I will never forget the look on the face of Claudia Williams when she said those words to me through eyes brimming with tears. Could an artist receive any greater tribute? “Franc has captured something nobody else ever has”.
It was a magical day. I was writing a story for the local paper the Venice Gondolier so I was afforded all the perks and privileges of all the big shots from the Boston papers and I made the most of it. I spoke with Dom DiMaggio, Rico Petrocelli and spent a good deal of time with Luis Tiant.
L to R Rico Petrocelli, Luis Tiant and Dom Dimaggio applaud Franc, standing in the back.
Present on the stage that day was this man.
His name is Hank, Hank Evanish. Hank is a very successful business man from Taylor Pennsylvania. He has designed golf courses and he owns a chain of health clubs throughout Pennsylvania. Franc’s hometown is Scranton Pennsylvania and he sculpted a statue to honor the coal miners of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania and that is how Hank became aware of his work.
It just so happens that Hank was also a veteran of the Korean War. In fact he was a US Marine flyer and when he went to flight school, one of his instructors was a guy named Ted Williams. When Ted Passed away in July of 2002, Hank wanted to do something to honor his memory. It was his initial vision and generosity which energized the entire project and ultimately brought he and Franc together. And on this day in Hernando Florida, he saw it all come to fruition.
For me the day was as great as any Christmas I ever enjoyed as a kid. I talked with Rico Petrocelli about the magic of the 1967 Red Sox. Luis Tiant regaled me with stories of the 1975 World Series. I got to tell Dom DiMaggio that he was the best defensive outfielder my Dad ever saw and that he was his favorite player. The specifics of those conversations have faded from my memory. However what will forever be etched there will be the face of Claudia Williams and the sound in her voice when she said, “Franc has captured something that nobody else ever has, when I look into the face of his statue, I see my dad.”
Franc Talarico had come to know Ted Williams. He came to know the heart of the man who sat by the bedside of kids dying with cancer. He came to know the heart of a father, the heart he shared with his little girl.
And this glorious ride had one more stop. Boston, and Fenway Park.
to be continued…..
And so it was, at this time in Fenway Park history, autumn 2003.