In the bar car of a Connecticut-bound New Haven Railroad train following a Yankee-Red Sox contest in the Bronx, Jim Powers breaks into song: ''Who's better than his brother Joe? Dominic DiMaggio...'', thereby attracting the attention of a like-minded Sox fan, author and ad executive Henry Berry. The two become fast friends and fellow pillars of the BLOHARDS. Red Sox miraculously win the pennant on the season’s final day.
First Opening Day bus trip to the Fens for the BLOHARDS. Sox lose by a score of 9-2 to old friend Earl Wilson and the Tigers. Game time temperature in the infield grandstand is a balmy 60 degrees. Price of a cocktail at the Howard Johnson’s located at 1271 Boylston Street – $1.25.
BLOHARDS gatherings now held up to three times yearly at Manhattan's Danny's Hideaway on East 45th Street, a super-chic steakhouse/nightclub.
Fenway Park holds its first professional wrestling match since the 1930s as Bruno Sammartino takes on Killer Kowalski.
Home opener marred by rainout. Assemblage retires to Jacob Wirth restaurant on Stuart Street for food and beverage. Two revelers fail to return home on bus, earning trip coordinator Henry Berry the slings and arrows of both those left behind and their spouses. Henry is subsequently meticulous about taking attendance prior to departure from Boston.
Luncheon gatherings moved to the New England Room of the Lexington Hotel, located on East 48th Street and Third Avenue.
Following a missed bunt by Stick Michael, Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk fight each other at home plate in a 3-2 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.
BLOHARDS luncheons (and the Butch Hobson happy hour fiasco) were held at the posh McGraw-Hill Executive Dining Room, thanks to Henry Berry who was an executive for the company.
In his final season as the Red Sox’ radio announcer, Jon Miller addresses a happy horde of BLOHARDS. Tells of killing time during a recent O’s rain delay by pretending to switch to a Dodgers game “in-progress,” then imitating Vin Scully doing play-by-play for a half-hour. Miller then imagined a breakfast meeting between Yankees’ once-and-always PA announcer Bob Sheppard, and his longtime Boston counterpart, Sherman “Sherm” Feller. Shepard (portentiously): I'll take the numbah two - over easy. Numbah two. Feller: Give me four Bloody Marys. Wrapping up a busy weekend, Miller handles the PA duties (in Sheppard’s voice) for the season’s final game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, October 3.
Suzyn Waldman (yes, that Suzyn Waldman) sings the national anthem before Oil Can Boyd beats the Yankees, 9-2. In 1985 Suzyn was a dues-paying member of the BLOHARDS and her dog was named Fenway.
The second luncheon of the year is the setting for an early sabermetrics lesson and prolonged Socratic dialog during which BLOHARD-For-Life Joe Cosgriff prevails on Sox skipper John McNamara to bat Boggs before, not after Evans in the order. McNamara: Evans hits a lot of doubles, and then Boggs can move him over by hitting a grounder to the right side. Cosgriff: But Boggs has a .450 on-base percentage. How about Evans hitting the double after Boggs gets on base – which he seems to be doing almost half the time?
A month and a half after his 20 K’s (and no walks) against the Mariners, Roger Clemens speaks to an SRO luncheon crowd of 300 at the McGraw Hill Dining Room. That night Clemens (12-0) beats the Yankees, 10-1, as the Sox improve to 41-21. Sox reliever and Clemens’ University of Texas teammate Calvin Schiraldi is the surprise second guest. Each brings a significant entourage, helping to set a BLOHARDS’ record for luncheon comps that stands to this day.
Marty Barrett regales the BLOHARDS with the story of pulling the hidden-ball trick on Bobby Grich on July 7, 1985. The Angels’ second baseball then calmly told Barrett, then in his second full season with the Sox, that he would rip his eyes out were he to ever think of trying the play on him again. Grich is ribbed incessantly by teammate Doug DeCinces – until Barrett pulls the hidden ball trick on DeCinces two weeks later at Fenway Park. Shortstop Spike Owen accompanies Barrett to the luncheon.
Long-time BLOHARDS’ treasurer Walter Teitz, famous for his lively and informative Treasurer's reports, dies in his basement – stamp collection in his lap – while watching the Sox blow a 5-0 lead to the Tigers.
