Category Archives: Sports

Fan Mail Can Go Both Ways – A Note From My “Pen Pal” Dan Quisenberry

I was a Red Sox fan growing up, but how could I NOT love Dan Quisenberry, the guy who led the league in saves throwing underhand!

I was a Red Sox fan growing up, but how could I NOT love Kansas City Royals closer Dan Quisenberry, the guy who led the league in saves throwing underhand!

Handwritten letters are endangered species.

About the only places they live on are birthday cards, thank you notes and summer camp letters, which kids are forced to write because nostalgia keeps their parents signing those checkbooks (another endangered medium).

On the occasion of one of my favorite childhood baseball players, Dan Quisenberry, missing out on the Baseball Hall of Fame, I just wrote a column for The Atlantic reminiscing about the thrill of receiving a two-page letter from him in 1981. (“How Athletes Ensure Immortality: Not all greats make the Hall of Fame. Not all Hall of Famers are remembered. But a player who forges personal connections with fans with live on.”)

You can read the story here, but I’d also like to share the full text of the letter for the benefit of the world’s Kansas City Royals fans — or anyone who still cherishes the power of handwritten letters.

The idea of a professional athlete, let alone the American League’s best closer, taking the time to write a two-page letter to a kid he thought was “creative,” is unfathomable to me as a jaded adult. Sadly, Quisenberry died of brain cancer at age 45 — younger than the age that many of the kids watching him pitch would be now.

Here’s Dan’s letter for you to read for yourself:

Dan Quisenberry Letter - Page 1 of 2 (Double click to enlarge)

Dan Quisenberry Letter – Page 1 of 2 (Double click to enlarge)

** Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Dan Quisenberry, Sports, Sports Psychology, Submarine Pitchers

The Ugly Truth: Why I Really Won the T-Bones Restaurant Mascot Race

Dramatic action scene of the most critical turning point in the Steak vs. Cactus Restaurant Mascot Race. (Photo courtesy of New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

Dramatic action scene of the most critical moment in the T-BONES Steak vs. Cactus Jack’s Restaurant Mascot Race. (Photo courtesy of New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

So perhaps you’ve heard of the 1919 Black Sox scandal?  Pete Rose betting on baseball? Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa using steroids?

Hold on to your seat cushion, because I am about to reveal the most outrageous sports scandal in the history of outrageous sports scandals.

But you’ll have to read all about it in New Hampshire Magazine!

Leave a comment

Filed under New Hampshire Magazine, Sports

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Red Sox

David Ortiz Ate Here: Confessions of a Grown-Up Red Sox Fanboy

Read "I Am a Red Sox Fanboy," my opinion column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia's beard.

Read “I Am a Red Sox Fanboy,” my column for CNN.com, by double clicking Dustin Pedroia’s beard.

Journalism has brought me close up with political leaders, CEOs, inventors, scientists, actors, musicians and even Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley” fame.

But only baseball players can make me feel 12 years old again.

Timed for the World Series, I wrote a fun column for CNN.com about the thrill of spotting Red Sox players out of uniform — without the help of baseball cards.

Here’s a sneak peek:

“Is baseball hothead David Price right? Are the millions of us who never pitched beyond Little League just a bunch of starstruck wannabes?

During the American League Divisional Series, the Tampa Bay Rays star lashed out at the media after giving up seven earned runs in seven innings. “Nice questions, nerds!” he hissed at reporters. Then Price got mean. On Twitter, he called Sports Illustrated scribe Tom Verducci a nerd who wasn’t even a water boy in high school.” He stopped there, passing up the temptation to mock Verducci’s prom date or how much he can bench press.

Price’s snotty attitude exists for one reason. Many of my fellow baseball nuts DO think players are cooler than the rest of us. The fact is, no matter how successful we may be in our professional lives, many of us would instantly trade in our careers for a (your team here) uniform.”

Oddly, a tongue-in-cheek column like this has attracted some angry comments directed at Boston and Bostonians. I know writers are advised to NEVER read the anonymous comments beneath their stories, but I always touch the Third Rail.

Check out my column, “I am a Red Sox Fanboy,” and please share it with fellow baseball fans. Even though it’s focused on the Sox, you really could fill in the blanks with players from your favorite team — or characters from any celebrity watching endeavor for that matter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Celebrity Watching, CNN Columns, Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock, Sports

Undeniable Evidence of My Undeniable Role in the 2013 Red Sox Turnaround

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State -- and their state of mind after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

April’s NH Magazine explored the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State — and their uncrushable faith after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Double click to read the story)

Why yes, I am taking credit for the success of the 2013 Red Sox. Back in April, my New Hampshire Magazine story foreshadowed the Redemption, the Faith and the Realignment of the Baseball Universe.

