Call this space 'thank you notes'
Page 3 of 3 -- Another story that will stay with us was provided by 11-year-old Stephen McKenna of Lexington. He came through the line with his mother, who handed me a handwritten letter authored by Stephen, and an article from a local newspaper that told his story. In the winter of 2001, Stephen was earning money by baby-sitting chickens. (As my father might add here, I am not making this up.) He wrote: "Before I took care of them, the five chickens laid a total of one egg every other day. By the time I had finished loving and playing with them, they were laying 3-4 eggs a day. I earned $3 per day for a total of $147. " Stephen wanted to use the money to take his grandfather, sister, and mother to Opening Day at Fenway Park, but he couldn't get tickets. His mother faxed the letter to my Dad, who called the house to make sure it was legitimate. Then, Will got on the phone to the Red Sox, and Stephen and his family had their tickets to Opening Day. Stephen also wrote that he was doing this in memory of his great-grandmother, Nana, a lifelong Red Sox fan who had died two weeks earlier at the age of 96. Stephen wrote: "Nana's first stop was to go talk to Babe Ruth so he would lift the curse!" I bet Nana and Will are working on that one together.
On behalf of our entire family, I want to express our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to the thousands of you who have taken time to share your thoughts about my Dad with us. From the beautiful tributes from my colleagues in the media, to the random strangers who reached out to us in a variety of ways, your kindness will never be forgotten. Most of all, to our closest friends who have been there for us when we needed them most, and while dealing with their own profound sadness and grief, we love you more than we can adequately express. My lasting hope is that each of us will learn from, and follow, Dad's example. That we will all take time to be better to each other, and perform random acts of kindness.
During that time last month when my father was hospitalized, I was struggling with one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. I was considering a great offer from the New York Mets to become their television broadcaster. During one of our visits, I laid out the details for my Dad. For him, it was an easy decision. It never took Dad long to reach a conclusion. He told me I should go to the Mets because their ownership and television executives were treating me beautifully and with a lot of respect, while the Red Sox ownership and television management was indifferent at best. He felt I deserved a lot better from the Red Sox than a serious reduction in workload and pay. For Dad, it was often about the good guys versus the bad guys.
For several days, I was leaning strongly toward taking the Mets' offer. As usual, my Dad's opinion was the foremost factor in my mind. I can't recall ever making an important decision when I did not follow my Dad's advice. I was having a hard time accepting the Mets' offer because I knew my heart wasn't in leaving Boston and the Red Sox. After a couple of days, my Dad must have sensed this as well. On a subsequent visit to the hospital, at a time when I absolutely had to make a decision, he told me he thought I should stay in Boston because everything I care about is here. Only then did I have courage to follow my heart and stay. To me, it was about the good guy. It was about my Dad. I told him the biggest reason I wanted to stay was because I wanted to spend more time with him, playing golf and hanging out on my boat. I won't have that chance, but I thank God every day that I told him.
Over the years on Red Sox telecasts, many of you have heard me refer to Boston as "America's Greatest City." And when I sit at the microphone on Opening Day, I will say that again and mean it as sincerely as I possibly can. Thank you to all of you who have reminded our family that it is our people who make this city great. Thank you for reinforcing in me that it was the right thing to stay, and why I could never live anywhere else. Most of all, thank you for giving "Mr. Big" the send-off he so richly deserved.
And Dad, thank you for always making me the luckiest and proudest son who ever lived.