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Farewell, Friend

Thursday, May 10, 2012, 18:13 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

(Cross-posted from the Triumphant Red Sox Fan Forum)

CBSBoston: Fenway Park PA Announcer Carl Beane killed in one-car crash: http://cbsloc.al/Kn3pkC

Received on my BlackBerry at 4:17pm yesterday

Carl Beane lets me try on his 2004 World Series ring, June 21, 2005.

Carl Beane was the kind of person who felt like a friend even if you had never met him.

To listeners of the Massachusetts radio stations where Carl was a broadcaster for the past 40 years, he was the guy who brought them the sports reports, covering everything from high school to the pros with sincerity and professionalism. Others knew him as the mellifluous voice welcoming them to Fenway Park and introducing each batter who came to the plate. To the men who played at Fenway, whether for the home team or the visitors, he was someone who went out of his way to learn the correct pronunciation of each player. The NESN and WEEI game broadcasters in the booth next to his and the beat writers down the hall considered him a respected colleague.

Some of us had the good fortune to become personally acquainted with Carl. In my case, it happened through his wife, who works for the same company I do and brought him into work one summer day in 2005 so her co-workers could get a peek at his 2004 World Series ring. She booked a conference room and spread the word that anyone who wished was welcome to stop by and see it, try it on, have their picture taken with it. Carl must have spent an hour and a half entertaining a steady stream of people, but he was every bit as excited to share the symbol of long-awaited victory with them as they were to touch it for a few magical seconds.

Over the next seven years, I met up with Carl from time to time. There were spring training vacations to Fort Myers during which he was there to do the public address honors at City of Palms Park. Or the time I ran into him during a Fenway tour and introduced him to some out-of-state friends who were big Sox fans. My mother met him for the first time after we attended a game and almost literally ran into him afterward in the concourse, when we were leaving and he was rushing from the public address booth to the clubhouse to do post-game interviews for his radio job. Even when in a hurry, he took a few seconds to be friendly and gracious.

But my favorite Carl Beane story unfolded at a minor league hockey game in Worcester. I was sitting a row in front of Carl and Lorraine when a small group of teenage boys a few seats down noticed the flashy jewelry on Carl’s finger. Seemingly without a thought that these young men were complete strangers and this was a $15,000 ring, Carl slipped it off, handed it to one of the boys, and invited him to pass it around so everyone could check it out.

When I attended last Friday evening’s Red Sox game with my mother, my friend Karen, and Karen’s family, I had no way of knowing it would be the last time I would hear Carl’s voice in person. I didn’t see him, but Karen did, meeting him at the park three hours before game time for a previously arranged personal tour in honor of her son’s birthday and her granddaughter’s first visit to Fenway. In addition to getting their pictures taken with Carl’s ring (the 2004 version, that night), they were also invited to step out onto the field during batting practice. In talking about what a great job he did in his role as the voice of Fenway Park, Karen told Carl that, if he wanted it, he would have the job for the rest of his life. And he did.

The Red Sox left on a brief road trip after Sunday’s game. Carl was going about his other business around mid-day yesterday when he suffered some sort of attack—a heart attack, the reports are saying—while driving, lost consciousness, and drifted off the road. He probably never knew what hit him.

People who were much closer to him than I was—his wife, daughter, grandchildren, step-children, neighbors, professional colleagues, and close friends—are mourning in ways that the rest of us aren’t. But for every person on Carl’s Christmas card list, there are countless others who associate his voice with some of the most entertaining moments of their lives and will miss it.

The Red Sox are preparing to pay tribute to Carl Beane before tonight’s game. I hope they will continue the tribute throughout the evening by leaving the announcer’s booth empty and the microphone still, so the fans in the stands, the “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” Carl greeted en masse before every game, can hear him in their memories one more time.

Categories: remember, sports
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