Be sure to read the story as part of your pre-World Series rituals!

Leave a comment

Filed under New Hampshire Magazine, Red Sox, Sports

What I was doing when the other kids played with Star Wars figures*

Carney Lansford: The Batting Champion Who Needed Glasses

Lansford: The Batting Champ Who Needed Glasses

File This Under “Stories That Make Me Sound Like My Grandfather.”

I used to spend a TON of time clipping box scores and newspaper articles about Red Sox games and glue them in a thick homemade construction paper scrapbook. It looked like an overstuffed wallet exploding with receipts and bank statements.

A significant portion of that scrapbook was devoted to new Sox third baseman Carney Lansford, who replaced my beloved Butch Hobson in 1981, but quickly won me over.  Beyond his clutch hitting, I think I identified with him because he wore big clunky glasses like me. I was not thrilled with the idea of having to wear them.

I remember reading a column about Lansford’s vision and how his hitting dramatically improved after he could actually see the ball.  But for some reason, this gem wasn’t glued down for posterity.

So I tried tracking the down the story from the source: Lowell Sun sportswriter Chaz Scoggins. I naturally assumed that all writers kept a personal archive of everything they wrote — and that they had meticulous filing systems.

In my childhood view, Scoggins had the best job in the world. Talking to Carney Lansford and getting paid for it. But he wasn’t in love with his own byline. At the end of the day, he threw his newspaper stories out.

I recently stumbled across a letter from Mr. Scoggins, expressing regret he could not help fill the gaping hole in my scrapbook. “Unfortunately,” he wrote. “like you I don’t save newspapers.”

The Sun didn’t index their stories in the pre-Internet era. He suggested I visit their offices and skim through the microfilm, even giving me the name of their librarian.

Here’s the letter from Chaz Scoggins in its entirety. So impressed that he took the time to type out such a detailed letter to a kid.

How We Looked Up Newspaper Articles Before The Internet (Double click to enlarge)

How We Looked Up Newspaper Articles Before The Internet (Double click to enlarge)

Scoggins, a highly respected sportswriter, went on to become the official scorer of the Boston Red Sox.

(*As an aside, I played with Star Wars figures, too!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Red Sox, Sports

Opening Day Meditation: How I Learned to Stop Hating the New York Yankees

(click to enlarge image)

New Hampshire Magazine’s Photoshop guy is phenomenal. Yes, I did go to Yankee Stadium for this story, but the yoga happened at their Manchester newsroom. That’s a Kevin Youkilis jersey in case you were curious. (Double click to read story)

It’s Opening Day: Yankees vs. Red Sox — and let the gloating begin!

Based on the injuries the Yanks are battling with A-Rod, Jeter and Texiera, there’s a fair chance that Boston and New York will be fighting each other to stay out of last place this year.

Sure, celebrating would be premature at this point, but fans in Baltimore, Toronto and Tampa Bay have to like their chances in the AL East where the Sox and Yanks used to trade off the division title and the Wild Card every season.

Before the Sox took their depressing nose dive, I surprised my son with a Yankee Stadium trip to see the home team when Sox-Yanks tickets at Fenway were simply unaffordable. To my surprise, I liked many of the people sitting around me despite my lifetime of regarding Yankees fans as arrogant, obnoxious punks. You can read my humble attempt at a Nobel Peace Price nomination in the April issue of New Hampshire Magazine, on newsstands now.

contributors New Hampshire Magazine Darren Garnick
I love this cover, especially since New Hampshire was recently ranked as the Least Religious State in America by the Pew Research Center. The Red Sox is a more popular religion around here than Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism combined.

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of Red Sox fans in the Granite State -- and their state of mind after one of the worst seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

My first cover story for New Hampshire Magazine explores the die-hard subculture of NH Red Sox fans — and their fragile psychology after one of the most disappointing seasons in Sox history. (Cover design by J Porter)

We left no New Hampshire baseball angle unexplored, even tracking down Carlton Fisk’s 1963 high school yearbook. He’s the guy holding the trophy on the far right.

What if Carlton Fisk had decided to pursue pro basketball instead of pro baseball?

What if Carlton Fisk had decided to pursue pro basketball instead of pro baseball?

You can read the full story here.

Leave a comment

Filed under New Hampshire Magazine, Red Sox, Red Sox Schlock