By Dick Flavin
Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate
and New York Times Best Selling Author
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY
I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond if someone sends me a text message during
a Red Sox day game this season that says, “You never sounded better in the P.A. booth!”
That would be a dandy compliment to get. The problem is it probably won’t be my voice
that’s being complimented. After five seasons of being the Red Sox public address
announcer during day games at Fenway Park I’m stepping aside this year. Henry
Mahegan, who has been very capably doing the night games, which translates into the
vast majority of them, will be doing the full schedule this year. I’ll still be available on an
as-needed basis, as will my pal, the great Bob Lobel.
To be clear, this wasn’t my idea (nobody quits that gig of his own free will) but I do not
disagree with it. I think it makes sense to have a single voice making the announcements
at games and Henry’s is the right choice.
Truth to tell, I’m relieved that the decision was made for me. I’ve got plenty on my plate
this year: I’m at work on a new book of baseball poetry; I make appearances around
Fenway Park and throughout Red Sox Nation; I write my weekly Musings; and there is
an idea for a TV show with Lobel that is in the developmental stage.
The new book transforms popular nursery rhymes into rhymes with baseball themes.
Major League Baseball is making a concerted effort to attract younger fans, so why not
expose them to the wonders of the game at an early age? The rhymes will be fun and as I
evision it, every parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle (or some of them, anyhow,) will rush
out to buy a copy for little Johnny or Joanne. The book will not be Red Sox specific but
about the game of baseball, so I expect that, when it comes out, I’ll be traveling to many
different markets to promote it which would have conflicted with my duties in the P.A.
booth. “Red Sox Rhymes,” my first book, made The New York Times’ best-selling list
for sports books, so why not this one? The new book’s working title, at least as of this
week, is “Play Ball, Baby!”
I love doing appearances, reciting my poems, and telling Red Sox stories. Just the other
day we were in the Holliston, MA., Senior Center along with the 2004 World Series
trophy to celebrate the 100 th birthday of Barbara Chamberlain, who is as sharp as a tack
and who never misses a Sox game on TV, even when they are on the West Coast. When
they are still playing, long after most of us have left for the Land of Nod, Barbara is still
tuned in to every pitch. If it comes to it, I’ll even go from door to door to do these
appearances. If you want to book a date, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These Musings have become an important part of my weekly routine. I have a lot of
stories to tell (some of them might even be true!) and these blogs have turned out to be
the perfect venue for them. It’s interesting that in one of my previous lives, when I was
doing television commentaries, we were constantly facing deadlines and I got used to
batting out the first drafts of scripts, recording them, and then moving on to the next one.
Now that I can take more time on a piece, I walk around it a little, kick the tires, and
twiddle my thumbs until the deadline is approaching. Then, when I have no choice, I get
down to work. I am also lucky to have a strict teacher correcting my papers. Barry
Shuman, who is a great pal and a devout Red Sox disciple, is a retired school teacher
from Brookline. I send him drafts of my Musings to proofread for gammatical and factual
errors. He always finds some, thus saving me from myself. My new life’s ambition is to
get a perfect score from Barry. If recent history is any judge, my odds are not good.
Then there is the TV idea that Bob Lobel and I are playing around with. The Red Sox
have asked us watch some games together, give our observations and opinions on the
action, and then, under the impression that one of us might say something witty or in
some way intelligent, edit it down for use somewhere on the internet or whereever. As
you can tell it is not an idea that is fully formed; I would say that it’s early in the first
trimester. We’ll see what happens. Lobel is a very clever and talented guy and, who
knows? I might even accidentally stumble across a halfway worthwhile thought now and
So it’s early in the season, but I’m already up to full speed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I
have to go read some nursery rhymes. Just to give you an idea of what the new book will
be like, here’s an example taken from it:
Peter, Peter had a heater,
Ninety-seven on the meter.
To be an all-star was his goal,
But he lacked one thing: control.
He threw his pitches high and wide,
Or sometimes just a bit inside.
In one way they were all alike;
None of them was called a strike.
It caused his manager to glower,
And Pete to take an early shower.