“Do you know who Bonnie Frank is?” Bob asked, “Bonnie Franklin?” I said to clarify what he was saying, “Yeah, Bonnie Frank”, he stated again, I looked at him kind of confused, why is he asking about Mrs. Romano from “One Day at a Time”, Todd started laughing and said, “he thinks you are saying Bonnie!” and then said to me, “he is saying Barney Frank”, Bob looked at me with that, “what are you an idiot expression” and said forget it and laughed, whatever he had to say about the former US Senator from Massachusetts must not have been too important. I was sitting in Bob’s seats with him and Todd at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers for a doubleheader the Boston Red Sox are playing. For the last 10 years they have started their spring training games against Northeastern University and Boston College to celebrate baseball in the City of Boston, 10 years prior to that it was only Boston College. The Red Sox have won every game they have played against the 2 universities.
Bob invited me to come to these games, after I met him and Todd at Woody’s on Monday to discuss a project that they were going to help me with, he wanted me to see where he spends the month of March with his baseball family. He told me that they are a cast of characters that he has come to love and looks forward to seeing them all. Bob is a detective with the Cape Coral Police Department, Todd calls him the “unofficial” mayor of Cape Coral. When I was with him and Todd at Woody’s, it seemed that everyone that walked in the door knew him and came over to say hi, he is one of these guys were you feel like he is your best friend within 5 minutes, very out going and gregarious. I felt at ease with him immediately, I met Todd a couple weeks before at one of the Starbucks where I do a lot of writing, I was writing Day 1 “Lonnie Burton” at the time and Todd saw the 2014 Snowbird Baseball Classic program and inquired to what I was doing, we talked for about 2 minutes, he gave me his card, started following me and eventually emailed me with an idea that I will share at a later date.
Todd and Bob have only been friends for the past 4 years, I would have thought that they knew each other for their entire lives by the way they interact with one another, both are actively involved with baseball, when I say actively I mean that it consumes them. They heavily participate with their sons baseball teams, one of Todd’s sons plays at Bethune Cookman, where he is a freshman catcher and has another that is 14 and plays with Bob’s 14 year old son on an elite baseball team. I was excited to meet these 2 at the game to just sit and talk and get to know them a little bit, I met them at the front gate of JetBlue, since Bob had tickets and Todd had 2 extras, Bob hunted down a few Red Sox fans to give Todd’s tickets too.
When we went to our seats, one of the Police Officers working saw Bob and gave him a hug, she was standing next to an usher that also shook Bob’s hand, he laughed and chatted with ease with these 2 like he did with all the others I met at Woody’s, Todd looked at me and smiled and shook his head as if to say “I told you”, we saw Peter Gammons from ESPN and Bob squeezed his arm like he knew him, I didn’t ask if he did, when we got to our seats some of his spring training crew was there and he proceeded to hug and shake hands, while inquiring about personal things. He asked Dan if “90 year old Mary” was there, she wasn’t, Bob looked over at me and asked if I needed a beer, everyone in the section yelled, “Bobs buying!”, I declined, he called me a lightweight, Todd was yelling to the lower level to see what kind of beer they needed, Dan and his crew were yelling their order, even the guy who was wearing shorts that had the Red Sox “red socks” all over them, the type of shorts that most guys really won’t wear but this guy was a fan and he was showing off his Red Sox pride.
As we sat there Bob pointed out different people to me and said that the story will write itself… I met Donald who moved down to Fort Myers 10 years ago with his brother Ronald after his wife of forty two and half years divorced him, Ronald looked at me with those perplexed eyes if to say “can you believe it”, I of course could believe it since this was the first time I met Donald. Donald and Ronald are fraternal twins (check my Day 6 “Magical” post for the definition of what the difference is between fraternal vs identical), they are about 75 to 80 years old, when Donald went into the Army after high school he was an inch taller than Ronald, when he got out and saw Ronald after he had to look up to him since he was 6’4″; Ronald at 5’8″ asked what happened, Donald said that he could finally eat when he left, Donald laughed…
An usher came up to Bob and informed him about the death of another usher that the crew has gotten to know over the years, “Dan the Man” sat next me and shook his head and said that was sad, the guy was always here and we will miss him. Dan has a condo in the area and spends all of spring training there, entertaining different groups of guy friends every week, they come out to all the games and have a great time, Dan is like Bob, he seems to know everyone, he is constantly laughing and entertaining with ease, he is in his element, the guys with him this 1st week are the guy with the sweet shorts and 2 guys he grew up with, on the same block in fact. One is a Yankee fan, a good one, if there is such a thing Dan’s boyhood friend says of the other, they laugh. Dan tells me the story of his son and his reaction to Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, which gave the New York Yankees a 6–5 victory over the Red Sox. The Yankees won the game and the series on the home run, thus prolonging the Sox’ “Curse of the Bambino” for one more year. After the loss Dan went downstairs to blow off some steam and get over the disappointment, he heard his son crying in his room, he was proud, he knew his son now knew what it is like to be part of Red Sox Nation and told him he was an official fan.
Dan asks if I ever watched a game Fenway Park, I haven’t, he promises to get me a ticket for a game when I am in Boston, he describes to me the chills he gets when he goes up the walkway and sees the green, it is a hair raising experience, I share with him the story of Dotty and Ralph, Day 7 “Red Sox Love” post, he says he knows what they feel. Dan has lived in North Carolina for years and converted numerous fans into Red Sox loyalists, most cheered for the Atlanta Braves prior. Dan looks at Bob and says I need to meet “90 year old Mary”, they both nod.
The Red Sox beat both schools 5-2; I thank Bob and Todd, they take off, I talk to a few more people. I found some life long friends, I think to myself. I will be sharing more about Bob and Todd in future posts and their passion for this beautiful game. “Bob’s Baseball Crew” will also get a lot more mentions, we have something planned that I am extremely excited about “INDEED” (inside joke between Todd and Bob, I hope they inform me sometime). Baseball made me extremely happy on this day!
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