Saturday, April 14, 2007

More classwork?!?

Here's a feature article I wrote for that same COM 201 class on a Winchester, MA celebrity.

(Speaking of that class, a project my group made for it is a finalist in a national competition! Our public service announcement about cultural tolerance is one of eight clips chosen among many. If our clip wins the contest, it will become the basis of a television commercial that will be aired nationally! Our group needs your help to make sure we win! Here's the link:
The link on the bottom left, "Tolerance", is ours. Click on it to watch the 1 minute commercial. To vote, click the link at the bottom of the page, and rank Tolerance #1. The form only requires an email address so you can't vote twice. It won't send you anything. I really appreciate any and every vote I get. On behalf of my whole group, thanks in advance.)

Well, that was a long aside. Anyway, here's the article, which I submitted to the Winchester Star and hope to have published in the near future.

"Ed's Ballgame"

It was a starry night at Fenway Park. The lights blared. Humidity and excitement filled the air. 34,187 fans filled the tiny stadium, anxious for the pre-game ceremonies to begin. It was time for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team to be announced at the 1999 All Star Game. The PA announcer went through the list of players, some Hall-of-Famers, some soon to be: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Clemens, and Jackie Robinson. The last of the twenty-five to be announced was the hometown favorite, the face of Boston Red Sox Baseball. The announcer spoke with a certain swagger in his voice. He too had been consumed by the excitement. “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the last member of the MLB All-Century Team. Please welcome the left fielder, number nine; the greatest hitter who ever lived. Ted Williams!” The crowd went wild as Williams rode down the field in a golf cart. Fenway Park was home to the greatest cast of baseball players ever assembled that night, as current all-stars socialized with all-time greats. Williams was in the middle of it all. Players, fans and broadcasters alike reveled in the heat of the moment. The happiest person in the stadium was not a baseball player, current or former. He was sitting in the press box, forty feet above the action. Ted Williams’ appearance had confirmed the fact that the voice of the Boston Red Sox, Ed Brickley, was living his dream.

Current Winchester resident Edward Brickley was born in Boston in 1936 to a school teacher father and a stay-at-home mother. His brother Christopher was born five years later, and his sister Lois, the baby of the family, came along in 1947.

As a child living in West Roxbury, Ed would leave his house at nine in the morning and come back in the dark after a long day of pickup baseball. He didn’t need anything but a ball to have fun.

Ed joined the military after he graduated from Boston College, and got married soon afterwards. He and Betsy Coady had 3 children together: Beth, Pamela, and Edward, Jr.

Marion Rogers was a neighbor to the Brickley family for eight years while they lived on Tufts Road. Besides praising him for his gentleman attitude, she also was impressed by his effort. “Ed is dedicated to whatever he’s doing. He never goes into anything half way. He worked hard for years to provide for his family, and still had time to spend with them.”

Marion could tell Ed was particularly happy about his jobs with both the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. “Ed was passionate about his jobs, especially the ones in sports. You could tell he really loved what he did.”

Ed’s favorite athletes have always been those who give their best effort. They play the game the same way Ed did as a kid. That is the reason he liked former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra so much, as well as Ted Williams, his favorite player of all time. He loved Ted Williams so much that his daughter named one of her children after him. The passion Williams and Garciaparra showed and the effort they gave for their job were the same Ed would have for his jobs in sports.

Ed’s first sports-related job was with the New England Patriots. In 1966, Jack Dwyer, a childhood friend of Ed’s was down a man and needed an extra statistician for his team. He asked Ed to join, and Ed happily agreed. When Jack resigned in 1975, Ed became the head statistician. Ed remained in that role until 1985, when he retired. His official title was chief statistician and official scorer. As a statistician, he and his staff had to record all the stats during the game. As the official scorer, he used his knowledge of the rules of football to record stats and other game data such as the distance of field goals and length of penalties. Ed said his time with the Patriots was very enjoyable, but also very time consuming. “I left for church early in the morning, then headed to Foxboro [Stadium] before 10 am. I would finish the stat sheet late, and get home close to midnight after each game,” Ed stated. At the end of each game, the chief statistician had to announce the statistics to the media in the press box. Little did Ed know that the announcing experience from this job would be useful later in his career.

