Beloved Sox broadcaster Remy dies at 68

November 1st, 2021

Jerry Remy, who realized his dream of playing second base for his hometown Red Sox and then became an icon calling games on NESN for more than three decades, died on Saturday at the age of 68 following his latest bout with cancer, the club announced on Sunday.

“We are saddened by the loss of a beloved player, broadcaster and 13-year cancer warrior,” said principal owner John Henry. “Jerry’s love and connection to baseball didn’t allow anything to stand between the game and him, including for many years cancer. He devoted his entire career to baseball and whether from his seat in the clubhouse or his perch above the field in the broadcast booth, he took generations of rising Red Sox stars and a multitude of fans along for the ride with him. During his lifetime, he witnessed great triumphs and terrible tragedies handling all of it with grace, dignity, and a huge heart. He left an indelible mark on this club and on an entire nation of Red Sox fans.”

“On behalf of the entire Red Sox family, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Phoebe, their three children and the entire extended Remy family,” said chairman Tom Werner. “Jerry’s effortless style made him the finest baseball broadcaster of the past few decades. When you listened to him, it was as if you were having a beer with your best friend, and his insight, humor and charm lifted your spirits. I often texted him between innings to get his perspective on the game, and we enjoyed a relationship I will forever treasure. He was a valued colleague and friend, and we will miss his presence in our clubhouse and our broadcast booth.”

Remy’s final public appearance at Fenway Park came prior to the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees on Oct. 5, when he threw the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate and broadcast partner Dennis Eckersley as the crowd roared with approval.

“Jerry lived and breathed Red Sox baseball," the family of Remy said in a statement on Monday. "Playing for his hometown team was a dream come true, and to have the opportunity to have a second career as the voice of the Red Sox was all that he could have asked for."

In the midst of his 34th season as a broadcaster, Remy announced on Aug. 4 that he was taking a leave from NESN after being diagnosed with lung cancer again. Remy’s first battle with lung cancer came in 2008.

After beating the Tigers on Aug. 4, Red Sox manager Alex Cora dedicated the win to Remy.

“This one's for him," Cora said that day. "He's always been there for us, not only for the players but for [the media], for the whole fanbase and Red Sox Nation, and this time, we're going to stay together and we're going to be fighting with him."

The Red Sox rallied around Remy this season in the weeks following his diagnosis by wearing “Jerry Remy Fight Club” T-shirts.

Growing up in Somerset, Mass., Remy fell in love with the Red Sox during the “Impossible Dream” season of 1967.

Though he wasn’t blessed with an all-world body, Remy, who eventually grew to 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, had a burning desire to play baseball at the highest level.

“I used to pretend the back of my grandfather’s house was the Green Monster. I used to throw the ball up by myself and then try to hit it off the Green Monster,” Remy wrote in a book he co-authored with the late Nick Cafardo called, “If These Walls Could Talk: Boston Red Sox." “It just so happened that right field was the longer part of the field, so I thought I was playing at Fenway.”

The Angels gave Remy his start in professional baseball when they took him in the eighth round of the 1971 Draft.

By ’75, Remy had made it to The Show, breaking in on a team that included the legendary Nolan Ryan and was managed by Hall of Famer Dick Williams.

“He was the classiest act I’ve ever been around,” Remy said in his book about Ryan, noting that MLB’s all-time strikeout king still sent him yearly Christmas cards decades after they were teammates.

On Dec. 8, 1977, Remy was traded by the Angels to the Red Sox for righty Don Aase and cash.

Remy put the Red Sox uniform on in ’78 and kept it on for the rest of his playing career, which ended in ’84 following a barrage of knee operations. Remy even made the All-Star team in ’78.

Nicknamed “The Scooter” or “Scoot” for short, Remy gave a slow-footed but loaded Red Sox roster, which included Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans, a rare boost of speed.

In one of the classic games of all-time, Game No. 163 of ’78 between the Red Sox and the Yankees, Remy went 2-for-4 and nearly had a hit that would have trumped Bucky Dent’s infamous homer over the Monster.

But Remy’s drive to right in the bottom of the ninth was somehow snared on a hop by Lou Piniella, who stabbed at it and came up with it despite being completely blinded by the sun. Instead of a game-tying double or triple, Remy was left with a mere single that only advanced Rick Burleson to second base and the Red Sox lost that heartbreaker, 5-4.

“[Piniella] just reaches out with his glove to his left, and the ball pops right into his glove. He didn’t even know it,” Remy wrote in his book. “If the ball got by him, Burleson would have scored and I’d be at third base. I’d have a statue out at Fenway if that ball had dropped in and got by Piniella, because there was an outside chance I would have an inside-the-park home run and we would have won.”

That was the closest Remy would come to the playoffs. He wound up playing 10 years and 1,154 games in the Major Leagues, batting .275 with 605 runs, 1,226 hits, 140 doubles, 38 triples and seven homers to go with 208 stolen bases.

After his playing career ended, Remy coached in the Red Sox’s farm system for one season in 1986, but it wasn’t for him.

Remy decided to try broadcasting, starting what wound up being a legendary run at NESN in 1988, and he stayed on that job for Boston’s regional sports network for the rest of his life. Remy also did games on non-cable television stations in Boston before the local broadcasts eventually went exclusively to NESN in 2005.

Remy was never shy about admitting that his broadcasting career got off to a slow start, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given his lack of training and the fact he wasn’t particularly outgoing in interviews a player.

But as the years went by, Remy gained confidence in his voice and broke down the game in a concise and relatable way for his viewers.

With help from a couple of play-by-play announcers -- first Sean McDonough and later Don Orsillo -- who knew how to draw out Remy’s sense of humor, Remy’s broadcast took off.

Next thing you know, Remy was dancing on air -- remember the time he fell? -- and playing the air guitar.

Due to his emerging on-air persona, Remy started to become known by Red Sox Nation as the Rem Dawg.

Perhaps the most humorous broadcast moment Remy was involved in occurred in 2007, when a fan threw a slice of pizza at another fan.

Remy and Orsillo were hysterical for several minutes breaking down the pizza throw. In the moment, Remy expressed outrage at a good piece of pizza going to waste.

"It's had that long-lasting effect of like every year, we celebrate National Pizza Day, they talk about it and it comes up all the time. I see videos of it on Twitter," Remy said in an interview with a few months ago. “It's amazing how people have kind of hung to that. … You make calls on hit-and-runs, you make calls on squeezes and you're known for the pizza thing."

Of course, Remy was known for far more than that.

In recent years, he was known for great storytelling on air about his playing days, particularly when he was part of a three-man booth that included Eckersley and play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien. Remy was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2006, as well as the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in '17.

Remy’s voice will forever live on in the archives of Red Sox games and in the hearts of his legion of fans.