Thursday, June 11, 2009
So, enough about softball. Let's talk baseball.
On Monday evening, MY WIFE and I attended the Pitching In For Kids gala at Faneuil Hall. Pitching In For Kids is a wonderful organization that helps children and teens in the New England region. Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, of the Boston Red Sox, were the sportsmen behind the evening's endeavors.
I suppose, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you how we came to be at the event. It was, as with many things in my life, a serendipitous bit of luck.
A long time ago, blogistically speaking, I wrote a series of pieces about my past employments. One of them, Ladies Shoes, concerned my time employed by Wilbar's - a going concern in female footwear then, a gone one now. Another fellow who worked at Wilbar's, though previous to my time there, came across my story and enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, he enjoyed it so much that he wrote to tell me about his enjoyment of it. He also filled me in on a few details about the store. He knew his business, too, because Wilbar's actually was his family's business at one time.
His missive came to me on a company letterhead. After reading his far-too-fulsome praise, I looked at the company stationery it arrived on and I saw that his firm had dealings with Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox. I wrote back, giving thanks for the undeserved praise, and mentioned my high regard for Mr. Wakefield's charitable work. In return, I received another e-mail, this time from an assistant to my original correspondent, informing me that there was to be a gala benefit - the aforementioned Pitching In For Kids event - and the fellow who was my fan wanted to extend an invitation to said event. Cool!
Even cooler was the fact that tickets to the event were going for $100 a pop. MY WIFE and I would be getting in for free. It pays to blog about your past!
(It really does. The ads that appear on this site give me a couple of bucks - pretty much literally a couple of bucks - for my efforts, but the really good stuff has come from people who have read something here, liked it, and decided to reward me out of the goodness of their hearts. Here's a nice little list:
I got a gift certificate from the owners of The Pleasant Cafe because they loved my frequent nice comments about the place.
I got tons of fruitcake because of THIS. Yummy it was, too!
I've received a few wonderful books from readers, as well as some vintage Frank Zappa vinyl from good buddy Stu.
I got teddy bears from Jason Atton, my softball teammate. I think, when they saw Jay handing them to me, our teammates questioned our respective manhoods. That's all well and good for Jay because he's about 6'8" and could squash all of those guys like bugs if he so desired, but me? Just the fact that I write a blog probably makes me suspect already. Ah, what the hell. I like teddy bears. Sue me.
On the personal side, I've been contacted by old school chums a few times, as well as neighborhood friends and old bandmates. I reunited with my Cousin David through this blog. I think we're about even on what we've given to each other via sporting tickets and beer, but more on that later. I had some wonderful visits with my Cousin Dorothy and her feral cats.
I've also given my Uncle Jimmy many a reason to wonder about my sanity, such as the time I...
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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this news bulletin.
The Boston Red Sox have beaten the New York Yankees, 7 – 0, in the first of a three-game series. In related news, the Sullivan cousins drank a shitload of beer. The elder cousin, James Shawn Sullivan – and, with a name like that, you know he’s done this sort of thing before – was last seen sitting at his computer thinking he was terribly clever to come up with this “newsflash” bit while still under the influence. The younger of the two, David Sullivan, is still at large. He is accompanied by his lovely and charming wife, Lori, and his Uncle Mack. He is unarmed, except for blarney, but should still be considered very dangerous, especially if you’re his older cousin, four inches shorter, and you match him beer for beer when he’s drinking Bud Lite and you’ve decided to take on Harpoon IPA as ballast. There is no reward being offered for their capture, and both of them find this highly insulting, so next time they get together, they’ll try to do something more heinous.
We now return you to whatever bullshit Suldog was cranking out.
... but, putting that aside for the moment - and, of course, I should have put it aside a moment earlier and saved us all five minutes - in Alabama, the Tuscaloosa.
Anyway, the important thing is that we got in free. We decided that we’d bid on a couple of items in the silent auction and, if we made the highest bids, donate in that way. I bid $75 for a Luis Tiant autographed baseball and MY WIFE bid $100 for dinner at some fancy-schmancy restaurant. However, we were outbid by the end and so that sort of evened out our previous disastrous encounter with a silent auction. We had opportunity to buy a whole bunch of raffle tickets, and we bought a few drinks (I'm sure the bar proceeds must have gone to the charity, also) so we weren't total slugs.
