BOSTON — The ultimate fixture at Fenway Park and in New England living rooms for decades, the late and iconic Jerry Remy was celebrated for his impact on the Red Sox and their passionate fan base in a stirring and emotional pregame ceremony on Wednesday night.
Remy, who won over fans with his gritty style of play while playing for his hometown Red Sox from 1978-84, took it to another level entirely in his 34 years in the NESN broadcast booth.
Following another bout with lung cancer, Remy died on Oct. 30, 2021 — only 25 days after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Red Sox downed the Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game.
There have been different types of remembrances for Remy since he died, culminating with Wednesday’s ceremony that included many of his beloved family members (including his wife Phoebe, son Jordan and daughter Jenna) and former teammates, including Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley.
All season long, the Red Sox are wearing patches with Remy’s last name and jersey number (2).
The ceremony started with a poignant video tribute of highlights featuring the best of Remy on the field and in the booth. Remy was an avid fan of The Beatles, making it most fitting that the song that played during the montage was “Here Comes the Sun.”
“It’s great to be here for my buddy Jerry,” said former Red Sox reliever Bob Stanley, the team’s all-time leader in appearances. “He was a great teammate, and first of all, he was my best friend. He was a gamer. He worked his butt off every day. He worked so hard that he had seven knee operations. But he was a battler on the field and all the way to the end. Jerry, I miss you, I love you and save me a chair at the bar. Thank you.”
Sean McDonough, the play-by-play man widely credited for loosening Remy up on the air in the mid-to-late 1990s, spoke passionately and emotionally on behalf of his friend. It was McDonough who dubbed Remy “The Rem Dawg” at a time lunch-pail Boston players like Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek and Brian Daubach were known as “Dirt dogs.”
“The pain of Jerry’s loss is still very raw,” McDonough said. “The reality hasn’t fully sunk in. The sense in this early season that someone who was so remarkably important to the Red Sox experience isn’t here anymore is palpable, and it’s sad. Jerry is, and will always be, that special. Rest in peace, ‘Rem Dawg,’ we love you.”
Remy also worked with play-by-play announcers Ned Martin, Bob Kurtz, Don Orsillo and Dave O’Brien during his years in the booth.
It was announced during the ceremony that the home broadcast booth at Fenway will be named “The Jerry Remy Booth,” and there will be a plaque on the door highlighting his various accomplishments.
There was no bigger fan of Remy than current Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
“I know we miss him. I miss him especially now that the clubhouse is open [to the media again], and just him being there at 1 o’clock just waiting for us to walk in and ask for the lineup. I miss that part,” Cora said. “But we understand he was a very important part of this organization. He was important for us. He was one of the guys who was always pulling for us. He was very honest. He was a joy to be around.”
What resonated for people who knew Remy was his honesty, loyalty and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic. Aside from Dustin Pedroia, there was rarely a Red Sox player who beat broadcaster Remy to the ballpark.
For viewers, they loved the sense of humor Remy displayed on the air, whether it was a self-effacing comment about his career or picking something to cackle about, such as the time one fan threw a slice of pizza at another during a game in 2007.
The bits will live on forever, such as Remy falling down from his perch in the broadcast booth while playing air guitar or that infamous night he lost a tooth while doing a game.
But Remy wasn’t just funny as a broadcaster. He had a gift for breaking down the game in a relatable manner, doing so with his distinctive Boston accent.
For the many players whose games he called, Remy was a voice they could trust.
“I think there’s a lot of great memories a lot of people had with Jerry, myself included,” Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “He was special to not only the fans, but the players and the personnel around here. It’s tough to lose a guy like him.
“He was great. He was someone you could talk to. I think it was just, overall, his perseverance. He never made it seem like he was going through anything. He was a pretty strong guy.”