They said he was too small for major league baseball. For 10 seasons, including seven at second base with the Boston Red Sox, Jerry Remy proved them wrong.

His throaty voice, coupled with that accent rooted in his childhood outside Fall River, did not portend a broadcasting legend. Yet there Remy sat in the Red Sox television booth for 34 years, delighting fans throughout New England with his everyman humor and his astute command of the game that defined his life.

Remy died Saturday from cancer. For Red Sox Nation, it was more than the loss of a player and color guy who spent most of his life brightening the aura over Fenway Park. It was a death in the family.

Sox fans of a certain age can still see Remy — at just 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 165 pounds — taking on much larger men with his trademark grit as he patrolled the middle of the Red Sox infield. His courage and skill and earned him a reserve spot on the American League All Star Team during his debut year with Boston in 1978.

But it was Remy’s transition to the microphone in 1988 that elevated him from fan favorite to folk hero. Alongside play callers Ned Martin, Sean McDonough, Don Orsillo and finally Dave O’Brien, the “RemDawg” — so dubbed by McDonough in the 1990s — brought to Red Sox broadcasts an extraordinary knack for explaining what had just happened, not to mention what would happen next.

Between pitches, Remy delighted us with his infectious laugh and penchant for tomfoolery, such as the night in 2014 when his tooth fell out and he repeatedly tried — on the air — to put it back in. Or the hilarious exchange with Orsillo on Patriots Day in 2007 after one fan threw a piece of pizza at another following a scrum for a foul pop-up in the left field stands.

Deadpanned Remy as security ushered “Pizza Man” out of the park, “Of course, he’s been asked to leave the ballgame for ruining a good piece of pizza.”

Remy’s life had its hardships. In addition to his 13-year battle with cancer, he struggled with depression. His private life collided with his public persona in 2013, when Remy’s son, Jared, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to murdering Jennifer Martel, Jared’s girlfriend and the mother of their 4-year-old child.

“While Jared is our son, what he did was unforgivable,” Remy, who went on with his wife, Phoebe, to raise their granddaughter, wrote in his 2019 memoir “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Remy’s last public appearance came on Oct. 5, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the one-game playoff between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The Fenway faithful rose to their feet as he was driven onto the field, grinning ear to ear, in a golf cart. And when he tossed the ball to fellow broadcaster and Red Sox great Dennis Eckersley, they didn’t just cheer. They roared.

Thanks for the memories, RemDawg. Long may your laughter resound.

— Portland Press Herald (Maine)

Recommended for you