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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The harmless practical joke that changed baseball

On Oct. 2, 1983, the Boston Red Sox, their fans and the baseball world said goodbye to Carl Yastrzemski. There was a whole massive production at Fenway Park for his final game, with an hour-long pregame ceremony, the retirement of his No. 8 jersey and a letter, read aloud to the crowd, from President Ronald Reagan. For a team that hadn’t reached a World Series in eight years, and hadn’t won one in 65, it was the biggest Red Sox story imaginable.

But that night, the Boston sports talk radio show “The Sports Huddle” on WHDH wasn’t talking about Carl Yastrzemski. It was talking about a relatively unknown baseball lifer named Vern Rapp. And that little four-hour show was about to change baseball history.

The 1983 Red Sox were not a good baseball team, 78-84 on the season, and over the season’s last month, and for most of the season really, the only story worth talking about was Yaz’s retirement. It reached such a critical mass that even people who loved Yaz—which was everyone in Boston—had begun to tire of talking about it. So, Bruce Cornblatt, then a young producer of “The Sports Huddle,” a weekly sports call-in show (and now a producer at MLB Network), thought it would be funny to gently mock all the fanfare by doing a tribute to someone else, someone far less celebrated, on the day of Yaz’s last game.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the most remote person we could,” Cornblatt told me. “We thought that might be funny for a little while.”

So, what do you suppose happens if this little radio prank hadn’t been pulled?

 

QLE Posted: April 28, 2020 at 01:31 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: carl yastrzemski, managers, pete rose, vern rapp

 

 

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