Call to the bullpen: Pedro is gassed.
He gained fame traveling among the stars of Hollywood and the United Federation of Planets, but Leonard Nimoy -- who died Feb. 27 -- was at his roots a Boston boy whose life in many ways paralleled that of his hometown baseball team.
Nimoy fell in love with theater while growing up in the West End neighborhood near the Boston Garden. He found time between productions to help support his family by selling newspapers near Boston Common, where his competitors most likely included two other sons of immigrants -- twin brothers Arthur and Henry D'Angelo -- who later became known as owners of the Red Sox superstore Twins Enterprises.
(If you've never heard of the West End, that's because it no longer exists -- it was torn down in the name of urban renewal in the early 1960s and replaced with high-rise apartments and the Central Artery Expressway.)
Portrait of a young fan.
Young Leonard began attending games at Fenway Park when Ted Williams was at his peak in the 1940s. He recalled seeing The Kid homer on more than one occasion, and likely had a special spot in his heart for Boston's nine-language-speaking bullpen catcher Moe Berg as a fellow brainy Jewish kid from a humble background.
By the time Ted left for the Marines in 1952, Nimoy had too -- spurning his parents' wishes of a medical or law career by heading to California in search of stardom. It didn't come quickly, and while driving a cab to make ends meet Nimoy once picked up a fellow Hub native who peppered him with questions about life back home: John F. Kennedy. Since both were baseball fans, it's likely that the Red Sox were one topic of conversation.
Taxicab encounter: Two commanders
Like the Sox, Nimoy struggled during the next 15 years before finally making it big in 1967. While Boston shocked the baseball world that summer with its improbable ninth-to-first "Impossible Dream" team, Nimoy became an out-of-this-world superstar as half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. He took advantage of his popularity on "Star Trek" by dabbling in a second career as a singer, but just as Boston outfielder Tony Conigliaro discovered with "Little Red Scooter," Nimoy's crooning "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" didn't make anybody clamor for him to quit his primary job.
Listen if you dare.
After their glorious revival of '67 the Red Sox slumped a bit the next few years, during which "Star Trek" was canceled, but both the ballclub and Nimoy's career had a resurgence in the late 1970s. The adventures of Spock, Captain Kirk, and their Enterprise crew hit the big screen at the same time the Red Sox were annually battling the Yankees for American League East supremacy.
He never found Babe's piano either.
One wishes a coach employing Vulcan logic could have been on hand in 1978 to stop Don Zimmer from banishing Bill Lee from the rotation or sending up Bob Bailey to face Goose Gossage, but Nimoy was too busy furthering the "Star Trek" franchise and narrating the hit TV show "In Search of..." There he looked for Big Foot, Amelia Earhart, and the Loch Ness Monster, but Boston fans would have been happier had he sought out more pitching.
Another revival came in the late 1980s -- three division titles and a pennant for the Red Sox and a blockbuster film directed by Nimoy: "Three Men and a Baby." One of the movie's stars, coincidentally, was Ted Danson, who had previously made a name for himself playing washed-up Boston relief ace Sam "Mayday" Malone on "Cheers."
It must have been exasperating for a man of Nimoy's intelligence to endure the string of excruciating and seemingly preventable Red Sox setbacks during this period. Spock may have lacked emotions, but the man behind the ears had to feel the pain.
Would a well-timed Vulcan nerve pinch have kept John McNamara from leaving Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, or Grady Little from taking out Pedro in the '03 ALCS? One can only speculate, but it sure would have been fun to try.
Take that, Grady!
By the time the Red Sox finally broke through in Stardate 2004, "Star Trek" was into its third generation of fans and Nimoy as Spock had become a pop culture icon of the highest order. His reaction to Boston's incredible comeback against the Yankees in the ALCS is not documented, but he was likely not surprised.
After all, the Red Sox had that season briefly employed a pitcher, Joe Nelson, whose best pitch was known as a "Vulcan Changeup."
Now that's logical.