One of the few benefits of being quarantined is the opportunity to paw through one’s book shelf and revisit volumes best described as old friends. Such was the case the other day when I spent several hours in the company of legendary Boston Globe sports-columnist Ray Fitzgerald, the recipient of 11 Massachusetts Sportswriter Awards, symbolic of the highest honor bestowed by his peers.
Ray was one of the handful of writers I’d have most liked to meet, as his columns were must-read staples of my adolescence. Sadly, he died as the result of a long illness at the age of 55 in August, 1982, several months after I’d started working for The Sports Museum. And though I never met him in person, I feel I do know him through his columns, preserved in a posthumous volume entitled Touching All The Bases and, in a collection of profiles of Boston sports greats, Champions Remembered that remains a staple of any serious library of Bostoniana.
I also feel I know him through my friendships with his fellow Globe mates Leigh Montville, Bob Ryan, and Dan Shaughnessy, who are all quick to share their favorite Ray stories. I was also privileged to learn much about the former Notre Dame first baseman and small town (Westfield, MA.) newspaper editor from his first Globe editor, Jerry Nason, who donated his archive to The Sports Museum, included among it’s treasures, is the letter Ray mailed to Jerry in 1966, requesting a chance to apply for a job at the Globe.
The letter, reproduced here, was composed on a manual typewriter than dropped its capital I’s as an inadvertent metaphor for the inherent modesty of the writer. Imagine Hank Williams sending a postcard to the Grand Old Opry requesting an audition for open mic night and you get the picture.
The best of Fitzgerald’s work culled from his 17-year stint at the Globe is contained in his book of columns, of which 22 hardcover copies are currently available on Amazon starting at $7.76 postpaid. A true bargain for the “greatest hits” of the writer Jerry Nason told me was his best hire in his 30 plus years as sports editor.