Jeff Reardon is the scheduled BLOHARDS’ luncheon guest, the day after giving up a two-out three-run HR to Mel Hall on Memorial Day that beats the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, 6-5. The Sox had blown an early 5-0 lead. “I didn’t have a good feeling from the fifth inning on,” said Boston manager Joe Morgan. Reardon, meanwhile, cannot be nicer. Says that he was on an elevator car filled with BLOHARDS, and there was silence about halfway to the 50th floor until someone chimed in with – “Man, he hit that ball. I’m glad no one got hurt.” At that point, he said, everyone roared with laughter, and he knew he had come to the right place.
At a rare late-day gathering on the eve of the season’s opener, newly-minted Sox manager Butch Hobson challenges BLOHARDS’ club historian, Henry Berry, to a fistfight. Berry's crime(s)? Some say it was Henry’s tweaking of the newly-returning Don Zimmer during his slapstick slideshow. Others say he produced a gentle-but-audible Bronx cheer as Hobson was introducing his longtime mentor. Some say it was both. Fun fact: Hobson’s 1978 fielding percentage of .899 was the first time a regular player had dipped below .900 in sixty years.
Dan Duquette, newly appointed as Red Sox general manager, lunches with the BLOHARDS. Scouting report on his personality notwithstanding, Mr. Duquette is gracious, relaxed, and funny. The Red Sox subsequently win the AL East in his second year on the job.
Henry Berry, a World War II marine, author of more than twenty books, and the BLOHARDS’ club historian and co-founder, dies at the age of 70.
Under the leadership of Dick Strobridge, the BLOHARDS enjoy dinner and a game at Shea Stadium as the Sox play the Mets for the first time since October 27, 1986. Down 2-0 early and subjected to endless replays of Buckner's gaffe of a decade earlier, Sox (and the BLOHARDS) gain a small measure of redemption by winning 8-4. Sox somehow win a game in which they used both Jeff Suppan and John Wasdin.
Continuing a streak which began with Dick Williams and is interrupted only by Kevin Kennedy, manager Jimy Williams addresses a BLOHARDS’ luncheon. Immensely likeable but evasive, Williams succeeds in sidestepping every question during a forty-five minute Q&A. His performance is favorably compared with that of Casey Stengel’s congressional testimony of July 1958.
After a dispute with club executives, BLOHARDS’ Treasurer Tom Maloof absconds with the club’s relevant membership and financial records. Honor system invoked for lifetime memberships, resulting in several hundred claims.
Jerry Trupiano, who shared the radio duties with Joe Castiglione from 1993-2006, makes his 252nd career joke about the freezing temperatures at the Park Avenue Armory. On this occasion, he asks the club’s president, “Jim, what do they use this room for when we’re not here? Hanging meat?” At an earlier luncheon he had made a joke about chipping his front tooth on the soup.
Thirty or so BLOHARDS make the trip to Shea Stadium for an interleague game with the Mets. Not much of a game, although Manny hits a HR to right. More noteworthy is the lineup of Sox pitchers who hold the Mets to one run (in a 3-1 win) – David Cone into the 6th, then El Guapo, Rod Beck, and a shaky 9th for Derek Lowe for the save.
Another Sox home opener is rained out. Game is officially called after arrival in Boston of BLOHARDS’ bus. Cost of a cocktail at the Howard Johnson’s on Boylston Street – $4.50. Makeup game vs. Baltimore isn’t played until August. BLOHARD attendance is spotty.
A week after he is acquired on waivers from the Astros, Bruce Chen is our luncheon guest at the still-chilly Park Avenue Armory. Trupiano conducts a terrific interview – Chen is Panamanian of Chinese descent, he studies in the off-seasons at Georgia Tech. Not yet twenty-six, he was already playing for his seventh team. Upon taking back the mic, Jim Powers stares at Sox PR head Dick Bresciani, shakes his head, and says, “Jeez, Dick. You didn’t exactly bring us Mel Parnell.” Funny line, but one which requires prolonged diplomacy to mend fences with the Red Sox delegation in attendance.
Longtime Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione conducts highly-informative and entertaining interview sessions. Noted film critic and author Jeffrey Lyons, radio personality Ed Randall, and Sox VP for Baseball Operations Mike Port also speak. Port subsequently wins the coveted Roland Hemond Meritorious Service Award.
The June luncheon features Sox' entire roster of executive vice presidents, while in September we host the entire coaching staff. Special guest in September is Babe Ruth, fresh from his grave and eager to break the famous curse (in the person of overnight radio host Joey Reynolds).
