Saturday, April 26, 2014

Card #25: Jerry Remy

Who Can It Be Now?
Gerald Peter Remy was born in November of 1952 in Fall River, Massachusetts, and he grew up in the Boston area.  He attended Somerset High School in Somerset, Massachusetts, and he was drafted out of high school by the Washington Senators in the 1970 June draft.  He did not sign with the Senators and matriculated at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Perhaps college life did not suit Remy, because he signed with the California Angels in 1971 after being drafted by them in the January 1971 Secondary draft in the 8th round.

Remy moved reasonably quickly through the Angels system, punctuated by splitting his age 21 season of 1974 between Double-A El Paso for 2/3 of the year and Triple-A Salt Lake City for the remaining third.  He hit the ball well -- though not with any home run power -- at every stop.  

His career minor league totals show a slap hitter with good bat skills and improving bat control -- a slash line of .307/.359/.409, 144 walks and 276 strikeouts (but with 100 of those coming in one year in the California League at age 19) in 1878 plate appearances.  Remy also showed decent speed but less-than-stellar base-running instincts: 95 Stolen Bases versus 43 times caught stealing.  

Unsurprisingly, this is exactly the player that Remy was when he reached the major leagues with the Angels in 1975.  He got on base at a decent clip, had a slugging percentage that hovered right around the same level as his OBP, and he got caught stealing more times than he should have for as often as he was running.  For example, in his rookie year of 1975, Remy hit .258, had an OBP and a SLG of .311 each, stole 34 bases, but got caught stealing a league leading 21 times.

Remy enjoyed the early success with the Angels, but the Angels needed pitching if they were to contend with the Royals in the late 1970s American League West.  For its part, the Red Sox were looking to improve at second base and upgrade from the 33-year-old Denny Doyle. So, after the 1977 season, the Red Sox sent promising 22-year-old pitcher Don Aase to the Angels for 24-year-old Remy. 

Moving back home to Boston, Remy responded immediately with his one and only All-Star season in 1978.  The future looked bright for both Remy and the Red Sox -- despite the Bucky Dent game.  

Everything changed for Remy on July 1, 1979.  The second-place Red Sox faced their bitter rival Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  Remy hit a triple to lead off the game, and he tried to score when Rick Burleson hit a pop-up down the right-field line that Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph tracked down.  According to one article, Remy had no chance to score on the play, but he tried anyway and, on the slide into home, Remy tore up his knee badly.

Jim Rice came onto the field and carried Remy off:

Remy hardly played in 1979 after the injury, and he appeared in only 63 games in 1980.  He played two full seasons after the injury -- 1982 and 1983 (though playing 88 games in the strike-shortened 1981 season has to be considered as a full season too).  He had had three knee operations by the time 1984 rolled around, and could only make it through one month of the 1984 season before shutting it down.  In spring training in 1985, Remy visited the Red Sox' team physician, Dr. Arthur Pappas, and after that appointment, made the decision to retire at the age of 32.

This Is Radio Clash
The Clash is one of my favorite bands -- one I've liked since 1982 and Combat Rock.  The song "This Is Radio Clash" was released in late 1981 and made its impact on the rock music charts in 1982.  I am going to use it to highlight those players who have gone on to careers in broadcasting.

To most people, Jerry Remy is more known now for being the television analyst on Red Sox games on NESN.  He has worked in broadcasting since 1988 as the color commentator for Red Sox games.

Louisiana Cookin'
Remy is an entrepreneur who has made a good living since his baseball career ended by leveraging his Bostonian background, playing days, and on-air commentating into a number of different ventures.  He's written a bunch of Red Sox-related books (see below), for example.  In addition, he is the "President of Red Sox Nation" which, apparently, was based on some kind of voting among Red Sox fans.  

