Tag Archives: Fenway Park

There’s No Place Like Home

That’s a “Wizard of Oz” reference with visions of the Green Monster landing on the Wicked Witch’s ankles.

tornado fenway 2

Last night, as my friend Mark and I were enjoying dinner before the Red Sox-White Sox game, we were told there was a tornado warning in effect for Fenway Park. As we walked from the Prudential Center to Lansdowne Street, the skies got darker and there were a few flashes of lightning.

(Source: JamesBushey/Instagram)

(Source: JamesBushey/Instagram)

I LOVE rainstorms and enjoy getting drenched — especially during or after exercising — but tornadoes are a different story.

Mark and I ducked into Jillian’s pub and bowling alley and watched the pregame show on TV until they announced when the game would start. I had a root beer float.

Surprisingly, Fenway was still packed on a rainy tornado-ridden weeknight, but we managed to find seats in the last row of the grandstands behind home plate (with our bleacher tickets).

The weather hysteria was far more enjoyable than the game itself. The anemic Red Sox only managed to get two hits all night.

Here’s the best commentary on the situation:

fenway tornado basement twitter

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Filed under Fenway Park Tornados

The Man Who Made Me a Baseball Fan

Abraham "Bob" Tubin with Red Sox second baseman Mike Andrews at Fenway Park in the early 1970s. Tubin was making a donation to the official Sox charity, The Jimmy Fund, on behalf of his fellow Boston Herald truck drivers.

Abraham “Bob” Tubin with Red Sox second baseman Mike Andrews at Fenway Park in the early 1970s. Tubin was making a donation to the official Sox charity, The Jimmy Fund, on behalf of his fellow Boston Herald truck drivers.

To my Grandpa Bob Tubin, every Red Sox player who wasn’t Ted Williams or Yaz was an overpaid bum or “primadonna,” but the TV was always on Channel 38.

I used to fall asleep on his couch and get woken up when Butch Hobson or George Scott would go deep.

Awesome that he got to see the 2004 Sox win the World Series before he died. Here he is with 1967 second baseman Mike Andrews, making a donation to The Jimmy Fund from his fellow Boston Herald drivers.

Andrews went on to become president of The Jimmy Fund and my grandfather went on to turn his grandson into a baseball fan. He would have LOVED the World Series victory last night!

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Visit the World’s Only Baseball Museum With a Petting Zoo

The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, located at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, hosts a Cooperstown-quality collection of baseball history.

The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, located at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, hosts a Cooperstown-quality collection of baseball history.

Ballparks are the ideal home for baseball museums and I wish Fenway Park had more than just a few token display cases in between concession stands.  Florida’s Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame is surprisingly spacious, easily the size and depth of a “regular” museum in its own building.

Find out why the museum lost its original home and why it might be the only baseball shrine in America with its own petting zoo … all in my latest story for The Travel Channel.

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My Day With Squiggy — Yes, That Squiggy!

Actor David Lander as Squiggy

Actor David Lander as Squiggy

CULTURE SCHLOCK — By Darren Garnick
“Squiggy’s Secret: Even Pop Culture Icons Can Get MS”
Originally published in The Telegraph
May 18, 2001

One of the Golden Rules of Journalism is “Thou Shalt Not Ask an Interview Subject For an Autograph.” The rationale makes sense. Reporters who giddily ask for autographs are unlikely to ask tough questions.  Editors also  resent the idea of their publications being confused with fan club magazines.  Lacking self-control, I broke that sacred rule last week.  I broke it for “Squiggy.”

David L. Lander, who played the quirky character in the 1970s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” was in town to discuss his 17-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis and why he hid his condition from the public until 1999. I was working behind the scenes for a TV network doing the typical “Celebrity Disease of the Week” feature. President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) on “The West Wing” revealed he had the same illness this month, giving MS enough temporary status to merit media coverage.

