Ted Kennedy And Baseball

Just a quick trip back in time, to 1964, after the late Senator had broken his back in a plane crash, in route to accepting his nomination for his first full term. Two of these figures are instantly recognizable – the one at the far left has chops particularly relevant here… try to ID them all before reading the caption below.

Russell-Pesky-et al.jpg

Got him yet?

One more line and the quiz ends, regardless.

Johnny Pesky – just before or just after his two-year tenure as Red Sox manager ended; legendary Celtic star and then announcer Tom Heinsohn, coach-GM Red Auerbach, coach-GM (and 20-year star center) Milt Schmidt of the Bruins, and Heinsohn’s teammates Bill Russell and Bob Cousy.

Russell – who basically does not do interviews unless he truly wants to – came on with us after the Kennedy Funeral service in Boston, which is not at all a tribute to the interviewers, but rather to the man whose funeral he attended this morning and early afternoon – who just happened to have thrown out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park this April. And that is baseball history, too. Kennedy’s grandfather, Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald threw out the first pitch at the first Red Sox opening day ever at Fenway, in 1912.

4 Comments

Supposedly Senator Kennedy did a terrific imitation of Honey Fitz, that if you were a Kennedy boy, you HAD to be able to do it. I read that he said the most nervous he had been in years was when he got to throw out the first pitch on opening day at Fenway this year.

It used to be that members of Congress would go to Washington Senators games together. They would actually talk. That’s one of the reasons that Kennedy was a successful legislator–and I don’t mean that as a political comment because this blog is not for politics; I mean that he got things passed, and the same could be said of people on both sides of the aisle. Maybe if we could make these guys sit and watch ball games together, they would get a little more done! There’s nothing like baseball to fix what ails you.

I saw your interview with Bill Russell today and it blew me away. As a kid, I knew the name Bill Russell before I knew the name Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski. Bill Russell. He was the first sports figure I ever heard about as a child. My biggest regret is never having seen him play. I turned a corner in my office lobby about 2 years ago and there standing in front of me was Russell. I had heard that he wasn’t too friendly so I decided not to say anything to him. Well, he looked down at me, smiled and said hello. I will never forget it.

And your interview with him today, what a surprise to see him come on the screen. I had no idea about his relationship with Ted Kennedy. It bowled me over.

Your coverage these last fews days has been so gracious. I can’t help think of the Ted Kennedy know one bothered to get to know. By 1968, Ted had lost 3 brothers, 1 sister and his father had suffered a stroke. After Bobby died, it all fell to Ted. He was just 36 years old. So for all his frailties and joys, Ted was a man who had never forgotten his roots – he had learned from a very young age through his mother, father and grandfather the prejudices so prevalent in our society, but especially right here in Boston. So he carried the torch not for his brothers, but instead for those who had no one to lead them, whether they be immigrants, veterans, the poor, the working class and minorities. He knew instinctively his responsibility as a Senator. Someone nailed it perfectly today – we learned through Ted that life isn’t about perfection, it’s about growing and reaching out to people. That life is not Camelot. Ted knew that life was full of pain and suffering and prejudices. And so he never walked away. He never gave in. He stayed to the very end, facing head on each and every uphill battle. And we are today are better country because of him. May Senator Kennedy RIP. He will be greatly missed.

Ted Kennedy and Bill Russell. Very poignant.

I agree with 1948Braves. Your coverage of Ted Kennedy’s passing was gracious, and eloquent. Your compassion comes through very clearly when you speak.

I love hearing about the history of the game, and when you talked about Christy Mathewson recently, I almost felt like I was there – and I wanted to be. I’d love to tour the Baseball Hall of Fame someday, but I think it would be far more interesting if you were my tour guide. :) You have a way of bringing things to life.

Thank you.

One would imagine that Mayor Fitzgerald has heard a lot about the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox from his grandson. Hopefully that news will inspire the Mayor and the other Royal Rooters to sing a few choruses of “Tessie”.

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