Sometimes a picture can bring me back to a certain time in my life, a time of simplicity and innocence. And it can cause that oh so inaccurate notion that the past were “the good old days” when people were better and more respectful.
This picture, that shows the 1979 Red Sox, sparks amazing nostalgia and yet has a dark sinister side to it. This was the first team I remember following day in and day out. I knew all of these players.
But two of the faces on the picture were part of a shameful, unforgivable and destructive episode of Red Sox history. I am not talking about balls, strikes, home runs or strikeouts. I am talking about one of the worst crimes a human being can ever commit and the cover up within the organization.
I was 7 years old in 1979, straddling first and second grade that year in Weston, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. The team, coming off the Bucky Dent fiasco in 1978, went back to the blue hats and the traditional uniforms.
Yaz got his 3000th hit and 400th home run that year. Fred Lynn was the batting champ. Fisk, Evans, Hobson, Burleson, Remy and Eck were all still there. Bill Lee and Luis Tiant were gone and eventually George Scott would be dealt to Kansas City. Bob Watson made his Boston cameo and injuries led to playing time for Jack Brohamer, Gary Allenson, Ted Sizemore and Jim Dwyer.
The team finished with 91 wins, a solid year but far behind the AL East champion Orioles. It was a fun year in Boston without a prospect for October. Most years I spent following the Red Sox followed that pattern.
In this picture, they have the players, the coaches plus trainer Charlie Moss and the clubhouse attendants, Don Fitzpatrick and Vince Orlando. I knew nothing about them. They were the guys who ran the clubhouse and seeing that they both were in the organization forever, they must have been good guys.
In 2002, it was revealed that Fitzpatrick admitted to sexually abusing children. That is a euphemism for he raped kids.
The Boston Globe broke the story around the same time of the Spotlight stories on the Boston Catholic Church rape scandals. The parallels were hard to dismiss.
Over a decade and a half of Fitzgerald raping kids in Red Sox facilities, including their spring training home in Winter Haven, Florida, occurred.
As early as 1971, his acting in a sexual manner to under age boys was reported. A bat boy was molested by Fitzgerald. He informed Vince Orlando, the other clubhouse manager. So what did he do? He admonished the bat boy for causing trouble and fired him.
The rapes continued. People wonder why child rape is not reported when powerful predators and protected. How do you take on the Catholic Church when an entire region will side against you? How can you report against Penn State when they live for football there?
Who would believe a bat boy against the Red Sox organization in Boston? The Yawkey family, miserable pieces of shit that they were, and did nothing.
Here is the team picture, taken 8 years after the first reported piece of child rape, and Fitzgerald is still there.
Fitzgerald confessed to raping boys as late as 1985, 6 years AFTER this picture was taken. The Red Sox enabled this. He is just a pleasant looking Irish guy with a Red Sox cap on, standing along side the heroes of children all over Boston.
I had that picture hanging up in my room. I am sure many kids he raped did as well.
A picture of my childhood has a dark secret standing in plain sight. And the team of my youth did nothing to stop it.