Estimated crowd of over 250 BLOHARDS gather at the Yale Club to celebrate as the Red Sox bring the World Series Trophy to New York City. Yale Club head count exceeds paid attendance by over 100, leading to weeks of intense negotiations. Raucous event is covered by print and broadcast media.
BLOHARDS Co-founder and President James Beston Powers dies at age 77. The Uxbridge native had been the heart, soul, and voice of the club for nearly forty years. He is eulogized as a larger-than-life presence whose straw hat repelled hundreds batteries over the years at Yankee Stadium. His family is comforted that he lived to witness the championship season of 2004.
Club opts to retain Jim Powers (RIP) as its once-and-always president, decides on bullpen-by-committee management group. Powers’ daughters, Julie Killian and Sarah Powers, are among the six members of the new team.
Executive VP of Transportation Ray Duffy reintroduces the slideshow at BLOHARDS’ luncheons, honors the original narrator/producer and longtime Steinbrenner critic by naming the segment after Henry Berry.
Inspired by Robert Goulet’s thrilling rendition of “The Impossible Dream” to mark the 40th anniversary of the ’67 team, the Sox rip the Mariners, 14-3. Temps drop into the 30s during the game, but the 7-0 lead after two innings, Beckett’s pitch-count efficiency – and the clam chowder vendor – provide warmth to Section 5.
BLOHARDS gather for each postseason game in their private luxury suite at Professor Thom’s on Second Avenue. Nacho-centric menu takes its toll over four weeks, cardiologists on-call and an ambulance stationed outside. Red Sox outscore the Rockies 29-10 in a four-game sweep of the World Series.
It’s New York Day (and very warm) at Fenway Park, it’s Carl Yastrzemski’s 70th birthday, BLOHARDS’ official crooner John Pizzarelli sings the national anthem at Fenway, and two buses take 100 of us from Professor Thom’s. Wearing a Yaz jersey, Pizz handles the anthem flawlessly, and the Sox easily handle the Yankees, 14-1. A bonus is that on a day when Jerry Casale and his family are on the trip, “Jerry Casale” is the answer to the day’s trivia question on the big scoreboard. (Name the former Red Sox pitcher who gave up Carl Yastrzemski’s first lifetime HR.)
Several BLOHARDS attend Red Sox-Royals game at Fenway Park. Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Sox. According to Varitek, Dice-K “doesn’t have command of his fastball.” Doesn’t stop him from throwing 235 of them in running up 58 full-counts in a little over four innings. Game remains in progress.
Sox outfielder and luncheon guest Darnell McDonald immediately recognizes an old nemesis when he arrives in the Yale Club’s Grand Ballroom – a seven-foot projected image of racehorse Zippy Chippy. McDonald had raced and lost to the gelding ten years earlier at Frontier Field while a member of the Rochester Red Wings. Zippy makes horseracing lore by finishing his career with a record of 0-100.
Scheduled luncheon guest Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino agrees that everything is fair game for the Q&A period. Lucchino sends his regrets at 11 a.m. due to organization meetings having to do with "what you're probably reading about in the papers." Papers are indeed rife with speculation that first-year manager Bobby Valentine, on his way to a 69-93 record, will be fired immediately following the final out of the next day's game. Bobby V. hangs on through the night, however, and is relieved of his responsibilities on Thursday morning, October 4.
Luncheon guest scheduled to be Sox pitcher Alex Wilson. But he is sent to Triple-A Pawtucket an hour before the salad course at the Yale Club. Refuses BLOHARDS’ offer of “to-go” bag for the train ride. Duffy’s slideshow continues to single out CC Sabathia – says the Yankees’ hurler visited the Tommy Hilfiger tent during Fashion Week and asked to try it on.
Sox defeat the Cardinals in six games to win improbable World Series in John Farrell’s first season as manager. Fifty-seven BLOHARDS gather at Duke’s to root the boys home. Caught up in the moment, Duke’s sends out for Champagne. The evening goes late.
The Red Sox bring the World Series Trophy to the BLOHARDS at a sold-out reception for 210 ecstatic BLOHARDS. John Pizzarelli leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” and Dick Flavin brings down the house with championship-themed poetry. While drinks flow freely, promised hors d’oeuvres trickle out of kitchen. BLOHARDS spring for a professional photographer. By popular demand, photo page remains active through May 2015.
