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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Walpole Joe Sighting, the Hits Keep Coming

After recovering from the latest Daniel Bard meltdown, the Fenway Park: The Centennial book tour headed to the Walpole Barnes & Noble and an evening reminiscing and signing books with old friend Joe Morgan (with the author below). The manager of Red Sox AL East champion clubs in 1988 and '90  held court for nearly two hours as people from grandmothers to cops stopped by to check out the book and bend his ear.

"Walpole Joe," who still lives in town less than a mile from the house he grew up in, had his own Fenway memory to share, circa 1959:

"I was playing with the old Kansas City A’s. I came to Fenway Park, and half the town of Walpole was there. I pinch-hit, the only time I ever hit at Fenway as a professional. Jerry Casale was the Red Sox pitcher. He gave me a fastball I fouled off, then he gave me a curve which I took, and I would have bet my life that he would come back with another curve ball. But he came back with the high fastball, and I said, 'Thank you very much!' as I smoked a triple off the left center-field wall."

Asked about his favorite Fenway moment as a manger, Joe naturally chose the record-breaking hot streak that the Sox went on after he replaced John McNamara. "When I was first hired, [general manager] Lou Gorman said to me, 'OK, Joe, we’re going to make a change in managers, and you will take over until we find another manager.' I said, 'Don’t look too far, Lou. You’ve already found him.'"

Morgan was right, of course; the Red Sox went 12-0 in his first dozen games at the helm, took 19 of 20, and won a record 24 straight at Friendly Fenway. Morgan was soon named the "permanent" manager and wound up winning two division titles in his first three years.

Others to stop by included Pat Conley, an old Ted Williams/Bruce Hurst fan who purchased a book for her grandson,  and the Corkery twins Madison and Nicole (see below), who have never been to Fenway but are sure to bug  dad Chris to take them now. Thanks to Anne-Marie Kennedy for being a wonderful host.

Early buzz about the book as been very good, with terrific reviews on numerous websites including NESN.com and Bostonsportsmedia.com (see list above right).

Thursday night it's on to the West Hartford Barnes & Noble for another 7 p.m. signing, where the author expects he might encounter some Yankees fans gloating about Boston's recent slump. On Saturday it's on to Barrington (Rhode Island) Books for a 1 p.m. session, and then on Sunday a pre-game session (around noon) at the Fenway Park Store on Yawkey Way. Hope to see you soon!

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