The event was billed as a chance to see your Red Sox heroes in person, and they were there in force. Wakefield and Varitek, as previously mentioned, were the stars, but David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, George Kottaras, Nick Green, and Jonathan Papelbon were unannounced attendees. In addition, Coach Bill Belichick of the Patriots was there; a player from The New England Revolution soccer team, whose name I can’t recall at the moment; local sports reporters and TV personalities, including Steve Burton, Heidi Watney, Tom Caron, and The Mad Fisherman, Charlie Moore (who lived up to his name while he held a mic, but who was also extremely generous during the live auction); various comedians and musicians from the area who donated their efforts, the most notable being the hilarious Tony V, who ran the live auction; and, last but certainly not least, Captain Richard Phillips of Somali pirate fame.
I was personally thrilled to see old-time Sox greats Luis Tiant and Bill Lee in attendance. They were both big-time sports heroes of my misspent youth. I briefly spoke to Lee, got to shake his hand, and haven’t washed my hand since (which has more to do with my personal hygiene than it does Lee, truth be told, but now at least I have an excuse.)
The highlight of the evening, though, was the two speeches given by young men who were representative of the type of people being helped by the charitable foundation. As was made patently clear by Wakefield and Varitek – and more power to them for doing so – the real heroes of the event were these (and other) kids, their families and friends, and the staff from the hospitals and other organizations who helped them.
The first speaker was Paul Coskie, who had been in a terribly crippling accident at age 13. Now in his late teens, his speech is halting, and his walk to the stage was slow, but the fact that he was able to walk or talk AT ALL was the amazing thing. His talk to us was peppered with really good jokes. He is an intelligent and funny kid. And his heartfelt praise for the good folks at Franciscan Hospital, who brought him to the point where he could make such a speech while standing on his own two feet, was both moving and inspiring.
The second young man, Brenden Getchell, is currently a communications major at Boston College, and I have no doubt he’ll be a great success someday. He spoke with both confidence and professionalism. His story was one of rising up from a bad childhood and finding that there were good people in the world who truly cared about him. He was effusive with thanks for the folks at the Ron Burton Training Village, for other helps he had been given, and vowed to pay it back via similar effort of his own in years to come, for others in similar need.
Needless to say, both of these fine young gentlemen received loud and prolonged standing ovations.
I don’t suppose there’s much else of import to tell about the event. They raised a lot of money for a good cause, of course, and that’s the best news.
As for the Sox-Yankees game the following night, I suppose I should begin by telling you all about...
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We interrupt that totally contrived sentence for a breaking development in the Sullivan cousins story. We have received word that JIM’S WIFE actually tried to meet them at the Cask 'n Flagon prior to the game, since she had an appointment downtown around the same time period. She acted upon a whim while approaching Kenmore Square and decided to surprise the boys. However, while she thought it would be relatively easy to spot Jim, since he was wearing a bright red baseball jacket emblazoned with “BOSTON”, it turns out that every other guy in the joint was wearing a bright red baseball jacket emblazoned with “BOSTON”, this being a bar right next to Fenway Park on game night and all. She had about as much success in specifically finding Jim as she might have if she had stuck her head in the door of any bar in Boston and yelled, “Hey! Is Sully here?”
However, Jim is reported to have thought that HIS WIFE is truly one-of-a-kind for even making the attempt, and he especially got a kick out of seeing a “Vote For Youk!” poster on his door when he arrived home, since a radio station had been handing them out near the bar and he was entirely flummoxed as to how in hell one made its way to Watertown.
We now return you to a semi-humorous half-sentence.
...and so, the poodle was drenched in peanut butter. It resembled some sort of filthy barking toilet brush.
(I never thought I’d have the guts to tell that story in a public forum. It must have been the 8th beer. I’ll certainly never put it in print again, so consider yourself blessed that you were here at the right time.)
Soon, with more better stuff.