Without question, this Red Sox season has been an unexpected joyride, with no end in sight. But there has never been a baseball season in the century-plus history of this franchise in which reality has intruded so darkly as in this one.
It was shortly after the Sox had finished playing their annual Patriots Day game when bombs went off less than a mile away on Boylston Street, near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Five days later, Fenway Park was the designated temple of healing for a community grieving for the harm wrought to the innocent.
And now this: Red Sox TV broadcaster Jerry Remy, who has not appeared on air since Aug. 15*, the night his son, Jared, was arrested after the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, announced Thursday night that he will not be returning to the NESN broadcast booth for the remainder of the season.
* in fact has made no public appearances since his last broadcast, his only statement coming on his official Twitter account, in which he said he and his wife, Phoebe, were “heartbroken.’’ “Son or not,’’ his statement read, “I am at a loss for words articulating my disgust and remorse over this senseless and tragic act.’’
Minutes before the end of Boston’s 3-2 loss to Baltimore at Fenway Park, Remy’s business partner, John O’Rourke, released a statement on Remy’s official Twitter account. “I am full of grief for the Martel family,’’ Remy said in the statement. “My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to them. My wife and I are sick about this senseless tragedy. It’s clear this isn’t the time for me to return to broadcasting Red Sox games. It’s my hope that I can do so in the spring. I thank the Red Sox and NESN for their support through this nightmare.’’
In a region already shocked by murder charges brought against Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, fans returning their No. 81 jerseys in a ritual expression of communal loathing, the son of the homegrown RemDawg, as beloved a figure as ever has sat in front of a mike on Yawkey Way, was being held without bail, charged with killing the mother of his child.
I can recall, with great joy, being a kid and listening to many a game in my early childhood with Remy. I didn’t have cable or NESN till years later so I’d catch the pre-‘RemDawg’ broadcasts when he’d spot fill for Bob Montgomery on TV-38 with Sean McDonough. I then graduated to the latter years of the Ned Martin-Jerry Remy NESN broadcasts teamed with the TV-38 broadcasts (Jerry having replaced Montgomery), where more of the Remy persona seemed to bleed out off of McDonough’s personality. That of course has been amplified to near Superstar status (in New England and ‘The Nation’ anyway) during his more than a decade alongside Don Orsillo where the true ‘RemDawg’ emerged.
Remy, like those victims of the Marathon bombing both living and deceased, gives us yet another example of how we as individuals, a region and a ‘Nation’ can remain STRONG.