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She drew on the Red Sox for coloring-book inspiration

In 2004, Peg Connery-Boyd of Mystic, Conn., was looking for something to keep her three young sons busy on a road trip that would take them to Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and Boston, where they would catch a Red Sox game. "I was sick of the Game Boys," said Connery-Boyd, a native of Springfield.

Since her boys are rabid Sox fans and the game at Fenway would be the trip's highlight, she searched for a Red Sox coloring book - but couldn't find one. The family survived the trip, but Connery-Boyd, who was taking figure-drawing classes, couldn't stop thinking about the coloring book that wasn't. So she decided she'd make one.

"I started to draw the players for practice, and I really found grace and beauty in it," she said. "I tried to capture their character - the expression on Curt Schilling's face as well as the way he uses his body when he's pitching, that sort of thing."

The first player she drew was Manny Ramírez. Her sons and their friends loved the sketch and encouraged her to continue. So she did all the players, except Johnny Damon. She said she could "never quite capture" him, despite repeated attempts. When he defected to the Evil Empire that fall, she said, that all made sense.

That winter she holed up in her attic, amassing portraits of her favorite players in action. "My friends thought I was crazy," she said with a laugh. But her sons didn't. They drew up lists of players they deemed worthy of coloring-book immortality, then suggested she add other activities to make the book more interesting. Connery-Boyd's nephew Brendan Fitzgerald, then a student at Ithaca College, offered to do that piece of the project.

When the book was finished, Connery-Boyd picked up the phone, called the Red Sox switchboard, and explained the project to the operator. "Her name was Christine," she said, "and I'll always remember her. She was so nice. And she thought it was a great idea."

The Sox brass that Christine connected her with thought it was a great idea, too, but they couldn't help. They advised her to call the Major League Baseball office in New York, which owns the rights to the team logos. She sent a book proposal and waited months before finally hearing that the MLB had approved her project. She was granted the necessary licensing and, for a fee, found herself in the book business.

"She has a lot of passion and love for the game, and it shows," said John Olshan, director of new business and interactive media for Major League Baseball. "We can't get enough of products geared toward kids."

Then the MLB told Connery-Boyd that they wanted her to make books for each of the 30 teams in the league. Once she got over her shock, she said, she headed straight back to the proverbial drawing board to sketch the dreaded Yankees.

But, she said, "my heart just wasn't in it." She only wanted to draw players she knew and loved. Fortunately she was acquainted with an artist who's also a Yankee fan, so she hired him to do the job. She has since hired more artists to do similar books for other MLB teams and considers herself as a sort of "manager" for each book.

With a first printing of 5,000 copies, her 60-page Red Sox book, priced at $11.95, hit Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and other retailers this summer, and she expects it will soon be for sale at Fenway and on Yawkey Way. It's filled with pictures of everything from a bat-swinging Manny to a pensive Terry Francona with arms crossed in the dugout to David Ortiz buddying up to a young fan. There's also a matching game for both player nicknames and retired numbers, several tricky crossword puzzles and word searches, and lots of baseball trivia.

The whole experience, said Connery-Boyd, who grew up listening to radio broadcasts of Red Sox games in her bed each night, has been "like a dream."

"I can't tell you how much fun it is to draw this team," she said. "I just think the Red Sox are a really cool bunch of people."

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