Mercy! was Boston Red Sox announcer Ned Martin’s signature phrase for a surpassing moment between or beyond the lines. This book hails Fenway Park’s 2012 centennial through Red Sox radio/television Voices who recall and commemorate an American institution.
Mercy! (Potomac Press, 2012, 300 pages, $27.50) is three stories in one: Fenway Park’s, the Olde Towne Team’s, and its storied broadcasters’. Martin might quote Faulkner or Thoreau. Curt Gowdy denoted quality and courtesy. Ken Coleman played his voice like a violin. Other Red Sox announcers include Bob Murphy and Jim Woods via Ken Harrelson and Sean McDonough to Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, Don Orsillo, and Jerry Remy. In 2004, when the Sox won their first World Series since 1918, Castiglione asked Red Sox Nation: “Can you believe it?” Many can’t, even now.
Curt Smith is a lifelong Soxaphile, student of America’s “Most Beloved Ballpark,” and author whose books include the classic Voices of The Game. Mercy!‘s highlights include Gowdy’s mid-century prepotency; how Vin Scully might have been the Red Sox Voice; Martin and Woods becoming a beloved radio duo; their calamitous 1978 firing; and Fenway’s last-decade renovation — New England’s cathedral, rebuilt pew by pew.
Mercy! weaves players from Babe Ruth to David Ortiz, pre-mid-century Voices like Fred Hoey and Jim Britt, and Fenway’s big-league record 800-plus game sellout streak. Riveting is Smith’s portrayal of noted Sox fans. George H.W. Bush revered his lifetime friend Ted Williams — “the greatest hitter who ever lived.” In 2001, as debate raged over Fenway’s future, former Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis told the visionary soon-to-be Sox president Larry Lucchino: “Anyone who would tear down Fenway Park should be criminally indicted.”
Bush and Dukakis may have opposed each other in the 1988 Presidential election, but Mercy! brings Sox fans together. It includes exhaustive play-by-play, dozens of marvelous photos, one anecdote after another, and three detailed appendixes, telling Fenway’s story — lauding its centennial — as perhaps no other book has.