Monday, February 26, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #58 Jerry Remy

Jerry Remy, 2B, #2 (1978-1984)

710 G, 802 H, 385 R, 2 HR, 211 RBI, 98 SB, .286 Avg, .336 OBP, .334 SLG

"I love baseball and I will always love it. My favorite time begins when the umpire says "play ball" and ends with the final out." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball

Before Jerry Remy became the cult figure we all know as the Rem Dawg, he was known to Red Sox fans as a hard-nosed, gritty second baseman who loved playing the game of baseball on the stage he had fallen in love with the game as a youngster, Fenway Park.

"I remember the first time I walked up the ramp inside Fenway Park and stepped out into the grandstand. The first thing I saw was the wall, a huge green thing. And then there was the beautiful green grass and the colors of the players' uniforms. I was stunned. I guess I still am." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball

Born November 8th, 1952 in Fall River, MA, Gerald Peter Remy grew up in the heart of Red Sox Nation just outside of Boston in Weston, MA where a young Remy was introduced to the game of baseball by his father and grandfather.

"Baseball is a part of the fabric of our lives. It's a love that is handed down from father to son, mother to daughter. " - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball

It's a good thing for the rest of Red Sox Nation that young Gerald took to baseball with a passion that is still evident in every NESN broadcast we hear.

Jerry Remy's baseball career started as far away from Fenway Park as baseball in America can take you, California. After being drafted in the 19th round of the 1970 amateur draft by the Washington Senators only to not sign, Remy was again selected in the 8th round of the 1971 draft by the California Angels.

Remy's minor league career was brief but successful. Before making the jump from double-A to the Major Leagues in 1975, Remy won a batting title for El Paso in the Texas League in 1974 hitting .338 before being called up to triple-A Salt Lake City. In forty-eight games in Salt Lake, Remy hit .292 where a gentleman, unbeknown to Remy as an Angels' bench coach told him, "If you come to spring training and play like you have been this year, you've got a good chance of making the team." And after spending the offseason in Mexico Remy did just that hitting .313 in the spring of 1975 not only making the team, but taking the starting second base job from veteran Denny Doyle.

Remy played for three seasons in California where in his third season at the ripe age of 24 years old he was named the team captain by Angels manager Norm Sherry. Remy would play 444 games in California hitting .258 with five of his seven career home runs, an on base percentage (.315) only four points higher than his slugging percentage (.319) and 110 stolen bases ranking him 9th on the Angels all time list.

Jerry Remy's first major league hit came on 4/7/1975 against the Kansas City Royals. And if you've heard Remy tell the story during broadcasts over the years, you know how the story ends; so excited with his achievement, Remy was promptly picked off base. Remy's time in California led to the distinction of being named #75 on the 100 Greatest Angels list compiled this year by Halo's Heaven before be traded back home to the Red Sox for pitcher Don Aase and cash.

Ironically enough, Remy's time in Boston started the same way it did in California; by replacing incumbent second baseman Denny Doyle.

"When I was traded to Boston, I was going to my home team, the club I grew up watching when I was a kid in Somerset, MA. The idea of playing at Fenway Park with guys I admired made it a nice trade for me." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball

In 1978, his first season in front of his home town fans, Remy had the best of his career batting .278, scoring 87 runs and stealing 30 bases. His performance earned him a spot on the 1978 American League All-Star team.

1978 also saw Remy's final two career home runs. The last of his seven career home runs came on August 20th. 1978 in Oakland against the Athletics. With two strikes, both pitcher Matt Keough and Remy thought that Remy had swung and missed one of Keough's patented spitballs. The umpire however called it a foul tip. An angry Keough threw the next pitch inside and Remy turned on it for a 3-run home run, the last of his career.

The '78 season would go down in Red Sox lore ending in the infamous "Bucky Dent" one game playoff against the Yankees on October 2nd. Remy would call it "one of the greatest games in the history of baseball." He would go on to say that it was a "perfect game, except we lost." Remy would go 2-4 with a double and a run scored. Both of Remy's hits that day would come off of Yankee closer Rich "Goose" Gossage.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, just moments after the anguish of Bucky Dent's three run home run to put the Yankees ahead 5-2, Remy lead off with a double and scored. The Red Sox would add another run to cut the Yankee lead to 1 run heading into the ninth. With Rick Burleson on first and one out in the ninth, Remy hit a line drive towards Lou Piniella in right field who had trouble finding the ball in the sun. Only a lucky stab by Piniella held Remy to a single instead of a game tying extra base hit or even, according to Peter Gammons, an improbable game winning walk off inside the park home run. The Red Sox would leave both runners on and lose a heart-breaker to the Yankes. Remy would reflect on that moment as "close as he would get to being in the World Series."

Coming off that dramatic loss in 1978 and an All-Star appearance, 1979 brought disappointment for Jerry Remy by way of a knee injury sustained sliding into home in a game against the New York Yankees. Remy would be limited to 80 games in '79 and his nagging knee injury would limit him to shortened seasons in both 1980 and '81 as well.

Even with Jerry Remy's frustrating seasons, they weren't without highlights. In 1981, in a 19 inning game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, Remy would pick up an American League and Boston team record six singles going 6-10. This record would be tied by Nomar Garciaparra in 2003 with Remy calling the game on NESN.

In 1982, Remy finished in the top ten in the American League in at bats, hits, and sacrifices. He would play well through pain through the 1984 season when his left knee caused him to retire. From the time of his injury on, Remy would have 10 separate knee operations to repair the damage in his knee.

Even with the limitations caused by his injury, Remy would hit .286 over 710 games in a red Sox uniform. He would end his Red Sox career with a higher on base percentage (.336) than slugging percentage (.334) with 98 stolen bases.

Remy's career would amass him multiple honors, including induction to the Red Sox Hall of Fame and being ranked the 100th best second baseman of all time by Bill James.

After his playing career, Remy never strayed far from the game that he loved. He spent one year in 1986 as a bench coach for the Red Sox double-A affiliate New Britain Red Sox in CT.

In 1988 Remy would start down the path that we all recognize him in today when he joind the New England Sports Network doing color commentary alongside Ned Martin for Red Sox cable TV. Remy would go on to team up with Sean McDonough, and currently Don Orsillo to bring fans Red Sox games for the next 19 years. Just as Remy excelled on the field, Remy has excelled in the booth, culminating in the magical World Series winning season in 2004 where Remy was awarded Massachusetts favorite TV announcer by Sports Illustrated and Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year as voted by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association as well as 4 Emmy Awards.

Jerry Remy has turned the local baseball market into the cult of the Rem Dawg. Whether it be his Hot Dog Stand on Yawkey Way or his website, Remy is an integral part of the Red Sox experience.

"I may not have had the greatest stats. I may not have made the most money. But I can live with myself knowing that I had the opportunity to play on the big stage, and I did it as best as I possibly could every single day." - Jerry Remy, Watching Baseball

This Top 100 Red Sox profile was written by Tim Daloisio, Editor and Chief Blogger of the Red Sox Times.


John said...

RemDog rules... and he was my type of player, not the biggest or fastest but played hard, stole some bases and played a pretty good second base

Marc said...

I consider Remy to be one of the best TV guys ever to broadcast a baseball game. Good call, having him on this list!

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