The “Jimmy Fund” had its beginnings in 1948 when the Variety Club of New England teamed with the Boston Braves to help a 12-year-old cancer patient from Maine who was known as simply, “Jimmy”. Millions tuned in on their radios to listen to Ralph Edwards’ Truth or Consequences broadcast as “Jimmy” was being visited by members of the Boston Braves. The response was overwhelming as donations poured in to buy “Jimmy” one of those new fangled TV things so he could watch his Braves play.
In 1953 the Braves headed west for Milwaukee and Tom Yawkey and the Red Sox adopted the “Jimmy Fund” as their official charity. That began a partnership which has grown and flourished for nearly six decades and a titanic energy force behind it all was and still is, Ted Williams.
I continued to tell Franc tales of Ted. I would visit him in his studio, he would ask questions and the more he asked, the more tales came forth. I told him of the reverence there was in my father’s voice when, on my very first trip to Fenway in 1959, he pointed to left field and said, “and that’s where Ted Williams plays.”
On occasion I would see Franc at Golden Beach watching the sunset.
We would talk of tales of Ted, and it was there that Franc became more and more interested in Ted and the Jimmy Fund!
Ted’s “Welcome Home” Dinner after the Korean War raised nearly $200,000 for the Jimmy Fund!
I told Franc how, back in the day when autograph collecting was a hobby and not an industry, when it was done at the ballpark and through the mail, the one surefire way collectors could insure that they would get a 100% authentic, die in the wool Ted Williams autograph was to simply include a check for the Jimmy Fund with their request.
I told Franc about the countless hours Ted would spend visiting kids in hospitals and how it was virtually always done away from any media and without their knowledge. for as cantankerous as Ted could be, as bombastic as he sometimes became, there was always and forever a place in his heart for kids. Especially the kids of the Jimmy Fund! Ted’s efforts on behalf of the Jimmy Fund raised into the millions of dollars. Millions!
After awhile Franc stopped asking questions. He listened intently and he nodded a lot. His vision was taking shape in his head and his hands were about to take over.
to be continued…..
And so it was at that time in Fenway Park history, fall 2002.