Our day began at Squiggy’s hotel and wrapped up at Fenway Park, where we shot footage of him watching the Red Sox and Mariners during batting practice. Lander’s publicist shared Squiggy stories to kill some time. Earlier that morning, at the Philadelphia airport, a fan rushed up to him with a baseball and blurted, “David Lander?  I have autographs of every ‘Laverne & Shirley’ cast member except for you!”  Lander signed the ball, not bothering to ask why the fan happened to have a baseball at the airport. The publicist suspected there might be a Squiggy stalker on the loose.

At the end of our assignment, we were in the Red Sox press box with Lander as he filled out his scorecard. I pulled a baseball out of my pocket and said in an ultra-serious tone, “David, at home I have autographed baseballs of every cast member of ‘Laverne and Shirley’ except for you. Would you please sign my baseball?”

He nodded without hesitation, but neither he nor his publicist picked up on the joke. “I was kidding,” I said. “I was referring to the psycho you met today at the airport… But I still would like to get it signed.” Lander smiled, thinking it was a strange coincidence, but was too polite to compare me to his stalker.

The conversational banter continued to flow naturally until I said I wanted the autograph because I was a “big pop culture buff.”

“Oh, is that what I am?” Lander replied.

Following an awkward moment of silence, I felt instant guilt. From Squiggy’s perspective, I had just reduced him to Archie Bunker’s chair or Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I may as well have built a glass display case around him.  But it was true: I would have been far less gung-ho about meeting a non-celebrity struggling with MS.

The whole time I was with Lander, most of our small talk was about baseball. He seemed ecstatic that I not only had heard of the Portland Beavers (the AAA minor league Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate), but mentioned Luis Tiant’s comeback there. Turns out that Lander had paid some of Tiant’s salary when the team couldn’t afford it, making him a five-percent owner. It was genuine sports talk, but for me it was sports talk with Squiggy.

Squiggy loves the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Squiggy loves the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I wasn’t the only one.  At the ballgame, a few fans recognized Lander and asked him to sign their Red Sox programs, insisting that “Squiggy” be written in addition to “David.” Perhaps unaware that “Laverne & Shirley” was scripted, one guy said, “You always seemed to enter at the right time!”

Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy were the forefathers of characters like Kramer on “Seinfeld.” The socially awkward best friends would enter a room unannounced whenever Laverne and Shirley would daydream about their missing Romeos.  Squiggy had the honor of triggering the laugh track. “Hello!” he’d say in a nerdy voice, which is simply not as funny on paper.

What happened to Lenny after that show is well known. Part of the Rob Reiner-Christopher Guest-Harry Shearer collaborative team, he’s been churning out clever comedies (“This is Spinal Tap,” “Best In Show.”) ever since. What happened to Squiggy is outlined in “Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody,” his autobiography released last fall.

MS first strikes people in their 20s and 30s and gets progressively worse with age. It is a particularly scary disease because it causes muscle weakness and extreme fatigue without warning.  Some people first lose strength in an arm or leg; others later feel numb in all four extremities.  MS wreaks havoc with the central nervous system, stripping people of their balance and eventually, their freedom to walk.

For 15 years, Lander let people think he was an alcoholic every time he stumbled at an inopportune moment. That image was more preferable than being known as a victim of MS, a stigma he feared would make him unemployable in Hollywood.

Watching Lander limp around the batting cage at Fenway Park, his balance preserved for now with the help of MS drugs, made me a little less cynical about “Celebrity Disease of the Week” stories.  Squiggy was still smiling.

In Lander’s eyes, I saw him as a walking, talking 1970s relic to be auctioned on eBay. Sure, I devoted more brain time to Laverne & Shirley in a few hours than I had in my entire life. But I also spent much of the day thinking about Multiple Sclerosis. For that alone, Lander’s post-Squiggy role is a huge success.