Ben Bradlee, Jr. is special luncheon guest, answers questions about his bestselling book, The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams. Highly entertaining.
Luncheon guests are Ian Browne and Dr. Charles Steinberg. Both try to invoke 2013 as often as possible to the sparse and skeptical gathering. “Who thought this team could score enough runs to win?” is a question that comes up several times during Q&A.
Longtime Sox PR executive and club historian Dick Bresicani dies at the age of 76. He had been the face of the Red Sox at our luncheons and supported the BLOHARDS unconditionally for almost thirty years. His presentations at our two annual luncheons, particularly at the tail end of lean seasons, somehow found a way to provide a solid foundation for winter optimism.
Dr. Charles brings along a preview copy of James Taylor’s new song, “Angels of Fenway,” which we figure out how to play through the Yale Club’s union-regulated sound system. The BLOHARDS introduce new historian, David Margolick, who compellingly interviews writer Gerald Eskenazi about his experience of co-writing Yaz’s autobiography. And Pizzarelli sings “Panda Baby” (to the tune of “Santa Baby”) about the ever-expanding but underperforming enigma that is Pablo Sandoval. Panda Baby, we need you hitting .363. You see…. And I don't mean on the scale, Panda Baby, So how about a salad tonight?
Following through on an idea hatched back in March, the BLOHARDS assemble to watch the Sox take on the Mets at Citi Field. The Sox come in at 58-69, and with Henry Owens on the hill, expectations are tempered. But the Sox patiently wait until Matt Harvey is removed from the game to put up a three-spot, then three more in the 10th inning. Sloppy game but a perfectly delightful late-summer evening in Queens as 312 of us gather in Section 134.
Chris Davis hits a ninth-inning three-run HR off Kimbrel that lands on Runway 22L at Logan Airport. Orioles beat the Sox, 9-7. Game time temperature is 57 degrees, although somewhat colder in the shade of the Section 5 grandstand.
Dick Flavin and Ed Randall entertain at the Wednesday luncheon. When introducing Ed Randall, emcee Cosgriff offers “Radio and television, on and off” to sum up Ed’s long broadcasting career. When asked by an audience member which of the two he prefers, Cosgriff’s answer is “Off.” On September 29, over 150 BLOHARDS make the trip to Yankee Stadium for Big Papi’s final game in the Bronx. (No 2016 postseason for the Yankees.) With no Yankee fans in our section, it becomes a fun night at the ballpark – despite Papi being pulled in the 4th inning.
Surprise luncheon guest is the previous night’s home plate umpire, Tom Hallion, he of the distinctive and demonstrative punch-out call on strike three. In addition to providing incredible insights into the game, he happily provided a physical and vocal sampling of his strike-three call. Called up for a second Q&A session with ten minutes to go in the lunch, Hallion joins the pantheon of the most entertaining guests in the club’s fifty-year history.
Stealth bombers, the Boston Pops, the huge 2017 banner, Bobby Orr, Bill Russell, and Paul Revere himself all are part of the pregame festivities. Game time temperature generously announced at 40 degrees, with 18 mph winds toward rightfield (right at us). Interminable replay delay extends the game, which Sox win, 3-2 in the 12th inning. Sox improve to 6-1 on the way to 17-2. (See June 10.)
Due to extra innings and Boston area rush-hour traffic, digital time clocks automatically enforce mandatory work and rest rules for bus drivers. Replacement drivers are summoned. “Does anyone know the way to New York City,” asks one. A long day becomes the better part of a week. More here.
Massachusetts native and longtime reliever Skip Lockwood addresses the club to promote his new book, Insight Pitch. Shares particularly funny stories about his single seasons with Seattle Pilots and the Sox. Based on his luncheon patter, he is asked to be on the MLB channel on Sirius XM and WFAN (twice).
Feeling returns to toes from Opening Day.
BLOHARDS execs negotiate with the Yankees for 100 seats to the September 18 Sox-Yanks and Game 4 of ALDS, should it be Sox-Yanks. It is. Game nearly goes epically wrong at the end but somehow doesn’t. Being surrounded by 50,000 cursing, second-guessing, beer-throwing Yankee fans a far better outcome than the alternative.
Led by World Series MVP Steve Pearce and Game 3 losing (yes, losing) pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, the Red Sox take out the Dodgers in five games. It is the fourth World Series title for the Red Sox in fourteen years after going eighty-six years and four World Series without one.