The roads we choose to travel take us places and we sometimes wonder how we have arrived at where we are. The longer I live, the more convinced I become that if we trust and follow our energy it will reward us. I was rewarded this past week when my energy brought me to the Plantation Celebrity Golf Classic where I shared a round with these guys.
Left to right, Scott, Yours Truly, Marv Foley, George Thomas and Bart.
Marv played five years as a back up catcher with the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers. He retired as a player in 1984 but he never left the game. A “baseball lifer” as he put it, he is the only minor league manager in baseball history to win titles in all three triple A leagues. Today he works in player developement for the Colorado Rockies.
Marv, in action at Yankee Stadium in April of 1980 as he tags out Eric Soderholm.
Now George, well George and I are another story…..
George Thomas Boston Red Sox 1966-1971.
You see our energy had mingled before! It was on a magical day forty-five years ago; I a 14-year-old high school sophomore, standing behind section 27 at Fenway Park, with my dad, he a 29-year-old utility player for the Boston Red Sox, in the first base dugout with his teammates.
George, batted but 95 times for the Red Sox in 1967. He hit .213 with one home run and six RBI. I know, you’re thinking, Humph not very impressive stats. Maybe not, but don’t let that fool you, George Thomas was a force! You see, any man to whom baseball has been his vocation, his profession will tell you, there is so much more that goes into the game then what we as fans witness on the field.
There is an energy that each player brings to the field every day, to the club house, on airplane rides, in the cab, in the hotel and to the day-to-day rites and rituals of a major league team. To be in the presence of the energy that is George Thomas brings a positive force into the lives of those he touches. And so it was with the 1967 Red Sox!
Teammates (L to R) Mike Ryan, Ken Harrelson and Russ Gibson light George’s cigar celebrating the birth of daughter number two in 1967.
George was as versatile, a utility man who has ever played the game. He played every position except pitcher which made him an invaluable part of every team for which he played. This coupled with a remarkable wit, self-deprecating sense of humor and a tremendous capacity to apply the needle, endeared him to managers, coaches and teammates. And, he was a competitor.
George (hatless left) is separated by mates after mixing it up with Tiger pitcher Dennis Ribant (hatless right). Apparently they disagreed on the location of some of Ribant’s pitches. And in spring training no less.
He found numerous ways to interject his humor into virtually every aspect of the game. After playing several games in a row in April of 1967, he went to Manager Dick Williams and said, “Dick, I can’t play all these games, bench me or trade me.” Then there was the time he adopted a pet cockroach and put him on a leash to walk him around the dugout. Always quick with a remark, he strolled to the plate one day in spring training, Johnny Bench was catching and as he dug in he said, “oh I see we play the same position only you have yours written on your shirt.”
George brought that positive energy to the Plantation on Thursday and during dinner we spoke of that special day at Fenway Park four and a half decades ago. The energy of that day reverberates and nearly a half century later it is still palpable and I did not realize why until just this week. On October 1, 1967 in Fenway Park and throughout the city, the state and indeed all of New England, millions of people were united, and what united them was joy; pure, rich, unadulterated joy!
On Thursday, George and Diane Thomas shared their joy with us at the Plantation and I smiled as we were leaving, for after 47 years married, they left hand and hand. It can’t get any better than that!
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, February 11, 2012.