**

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Filed under Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports, Squiggy

Who Sucks Now? An Inside Peek at the Red Sox-Yankees T-Shirt Wars

CLASSY AND CONFIDENT: Yankees Captain Derek Jeter humors Red Sox fans at Fenway Park. (Photo courtesy of Sully’s Brand)

I grew up with a homemade “Official Yankees Hater” poster in my childhood bedroom.

But I never understood Red Sox fans who hate Derek Jeter, who probably has taken the brunt of the mockery on Boston’s raunchy souvenir t-shirts over the years.

Turns out that these kind of crass souvenirs don’t sell well in Boston anymore, but they are selling like hotcakes in the Bronx.

I explore the fascinating reasons why in The Atlantic:

Bronx t-shirt vendor “Bald” Vinny Milano shows off his wares after a Yankees-A’s game. (Double click to read the story)

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Filed under Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports Psychology, Yankee Stadium

When the Red Sox took bribes…

Abraham "Bob" Tubin discreetly hands over the cash to Red Sox star Mike Andrews.

Speaking of Red Sox Opening Day, I coincidentally just stumbled across a copy of one of my favorite family photos of all time — my Grandpa Bob with 1967 “Impossible Dream” second baseman Mike Andrews.

The picture looks like he’s handing over some money to treat Andrews to a few Fenway Franks. The stack of Fives and Ones — even in 1969 or 1970 when this was taken — hardly made my grandfather come across like Donald Trump or Daddy Warbucks. He was a delivery driver for the Boston Herald and drove a cab on his day off to raise money for The Jimmy Fund, the official Red Sox charity for cancer research.

Mike Andrews later became the chairman of The Jimmy Fund.

But as nice as all that philanthropy stuff is, the real reason I love this photo is because Grandpa Bob is solely responsible for brainwashing me to be a Red Sox fan. I still can picture myself as a 9-year-old dozing off on his living room couch as Butch Hobson or George “Boomer” Scott went deep.

In later years, he became disgusted by player salaries and called them all “primadonnas.” But he still watched.

You can read more about my amazing Grandpa Bob here.

And if you’d like to send your own bundle of cash to The Jimmy Fund, it would be most appreciated!

If this photo were taken today, my grandfather would have been posing with Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.

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Filed under Favorite Family Photos, Red Sox

Opening Day Hooky

Instead of taking a vacation day or personal day, Fred Flintstone sneaked out of work incognito to go to a baseball game. Dishonesty is never a smart career move.

Sneaking out of work to go to the ballpark is a time-honored tradition that dates back to at least 1962, when “The Flintstones” first chronicled the practice. Fred plays hooky from his job at the quarry to go to the baseball game with Barney. To get in free on “Ladies’ Day,” he disguises himself in one of Wilma’s old dresses.

Much to Fred’s embarrassment, he runs into his boss, Mr. Slate, who is entertaining a client at the game. Spoiler alert: Fred miraculously gets away with the charade.

Not many fans go to such extremes. But at today’s Fenway Park home opener, there are bound to be a few who are watching the Sox-Yanks battle on company time. If you’re planning to be one of them, you need to take precautions.

Although I NEVER advocate lying to the boss for any reason, I’d hate to see a career senselessly ruined over a Sox addiction. In today’s Boston Herald, I share some exclusive tips to avoid being caught at the game.

As an aside, revisiting this Flintstones episode reminded me of my old age. I remember sitting in the Fenway bleachers when they were backless benches instead of seats. And things would get a little too cozy with the other fans, especially the tipsy ones who couldn’t hold on to their beer trays.

Fredericka Flintstone demonstrates the flaws of the old Fenway Park bleachers.

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Filed under Boston Herald Columns, Flintstones

Lady Gaga: “Classless Songbird?”

Going Gaga Over Baseball: The Fast Track to Getting Autographs? (Source: NY Daily News)

EXCLUSIVE: Get a sneak peek of what Lady Gaga will look like 50 years from now!

(For the record, Red Sox-crazy celebs like Jennifer Garner show up to Fenway Park in much classier outfits!)

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Filed under Fashion, Sports, Sports Psychology