Boston Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy was honored for his three decades in the broadcast booth at Fenway Park in 2017. Remy died Saturday night after a long struggle with cancer. He was 68. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Jerry Remy was an All-Star baseball player. Yet his greatest baseball accomplishments came in the broadcast booth.

Remy overcame the odds of growing up as a small infielder in snowy New England to become the captain and team MVP of the California Angels. He was later traded to his beloved Boston Red Sox. After trying his hand at coaching, he became an unlikely broadcaster, a wise-cracking New Englander with a thick accent that would never play outside of our region.

By his own admission, his first year in the booth did not go well. But he stuck with it, and we are grateful he did. Jerry Remy turned himself into a world-class baseball analyst with an uncanny ability to predict things on the field before they happened.

But what made the RemDawg truly unique was his authenticity. He was a New Englander to the core. He spoke like us, with an accent that no one outside of the region understood. He laughed at the same things we did. Complained about the same annoyances.

On the air, he never tried to be someone he wasn’t. Never tried to lose the accent. Never tried to stop laughing. His laugh was infectious. He saw humor in everything. And those of us fortunate enough to work with him got to share in those laughs all the time.

“That’s the thing I’ll never forget him. His laugh,” Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley said of the man he shared the NESN booth with over the years. “He had such a great laugh.”

“Man, was he funny,” said NESN play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien. “He could have you in tears.”

There were a lot of tears in recent years, and not because we were laughing. Remy dealt with cancer repeatedly since his first diagnosis in 2008. Time and again he beat it, going through surgeries and treatments and returning to the booth each time.

The booth was his happy place. He was always most comfortable when he was calling the game or talking about the game. That’s why he was such a natural on the air.

It’s also why he couldn’t wait to get back to the ballpark. Bored in his room on the road, he would head down to the hotel lobby by noon, hours before he needed to be at the park. He’d sit there talking to coaches and players, sharing stories and getting the pulse of the team.

That passion to call the game never left, even after 33 years in the booth.

The first time I worked a spring training game with him in Florida, we agreed to meet in a parking lot and share the 90-minute ride from Fort Myers to Sarasota. We’d meet at 8 a.m. – earlier than we had to – to hit the road.

I got a text from Jerry at 7 a.m., as I was brushing my teeth, letting me know he was at the parking lot ready to go if I wanted to get an early start. Which was his way of saying it was time to go. Everyone at NESN knew to set the clocks early if you were on Jerry Standard Time.

It’s hard to imagine a Red Sox season without Jerry. He will, without question, go down as one of the most important figures in the storied history of the franchise. The legend continued to grow until the very end. Late this season, Manager Alex Cora and his players took to wearing T-shirts with “Jerry Remy Fight Club” printed across the front. It reflected the underdog spirit of the team.

Remy fought to the end, before finally succumbing to cancer Saturday night. I’ve never known anyone tougher. And I know I’ll be missing him terribly when baseball returns next spring. As will just about everyone in New England.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: