No ballplayer likes spending time on the disabled list, nursing a sore shoulder. Nevertheless, injured Bailey Pattin, a middle-infielder in Perry-Lecompton High’s baseball program, has had a most memorable baseball spring.
Bailey’s grandfather, Lawrence resident Marty Pattin, was one of 226 former Boston Red Sox honored 21⁄2 weeks ago before a game at historic Fenway Park as part of the ballpark’s 100th birthday celebration.
The Duck, so nicknamed because of his impeccable Donald Duck impersonation, brought his grandson along for a between-the-lines, behind-the-wall tour of Fenway.
“See that,” Marty said to Bailey, as they walked past third base. “That’s where Rico Petrocelli played.”
When they moved to left field, the former pitcher pointed to the most famous mass of outfield fence in baseball and said: “This is where Carl Yastrzemski could pick a ball off the Green Monster as good as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Then he pointed all the way to the top, to the seats that weren’t there when he played, the seats that look as if they’ve been there for 100 years: “Bailey, that’s where your grandpa hit two home runs. Off the same pitcher. Bill Parsons. Used to pitch for Milwaukee.”
When the tour wound its way to right field, The Duck pointed to Pesky’s Pole and confessed to his grandson a pitching sin from his past: “Gene ‘The Stick’ Michael hit a bloop fly down the line with the bases loaded, hit a grand slam off of me. I’ve never been able to live that down.”
A Red Sox announcer from the 1972 season — Bailey couldn’t remember his name — shared the particulars of his grandfather shaking off a slow start, got hot and helped Luis Tiant to lead the Red Sox within a half-game of the American League East title when Fenway was 60. Tiant lost his first two decisions, Pattin his first five. From June 9 on, Pattin went 16-6, Tiant 15-4.
Bailey watched his grandfather visit with former Red Sox Bobby Doerr, 94, and Johnny Pesky, 92, both of whom were in wheelchairs.
Most of the players came onto the field from center field and headed to their positions. Yaz was introduced from the dugout and on his way to left field stopped by the pitcher’s mound, where Pattin shook his hand and re-introduced himself.
“I think the coolest part was not only could we step on the field, we were sitting in the dugout, and the weird thing was I was thinking, ‘Babe Ruth probably sat in the seat we’re sitting in right now,’” Bailey said.
He also enjoyed partaking in the world’s largest toast during which everyone in the ballpark toasted a Welch’s sparkling grape juice cocktail. Away from the ballpark, his grandfather treated him to a meal of stuffed lobster and cherry stone clams. After his last bite, Bailey made his grandfather’s trip by telling him, “Papa, that’s the best meal I’ve ever had in my life.”
Bailey and his brothers, Blaine and Brock, are set to attend Tuesday’s game between the Royals and Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Bailey said he plans to wear “half Red Sox and half Royals” gear.
The Red Sox (11-16) need all the help they can get. They open the three-game series tonight with a five-game losing streak and are coming off a 9-6, 17-inning loss Sunday to the Baltimore Orioles, whose designated hitter Chris Davis went 0-for-8 at the plate and earned the victory on the mound with two shutout innings.
In doing so, Davis became the first American League position player to become the winning pitcher since Rocky Colavito in 1968. That’s right, designated hitters are considered position players, even though they don’t play a position.