Red Sox Nation lost one of its most celebrated figureheads over the weekend as news broke on Sunday that Jerry Remy, former Sox second baseman and longtime color commentator on NESN broadcasts, had lost his long battle with cancer.
NewsCenter 5 has learned that beloved #Boston Red Sox broadcaster and former player Jerry Remy has died. He was 68 years old and in the middle of his 7th cancer battle. Rest in peace, Jerry. 💔 #RemDawg #RIP #RedSox #baseball #MLB pic.twitter.com/gu5coKz5Lb
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) October 31, 2021
Originally drafted by the Washington Senators in 1970, his playing days were well before my time. His first year in the league was in 1975 when he debuted with the California Angels, with whom he would play through 1977. Then, in 1978, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Don Aase where he would remain, even through free agency, until his career came to an end in 1985.
In 1988, he became part of the NESN broadcast booth, joining Ned Martin to do the color commentary. He also worked alongside Bob Kurtz, Sean McDonough, Bob Rodgers, Dennis Eckersley, and a slew of on-field and in-studio personalities over the years. It was his relationship with Don Orsillo, however, that may have been the most special. From 2004 until 2015 when NESN foolishly declined to offer a new contract to Orsillo, the two worked together in near-perfect harmony. The interplay between the two offered so much more than just baseball analysis and commentary; they made watching Red Sox games feel like spending a few hours with family.
There truly are not enough words to describe what Jerry Remy has meant to so many fans throughout the decades, but for those of you who are part of Red Sox Nation, no words are really necessary. So instead of trying to find them, let’s instead let the moments do that talking for us with the Best Jerry Remy Moments.
The Pizzer Incident
No, that’s not a typo. IYKYK. There is no way to start this with any other moment. It may be the best, and normally you build to this kind of thing, but burying it in the piece just was never an option. It was Patriots’ Day in 2007 which, for the uninitiated, is also Boston Marathon Day. The game always starts around 11:00 am and on that day, the Angels were in town. On a pop foul down the third-base line, a fan inexplicably decided to throw a slice of pizza at another fan. Another booth may not have noticed, or just let the whole thing go. Thank goodness this was not “another booth” because this needs to go into the Baseball Louvre:
Jerry’s Air Guitar
It doesn’t seem like a stretch that on-air personalities might have a routine they go through prior to being broadcast live into the homes of millions of people. We rarely get a glimpse into these moments because they are designed to be off-air. One fateful day, Jerry was preparing for a cut-in interview from Tom Caron, the NESN studio host, during the pre-game show. When we first see him, he is trying to keep his composure, but can’t. He admits that he had just, “fallen off a table,” and couldn’t keep from giggling about it. Later in this clip, at the 0:54 mark, we get to see what actually happened. It’s priceless and Remy had to face it over and over again. But he was, as he was with most things of this nature, super cool about it:
He Lost his What?
We have all experienced that feeling of having misplaced something. Perhaps it is a set of keys you cannot find as you are trying to run out of the door in the morning. Maybe it’s a wallet. Could even be an important piece of mail or photograph. In this next clip, Jerry loses something much more unexpected. He isn’t searching for game notes or an identification badge. In fact, he isn’t looking for anything because it isn’t missing even though it is most definitely lost. Feel like a riddle? Well look no further than the next clip for the answer (or the title of the video if you are a real sleuth):
The Great Outdoors
As noted, Jerry Remy was a good-natured guy most of the time, but he also didn’t balk from speaking his mind—as he did in this next moment. If you have never been to a baseball game on a cold, blustery day, then you may not fully appreciate just how uncomfortable it can be. Announcers are often protected from these extremes as they broadcast from climate-controlled spaces behind glass. One fine day at Fenway Park, Don Orsillo decided to open a window while Jerry was taking a quick bathroom break between innings. Upon his return, Mr. Remy was not pleased:
The relationship between the two is evident and he keeps his cool, but this was definitely not just shtick from these two. Jerry was not happy. Good thing for Don they were friends.
Don Orsillo Giggling
This is not just a moment but was almost a lifestyle between these two personalities. As you may have noticed in the pizza video, once the two of them got going, it was very hard for them to stop, especially Don Orsillo. There could be probably 500 hundred clips to include, but here are two. The first is hilarious because it also lampoons Jerry’s Boston accent. For those who don’t know, he would leave out the “R” in words that ended with it (as in the famous: pahked the cah in Hahvahd Yahd). He also, as if his brain needed to balance out the “R” ratio in his life, would add them to the ends of words and names that ended in vowel sounds where they clearly did not belong. Listen for yourself:
In this next one, Jerry is talking to Don about his shirt. Don talks about wearing an undershirt so the “stuff” doesn’t show and Jerry suggests he “trim the stuff” even though that isn’t exactly what Don is talking about. The topic is funny, but the real part of this clip that makes it worth it despite the video quality is the authenticity that comes through. I dare you not to smile listening to it:
The Real Rem Dawg
Jerry Remy was a real person in that he was sometimes private about things, and sometimes very open about them. I think we all can relate to that. As he got older, Jerry began to talk more and more about very personal topics including his battle with depression, fight against cancer, and coming to terms with a horrific crime committed by his son. This is a somber clip, and perhaps feels misplaced in a retrospective, but celebrating what Jerry did in fighting his own demons and sharing that battle with the world to help de-stigmatize mental health struggles is important. Here he is talking about it in a news clip from WCVB, a local Boston ABC affiliate:
It is hard to confront one’s pain and Jerry did it with grace in a way that touched many lives.
