Thursday, May 17, 2012


Ever since my father died, I don't play golf very much anymore. In fact, I only play
once a year and when I do, I take just one swing and call it a day. One swing is all I need
to put a smile on my face and go home. No mulligans, no excuses, no do-overs. On May 17,
I hit one ball to honor my father who died on this day, and I do it early. Patrick J. Devlin
passed away at 6:37 a.m on May 17, 2008.

On the anniversary of his passing, I get up well before dawn and drive to the Westchester
Country Club in Harrison, New York. I make sure I allow for enough time for traffic, bad
weather, and other unpredictable things, like leaving my Big Bertha driver at home, which
I've done before. As long as I make it to the tee box at 6:37 a.m., all is good.

This first tee on the West course, which had been the home of a PGA tour event for more
than 40 years, was a special place for me and my Dad. It's where we started the countless
rounds of golf and shared truly incredible times together as father and son, but more importantly,
as best friends. As a kid who grew up with nothing on the south side of Chicago, my father
never played golf and never really spent a lot of time doing things with his Dad, who was
always working two jobs.

Playing golf with me became my father's favorite thing to do and as I grew older, it became
a special thing for me, as well. When my Dad showed up to the first tee, he was part
Rodney Dangerfield and part Arnold Palmer. He was a funny guy who loved to crack jokes
and bust the chops of the people in his foursome, including me. Caddies loved carrying my
father's bag because they knew they'd be in for an entertaining four and a half hours of golf.
He treated them as if they were one of his best friends, and they loved him for it. But after
my father teed off, he could be very competitive and intense. He was tossing clubs long
before Tiger Woods made it part of his game.

The first hole is a Par-4 and 308 yards long. Even when I was as young as 13, my father
would make me play from the back tees. Like hell if he was going to allow me from to hit
from the white tees because to him, they may as well have been the ladies. I drove the
green when I was 16 which made my Dad grin from ear to ear, and over the years, I could
pretty much get out of bed after a night on the town and drill the ball down the middle. I
couldn't explain it, there was just something special about that first hole.

After my father passed away four years ago, I wanted to do something to honor him in
a special way. I gave thought to organizing a tournament in his memory, but it just never
happened, perhaps because I was too selfish and just wanted to keep our golf memories
between him and me. Hitting a drive off the first tee at 6:37 a.m. felt like the perfect thing
to do, even if things would never always be perfect. Last year, there was a torrential
downpour that flooded the area. Staying in the comforts of my bed would've been easy,
but  that was never really an option. My father never missed a day of work in his life, no
matter how sick he was, and he was always there for us, no matter what. I had to be there
for him.

By the time I walked the 500 yards from my car to the first tee, I was beyond soaked. The
sound of rain drilling the sidewalks and cart paths echoed throughout the club, but I was the
only one who could hear it. It seemed surreal and I felt like my Dad and I were walking side
by side as we made our way to the first tee. Even without practice or playing as infrequently
as I do, I always find a way to hit the ball straight down the middle, whether there is pouring
rain or brilliant sunshine. Everything seems so right when I'm on the tee on May 17 at 6:37
a.m. because I know that my father is watching over me just as he always did when he
was alive.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


For most of us, Christmas Day only comes once a year, but for Carl Beane, it happened 81
more times during the baseball season. If the Red Sox made the playoffs, he'd get a little
extra something in his stocking. You see, Beane was the public address announcer at Fenway
Park. It was a dream job which he landed close to the age of 50. Red Sox players making
millions to play a kids game, never took the field as happy as the man who was introducing
them. Nobody or anything could wipe the grin off the face of Beane, not even a meltdown
by his beloved team when they blew a 9-0 lead to the Yankees earlier this season. Beane had a
job that he waited almost a lifetime to get and after nine years behind the mic, he was firmly
entrenched in it.