But, relevant to our culinary category, Remy owns several eateries in the Boston area.  He has a hot dog stand on Yawkey Way called "RemDawgs," he operates "Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill" at three locations, including at Fenway Park, in Fall River, and at Logan International Airport.  Perhaps oddly, there is a separate website for a fourth location at Boston Seaport.

The World According to Garp
Remy has authored a number of books related to baseball.  One series of books is for kids and follows the "journeys" of Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster.  Those titles are Wally the Green Monster and His Journey Through Red Sox Nation!, Hello Wally!, A Season with Wally the Green Monster, Coast to Coast with Wally the Green Monster, and Wally the Green Monster and His World Tour.  Ball Four it's not.

A second book, which Remy has updated four times as far as I can tell, was first published in 2004 and updated most recently in 2008.  It is titled Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game within the Game.

Remy's final book on Amazon is Red Sox Heroes: The RemDawg's All-Time Favorite Red Sox, Great Moments, and Top Teams.

I have not read these books, but feel free to chime in if you have.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
In the early 1980s, I didn't really care about Remy that much. Now, I disliked Rick "The Rooster" Burleson and had fear about what would happen next when guys like Jim Rice and Dwight Evans stepped to the plate.  But Remy was sort of innocuous to me as a fan because he was not a guy who was going to hit the ball out of the park and beat you.  That said, he really enjoyed playing against Milwaukee over his career -- a .300 batting average, 15 stolen bases (though he was caught 10 times), and a .340 OBP.  

Yet, those numbers are skewed by how he absolutely destroyed Milwaukee in his home parks.  In Milwaukee County Stadium, Remy hit just .264 with a .301 OBP.  His career numbers -- including his good batting average -- were helped substantially by his performances in Boston.  Fenway in the early 1980s was a much better hitters' park than a lot of the stadiums around the league, and Remy took full advantage.

There is one item that lingers today when talking about Jerry Remy, and that is his son Jared Remy.  In recent months, Jerry's role as the Red Sox color commentator has been called into question by the fact that Jared is accused of killing the mother of one his children, Jennifer Martel. The Boston Globe recently printed a stunning story portraying Jared Remy as a steroid-addled, serial domestic abuser whose father's money was able to buy the best lawyers to get Jared out of trouble on multiple occasions -- nearly 20, in fact.  As one paragraph stated:
JARED REMY WAS THE KING of second chances.  A review of hundreds of pages of court files and police records revealed accounts that he terrorized five different girlfriends starting when he was 17, and that courts repeatedly let him off with little more than probation and his promise to stay out of trouble.  He rarely did.
A second quote puts some of the blame on Jerry Remy -- at least indirectly -- for this series of lenient decisions happening: 
"This is an old story for the American judicial system.  You get a high-priced attorney, you get better justice," said [Joshua E.] Friedman, the former Lowell prosecutor.  "If he had been Jared Smith from a well-off family, he may have gotten the same result."
But he was not Jared Smith.  He was the son of the man recognized as the president of Red Sox Nation, Jerry Remy -- the home-grown infielder-turned-broadcaster and air-guitar-playing commercial pitchman, best-selling author, and restaurant impresario revered as "The RemDawg."
I do not place blame on Jerry Remy's door for what his son did or even for how courts treated his son.  Yes, you get a better lawyer and you get a better result.  It works that way in many types of cases -- both civil and criminal.  Sure, Jerry Remy and his wife should have done a better job of raising their son so as to keep him off steroids.  

And, I totally agree that the Remy family should have taught their son that treating other people -- not just women, but everyone -- with respect is a requirement to being a human being.  Finally, the Remy family failed to teach their son that violence is not the proper way to solve one's problems.

All that said, if Jared Remy did stab and kill Jennifer Martel -- I have not followed the story, know nothing about it other than what I've read for this write-up, and have no opinion on his guilt and innocence -- the one responsible for that is Jared Remy and the one who will be punished for it is Jared Remy.
Yet, if Jerry is any kind of parent, he must feel anguish over this incident for the rest of his life.

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