Ed did not work in sports again for another decade, but he continued to be the avid fan he always had been. He retired from his job at Polaroid in 1996, and got an important phone call just months later. In March of 1997, he received a call from another friend of his. His friend (who shall remain anonymous) worked in the Boston Red Sox front office. Ed had been trying for years to get a job with the Red Sox. Finally there was an opening. He was not told much about the job. Ed’s friend asked him to come in for an interview, in which the details of the job would be explained. That one interview turned into a series of sessions with various members of the Red Sox front office. At one of the later meetings, the interviewer asked Ed, “Have you ever considered a public address job?”

At first, Ed thought he was kidding. “My voice isn’t good enough,” he replied with a smirk.

Many other people were auditioning for the job, including a handful of radio broadcasters. The interviewer told Ed to read the script that had been prepared for all of the candidates. After frantically searching for a few minutes, the interviewer could not find the script.

Ed looked at the interviewer and asked, “Can I just give the 1949 Boston Red Sox starting lineup?” The interviewer allowed it, and Ed announced the lineup for a team that hadn’t played together in forty-eight years. His reason for choosing the 1949 squad was that “it has Ted Williams in it”.

Ed came back a few more times for follow up interviews. The Red Sox had found their man. Ed got a call in late March that determined his fate with the Red Sox Organization. His friend greeted him, then proclaimed, “I have good news and bad news.”

Ed answered, “I’ll take the good news first.” He waited for the caller’s response, anxious to hear the result.

“The good news is that you’ve got the job. You’re going to be our Public Address Announcer,” his friend replied.

“There can’t be any bad news then,” Ed joked.

“The bad news is that the pay stinks.”

“You’re going to pay me too?” Ed asked, chuckling.

Just weeks before the start of the 1997 season, Ed Brickley had a new job. He was working for his favorite sports team, something he had always wanted. On Ed’s first day as the Public Address Announcer, the Red Sox played the Seattle Mariners. It was opening day, 1997, and Nomar Garciaparra was the Sox’ leadoff hitter. Nomar was first Sox player he introduced, and he soon became his favorite. “Now batting for the Red Sox: the shortstop, number five, Nomar Garciaparrrrra!” Ed shouted, smiling. As the words left his mouth, he knew this was the job for him.

The greatest moment of Ed’s PA career came at the 1999 Major League Baseball All Star Game, the aforementioned scene that he will never forget. “That night was beyond description. It was great for me, but also for anybody that liked baseball and followed the Red Sox and the story of Ted Williams,” Ed recalled. “The pre-game ceremony was one of the greatest moments in Boston baseball history. After the introduction of Williams, it was fantastic. The control room was loaded with Fox TV and MLB executives, and when Ted came on the field, the whole room was wiping their eyes. I still get goose bumps when I hear the introduction.”

In 2002, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a group of investors led by John Henry and Tom Werner. With new ownership came new employees. Luckily for Ed, he was not laid off. However, he lost his position as the PA announcer. When Ed spoke of the PA job, he had nothing to say but positive remarks. “I loved everything about my job with the Red Sox. I had another three letter word for it: joy. The people I worked with-- I use “work” euphemistically-- were wonderful. It was a delightful atmosphere to be in. Some of the greatest moments of my life happened in the Fenway Park press box.”

Ed now works in the Legends Suite, which has many famous visitors. Since he got his new job, Ed has been able to talk to some of the Red Sox greats like Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, and Dennis Eckersley. He may not still have his favorite job, but he also loves the one he currently has. “It’s quite an honor to speak with those men. I really enjoy being in their company.”

One of Ed’s favorite aspects of the game of baseball and his job is the unpredictability involved in both. “That’s one thing that makes baseball so great because you never know. On a given day, anything could happen.” That unpredictability, the magic of baseball fuels Ed’s passion for the game. That magic was on the field that summer night in 1999. It was there at Ed’s first game as PA announcer. Ed Brickley truly enjoys what he does. Because of his passion and determination, Ed Brickley has experienced that magic, and got to live his dream.

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