On Wednesday morning, Beane died of a heart attack while driving in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
He was just 59 years old. In a season that's been unfolding like a soap opera for the Red Sox,
the death of Beane is like a tragedy in a Greek play, except this is real. Beane was a beloved
figure around Fenway Park, a person who appeared to be an underdog all his life, finally
enjoying his greatest professional achievement. He was the Red Sox public address announcer.
In Boston, if you are employed by the Red Sox or have anything to do with them, (unless you're
John Lackey or Josh Beckett) you are looked upon in a very good light and envied by many
throughout Red Sox nation. No game started before Beane introduced the lineups and he took
an enormous amount of pride in doing it.

I first met Beane on my first tour of Boston in 1998. I'd always see him at Red Sox and Patriot
games where he'd be in the scrum of reporters holding some kind of microphone waiting
to record the same old, vanilla-flavored answers from the the athletes. He'd occasionally ask a
question or exchange small talk with a colleague, and I'd always say to myself, "That guy has
one helluva voice." After leaving Boston and coming back from Atlanta in 2004, I discovered
"that guy" was the public address announcer for the Red Sox. He had auditioned for the job a
year earlier and won the position over a number of other candidates. He wasn't just Carl Beane
anymore, he was Carl Beane, public address announcer of the Red Sox, and he loved every
minute of it. And Beane appeared to be a good luck charm for the Red Sox as they won the
World Series in 2004 and 2007.

Beane wore the two World Series rings presented to him by Red Sox ownership like the kid
who got the biggest present at Christmas. And why not? Can you imagine getting your dream
job at 50, then being considered part of not one, but two World Championship teams in Boston?
Boston is not Atlanta or Phoenix where they don't win anything, or even care about anything,
for that matter. Boston is the greatest sports city in the country with the most passionate fans
around and Beane was a part of it.

Life is cruel and it sure as heck isn't fair. Good people die way too young and bad ones get ahead
by lying, cheating, and throwing others under the bus. Carl Beane was a good guy who died
way too young. But he achieved his dream and he did things the right way. Red Sox nation will
miss him.


Before the four home run game on Tuesday night, the tape measure shots, and the demons and
drug addiction that almost derailed his life and career, Josh Hamilton was a ridiculously talented
player at a high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was on the radar of Major League scouts
as a freshman and by the time he was a senior, Hamilton didn't have to bother looking at colleges.
A major league team was going to make him an instant millionaire as soon as he was eligible for
the 1999 draft.

During the scouting process, a well-respected talent evaluator was assigned to check out Hamilton
prior to the draft. He worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and prior to the game, the front office
of the D-backs told this scout to call them after watching Hamilton play in the first inning of the
game. Hamilton was scheduled to pitch and there was some debate as to whether Hamilton's
future in the game would be as a pitcher or outfielder. The left-hander could throw the ball through
a car wash without it getting wet and he just overpowered high school hitters.

In the game the scout was watching, Hamilton's first three pitchers out of his hand were 96, 96,
and 98 miles per hour. Those are the kind of pitches that high school hitters HEAR but don't see.
Hamilton struck out the side in the top of the first inning. He batted third in the bottom of the
inning and the crushed the first pitch he saw into the trees some 450 feet away.

As per request, the scout for the D-backs made a call to the front office to let them know what
Hamilton did in the first inning. "Well, Hamilton hit 98 on the gun and struck out the side in the
first inning," the scout, in a slow, southern drawl told the people anxiously awaiting on the other
end of the line. "Then he hit a ball  that would've gone of Yellowstone Park in the bottom of
the first."

The D-backs personnel in Arizona weren't really all that surprised because they knew how
talented Hamilton was. But they pressed the scout to compare Hamilton to any other player
he's evaluated or seen in the big leagues. The scout responded, "Well, I'm not exactly sure,
to be honest with you." The front-office was incredulous that the scout couldn't come up with
at least one player that was comparable to Hamilton. "Come on," demanded the man on the
other end of the line. "There has to be someone who Hamilton compares to." There was silence
on the other end for a few seconds.

"Well, I'd have to say Babe Ruth."

True, very true.