He Grabbed What?!
In this final clip, we return to the lighter side of the booth with a moment that is perhaps a little NSFW (Sorry, Nick). Jerry must have always had his eyes peeled on the audience reaction shots because it seemed he noticed everything. This one, however, did not require much detective work. The way he says “Whoops” here is what makes it:
There is simply no doubting the impact that Jerry Remy had on Red Sox fans over the course of his time with the club. It wasn’t his seven career home runs. It wasn’t his 5.2 fWAR with Boston. It had everything to do with who he was, his personality, and how he connected with fans. Here are some things our Pitcher List community members, staffers and PL+ members, had to say:
On June 10 of this year, the Sox were playing the Astros. Remy and Dave O’Brien had an extended conversation about Greinke’s open struggle with anxiety and mental health issues and the value of a star being candid about those difficulties, and the role athletes can play in these conversations. Remy’s willingness to discuss his personal struggles with depression was just as important in that conversation, and his ability to bring humanity and all of himself to broadcasting is precisely while I’ll miss him so much.
On a happier note, Remy and I believe Don Orsillo being unable to speak from laughter for a full 40 seconds after accidentally broadcasting a fan, uh, taking liberties with his female friend, is one of the funniest broadcasting clips all time.
Here is that clip:
Jerry Remy the broadcaster was fantastic at his job. His casual charisma drew in fans new and old alike, while his anecdotes of Sox squads past taught younger folks like myself how to love more than just the current chapter of Boston’s storied franchise.
But it was Remdawg that people loved. When the broadcast booth was at its silliest, Remdawg was at his best. Jerry and fellow goofball Don Orsillo cracked up on air like they were sitting on the couch beside you, a couple of pals whiling away the hours of long summer afternoons.
The man loved his job, loved the team and the game, and maybe loved that relationship with the fans the most. Of course, the fans loved him right back. Jerry Remy was as much a member of the Red Sox teams I grew up loving as Nomar, Pedro, or Big Papi. He will be sorely missed.
My buddy won the backyard Fenway park contest for having the best baseball field in their yard in all of New England. Remy and D.O drove down to the house with about 30 pizzas and spent the entire afternoon there. Remy took time to pitch to all the kids and adults that wanted to hit that day. He was so kind and down to earth. You could tell he was tired but he pushed through it. This was in September of 2019
I would add that his personality and insight during Red Sox games is unmatched. Even during games the Red Sox were losing Remy always found a way to keep you engaged and make you laugh. Red Sox nation will miss having him in our living rooms.
I am also very sad to hear of Jerry Remy’s passing. When I heard him talk openly about his depression many years ago, it helped push me in the direction of finally being open about my own struggles. Plus, he had a great sense of humor. He will be missed. RIP #2.
And a few from those who knew him best:
Tom Caron, via Twitter
Having trouble finding the words to describe what the loss of Jerry means to me, and to all of us who love the Red Sox. He was insightful, funny, and courageous. It was an honor to call him my friend. We will miss him terribly. #RIPJerryRemy
Dennis Eckersley, via Twitter
Red Sox nation has lost a beloved icon. I lost a longtime friend, teammate and broadcast partner. He will be remembered for his passion for the
@RedSox. I will miss him most for his infectious laugh. Fenway Park will never be the same. #RedSoxNation @NESN
Don Orsillo, via Twitter
Thank you for 21 years of friendship. I am nowhere today without you. Showed me the right @MLB way. I know I will text you 3 times a day still. I am lost. #RIPRem @RedSox @NESN
In 2017, Remy celebrated his 30th year in broadcasting with the Red Sox. If you are still unconvinced of what he meant to Red Sox Nation, look no further than this:
During the 2021 playoff game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, Jerry Remy threw out the first pitch to Dennis Eckersley. You can see he was not in great shape, but it was a beautiful moment that, in retrospect, probably deserved a longer moment in the sun. Here it is:
One of the best faces of Red Sox nation won another battle with cancer today and is able to go home. My heart hurts.
Jerry Remy Fight Club forever and always. RIP, legend. pic.twitter.com/QTGWKXsR6n
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) October 31, 2021
We love you, Jerry, and we will miss you every day. pic.twitter.com/tybuCS76vb
— NESN (@NESN) October 31, 2021
One of the best tributes I have seen comes to us from @BostonStrong_34 on Twitter. If you haven’t watched it, prepare yourself for some feelings:
A tribute to Jerry Remy, RIP RemDawg. pic.twitter.com/irlaJdWOma
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) October 31, 2021
I didn’t make it too far into that one before welling up.
Thanks for all the memories, Rem Dawg. You will be missed. I hope you knew how much you meant to all of us for all of these years.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)