Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Helping Out a Founding Father

On Monday night, we had the benefit for former Red Sox pitcher Jerry Casale at Professor Thom's pub. We had a terrific turnout, and there were lots of goodies for the bar patrons to bid on in a silent auction or go after in a raffle.

My buddy Chris Wertz did a tremendous job setting everything up, and I was happy to assist. We had some great items that I mentioned in some previous posts. But we also had some great last-minute items up for bids, like a signed Carlos Delgado bat, my friend Jere's upcoming book "Dirty Water," two more tickets to a Sox game in early August (graciously donated by my friend Joe), dinner for two at Tavern on Jane, my friend Horton's fine establishment in the West Village, and what turned out to be the biggest prize of the night: two upper level tickets to Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

I met Jerry Casale and his family shortly after they arrived at Thom's, and Jerry was a real pleasure to talk to. We talked about both us being from Brooklyn, and he told me some of his Red Sox stories, about playing in Fenway Park and being teammates with Ted Williams. He was a kick to chat with, and told me in vivid detail the three home runs he hit in rookie year of 1959. Jerry still follows the Red Sox closely, and he told me how much he still hates the Yankees. During the night, a recording of Phil Rizzuto announcing a home run Jerry hit at Fenway in 1959 off the Yankees' Bob Turley was played, and Jerry later explained where the pitch was and how far over the Green Monster it went (and Rizzuto on the radio couldn't believe how far it went). Jerry played this tape for his patrons at Pino's, the restaurant he used to run in midtown Manhattan.

Paul (Fitzy) Fitzgerald, the Boston comedian also known as Nick Stevens, was the MC of the auction, and he did a fabulous job, mixing some great humor with his hosting skills. I also had the pleasure of meeting many of Jerry's family who came out for the event. A video was also played of photos of Jerry throughout his life, from his time in baseball before the Red Sox through the time he ran his restaurant, and even some nice pictures of his family as well.

During the evening, Chris announced to the gathered folks that Larry Lucchino of the Red Sox had sent a $500 donation to the event, which was very nice of the Red Sox to do. They donated some great gifts, and it was terrific that they got involved, too. (The All-Star Game tickets, which were $200 apiece, got the largest bid in the silent auction: $675 in total.)

It was nice to see such a fine turnout, and Jerry and his family were thrilled to be a part of it. It was really our pleasure to help out Jerry, whose bar/restaurant was a forerunner of the bars like Professor Thom's in New York City that brings Red Sox fans from all over the New York area and beyond together to watch over favorite team.

Jerry was like one of our Founding Fathers, and we were glad to be graced with his presence, and happy we could help him in his time of need.

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