the fact is they're always in your heart because they're part of your childhood.
What was really weird was when I was playing in high school they used to tell me scouts were there, but I never really saw any. There was one local scout from Fall River named Skippy Lewis, who worked for the Washington Senators. Coach Sullivan got his attention and asked him to watch me play. And he eventually drafted me to the Washington Senators in the 19 round of the June amateur draft in 1970. As a matter of fact, Ted Williams was the manager of the Senators at that time, which my dad loved. For me it was not even a question: I wanted to sign. And then I had other people saying I had to go to school and get a college education. Well, I wasn't a good student.
I finally made a decision, probably against my father's will, to try college. And the reason I tried college was because we had another kid in town, Chucky Souza, who was a very good player. He went to St. Leo's in Florida. And he was one of these big power hitters, a guy who could hit the ball off the school on the other side of the field. He was a couple of years older than me and he kind of talked me into going to St. Leo's to play college baseball. The thing is, I never got invited by St. Leo's to go down there. It was just his word to the coach that he knew a pretty good player up here in Somerset who might be a good player at St. Leo's. There was no money for me coming out of high school, so I went down to St. Leo's with Chucky. I remember getting to the first practice, but I never got into the locker room. The coach came walking out and he said to me, "I hate to tell you this, but you're academically ineligible to play." Back then anybody could get in there.
I said, "What!"
He said, "I suggest you go to a junior college for a couple of years and come back and play here." I knew right way that I would never do that.
I stayed down there for about two weeks and actually enrolled for classes, but I never bought a book. I played in ping-pong tournaments every day. I never did any work. I called my parents and told them I was coming home. Man, were they upset. I tried to explain to them what happened. I said I'm not going to a junior college in Florida. I don't know anything about Florida. I told them the only reason I came down was because Chucky told me that I'd probably be playing at St. Leo's. I don't know if the story about me being academically ineligible was correct or if the coach just didn't want me. I have no idea because he never saw me play.
I came back up north and enrolled at Roger Williams College in Providence, Rhode Island, and finished out a semester. My childhood friend Henry also went there, so we used to drive up together. In those days there was a secondary draft in January, and much to my surprise, the Angels picked me in the eighth round of the 1971 draft, even though I had never spoken to anybody from the Angels. I always had the feeling that I was one of those leftover players who didn't sign in the original draft and then got picked in the secondary draft. Even there I was a low pick.
The scout who signed me was Dick Winseck. I met him in Boston, but there was no real money involved. It was $500 a month to play rookie league ball and they also offered to pay for my college education for a couple of years, not knowing at the time that they were going to send me to winter ball every year and that I would never go to college. I really didn't give a shit. I remember being up there with my father and signing my first professional contract with this guy who I'd never met in my life. I don't know how they got the name, I don't know how they got the information. I never saw him at a game. To me it was like they looked at the draft list from June, looked at the guys who didn't sign, and they said, "Okay, let's try to sign a couple of these guys up." I was just a guy they took and that was it. There were no expectations at all. That's how I ended up with the Angels.
When I first got to the minors I was so outclassed. I'm playing with kids from California, Texas, and Florida. My high school schedule was 16 games and we got snowed out of two of those. I had basically no experience compared to the kids I was playing with. And when I got down there it was a real eye-opener to see how badly I was behind these kids. It was depressing because I was like, "What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here." I made it through my first spring training and they were going to release me instead of going to what they called it in those days, the "short season." It was just June, July, and August. I was in Holtville, California, down near the Mexican border. That's where the minor leagues trained. I heard the story later that in their meetings they were going to send me home. There was one guy who stood up for me — Kenny Myers. He was an old crusty baseball guy who had worked for the Dodgers for many, many years. He had turned Willie Davis into a good player. He liked me because I could run. He's the reason — the only reason — that my professional baseball career continued. He said, "If he can run, I can teach him how to play." And that's what he had done with Willie Davis.
I'll never forget that. I didn't know it at the time but the farm director, Tom Sommers, told me when I made the big leagues: "You were on your way home because nobody was behind you. We saw you, you were well behind. We didn't think you had the tools." I finally got to talk to Kenny — well, you didn't talk much to Kenny. Kenny did a lot of talking to you. He was like a roving instructor so if we had a 7:00 pm game he had me out there at 10:00 in the morning just working on hitting, working on everything. He was tough but he was a great teacher. He did teach me how to play professional baseball. It was tough, but it made me tough.
I was on the Idaho Falls team and they optioned me to a team in Twin Falls, Idaho. That was one of my first real challenges, being on a team my first year with a bunch of guys who got optioned off their teams. I almost quit during the season and then after the season when I went back to Somerset. I told my father, "This is not for me. I'm going with a bunch of optioned players on some shit team."
He talked me out of quitting. He said, "Well, try to hang in there for a couple more months." Things started turning around for me a little bit.
I was way off everybody's radar screen. I didn't know at the end of that season whether I'd be back or not. I had no clue, but I made it through. I started in Stockton, California, and I did not have a good year. I struck out more than 100 times. I couldn't believe I struck out that much. I wasn't a swing-and-miss guy. The only fun part about playing in that league was my roommate, Danny Briggs, and I were also the clubhouse managers. We'd stay after the game and drink a few beers. We'd clean the clubhouse, clean the spikes, get the uniforms washed, and we'd pick up a few extra bucks from the players to do that. I think meal money in those days was like $5 a day or something. We had one trip when we missed the team bus but we had the uniforms. We were going to Bakersfield and we had to jump in Danny's car and drive and we were well behind the time we're supposed to be there. We had all the uniforms in the back of a Volkswagen. We pull into the ballpark in Bakersfield and the manager, Mike Stubbins, was standing out there in his underwear with his arms folded as we pull up in this VW bug. And we just handed out the uniforms and oh, was he pissed. We played that night but it wasn't a good all-around year for me.
The next year they sent me to Davenport, Iowa, which was A-ball. And that's where things started to take off for me. That's the year that I led the league in hitting with a .335 average and I caught the attention of the minor league organization. Davenport was right on the Mississippi. Early in the season the river would flood so the ballpark would get half-flooded in right field. And they used to put a rope up and anything over the rope was a ground-rule double if it landed in the water. If it went over the fence it was a home run. We even had games moved to a high school field because of the flooding. But that's where I ran into Dave Collins, who was my roommate and always remained a good friend of mine, and we played together and made the big leagues together. We had an absolute ball. Collins and I used to get up in the morning and we'd call the ballpark to ask whether the game was going to be rained out. If they weren't going to play, we were going to have a hell of a day.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "If These Walls Could Talk: Boston Red Sox"
Copyright © 2019 Jerry Remy and Nick Cafardo.
Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword Sean McDonough ix
Chapter 1 The Beginning 1
Chapter 2 1978 23
Chapter 3 My Coaching Career 43
Chapter 4 Ah, Fenway 49
Chapter 5 Who Did It Best? 59
Chapter 6 2004: My Favorite Team 79
Chapter 7 2007 93
Chapter 8 2013 105
Chapter 9 2018 117
Chapter 10 My All-Time Favorite Players 127
Chapter 11 The Memorable Highs And Lows 135
Chapter 12 My Broadcast Partners 151
Chapter 13 Remy Inc 171
Chapter 14 The Changes In Baseball 177
Chapter 15 Depression 191
Chapter 16 Jared 199
Chapter 17 Dealing with Cancer 205
Chapter 18 In Conclusion 213
Afterword Don Orsillo 223
In Tribute to Nick Cafardo 231
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good read about a normal guy with challenges.
could not put it down. stayed up to 2am to finish. jerry was very open about his life goid and baf.