Today, after 15 phenomenal years, the Boston Red Sox lost the voice we have grown so accustomed to hearing. A 3-1 Red Sox loss to the Cleveland Indians will be an afterthought to this October 4 game.
As we all know by now, news circulated in late August that Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo would be fired following the 2015 season. Outrage followed across New England, and that may even be an understatement. I could go on and on disagreeing with NESN’s views on the matter or the way they handled the situation, but it’s time to move on.
First things first: I grew up listening to Orsillo call games, as he started in 2001 when I was just over four years old. He was someone I idolized as a Boston kid, and someone with whom New England had become so familiar. I’ve always said Vin Scully is to the Los Angeles Dodgers as Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy are to the Red Sox.
Today was odd, special, and at the end of it all, pretty damn sad, as all knew it was Orsillo’s final broadcast for the Red Sox. Prior to the start, a plane roamed around Progressive Field — that’s in Cleveland, remember — with this message from ‘Red Sox Nation’:
Thank you Red Sox Nation for this plane over the stadium. pic.twitter.com/LO9PtjZ1mn
— Don Orsillo (@DonOrsillo) October 4, 2015
How? Who paid for it? Who knows, but if anything it shows what he has meant to so many. Throughout the broadcast, NESN showed various highlights from his time (probably to make up for not airing the video tribute at Fenway). It was almost as if we were counting down the innings he had left. Like I said, it was odd. Prior to the top of ninth, Orsillo thanked his colleagues, friends, family, and most importantly to him, the fans. The speech left the man he called his best friend and other member of the dynamic duo, Jerry Remy, in tears.
The impact Orsillo leaves is unique, and to see Remy in tears made many feel exactly the same way. In New England, not everyone knows the Mookies or the Xanders of Boston but nearly everyone can tell you who Orsillo is. Players, coaches, and members of the Red Sox organization made personal connections with him. He’s the soundtrack to their highlights and a dear friend off the field. It was never more evident than after the game, when all Red Sox came outside of the visiting dugout and tipped their caps to the press box.
This was the play of the game, a fantastic way to end a forgettable season for a team that was expected to win. You can’t always control the outcome, but you can always present yourself with class. Torey Lovullo and the Boston ball club did just that for a man who has always taken the high road.
As an 18-year-old who aims to continue a career within baseball in some fashion, I thank you, Don. Thank you for being the model many people continue to admire.
As a last hoorah, I give you what I still believe is the funniest Don Orsillo moment, that you’ve probably seen a thousand times but could watch forever.
San Diego, enjoy it.