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Tommy Cremens; friendship with Sox, community went deep

Mr. Cremens built lifetime friendships with Red Sox players. Mr. Cremens built lifetime friendships with Red Sox players.
By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / September 17, 2011

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When Tommy Cremens, a red-haired teenager from Somerville, worked as Red Sox clubhouse and bat boy in the mid-1970s, it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with outfielder Bernie Carbo, pitcher Bill Lee, and several other players who were part of the team’s 1975 World Series showdown with the Cincinnati Reds.

Carbo and Lee were so fond of Mr. Cremens that during one West Coast road trip they drove to Hurricane Ridge in Washington where the trio walked among the wildflowers and took in the magnificent view.

“Tommy said it was one of the most memorable days of his life,’’ Lee said.

Mr. Cremens was best man at Carbo’s wedding in 1994 and his right-hand man at Carbo’s Diamond Club Ministry Fantasy Camp.

He also was clubhouse attendant for the Winter Haven Super Sox of the Florida Senior League and that team’s New England barnstorming troupe, the Grey Sox, 20 years ago.

Mr. Cremens, who worked in various positions for Northwest Airlines at Logan Airport, including as a baggage handler and a deicer of planes, and was employed in the maintenance department of the Winchester public schools, died Sept. 11 at Boston Medical Center of injuries suffered the previous day in a fall from a ladder at his home in Woburn. The former Somerville High football captain was 52.

“When I played with the Red Sox, Tommy used to invite me to his parents’ home for dinner,’’ Carbo said. “Now I’m godfather to his younger daughter Abigail. Our families are like one.’’

A 1977 graduate of Somerville High School, Mr. Cremens received his bachelor’s degree in management in 1987 from the University of Massachusetts Boston. He was captain of that school’s varsity lacrosse team.

Mr. Cremens, a Woburn resident for more than 20 years, was known in the community for being willing to pitch in when neighbors needed a helping hand. The annual Christmas party at his home was a neighborhood tradition.

Mr. Cremens held youth lacrosse clinics for many years in several communities, mainly northwest of Boston, and was formerly boys’ lacrosse coach at Matignon High of Cambridge. He played summer league basketball in Cambridge and ice hockey in Waltham with his older brother, Joe, who resides in Medford.

“All the Red Sox could count on him,’’ Joe Cremens said. “He would take Carl Yastrzemski’s mother shopping. Yaz would just give him the car keys. Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey respected Tommy’s work ethic and loved him like a son. And he could always find Jim Rice’s favorite takeout meal.’’

Mr. Cremens’s cousin, attorney Ken Lakin of Lexington, said Mr. Cremens “always had a smile on his face.’’

“He had boundless energy, and he took great pride in his wife and daughters,’’ Lakin said. “And he always shared his Red Sox memorabilia with family and friends.’’

The collection includes the old Grey Sox uniforms, worn by former major league players including Boston’s Carbo, Bob Stanley, Bill Buckner, Roger Moret, Mario Guerrero, and Dave Stapleton.

“Tommy started out at Fenway Park cleaning up and polishing shoes, and when Al Forester used to drive the cart in from the bullpen, Tommy would take my warm-up jacket,’’ said Lee, who resides in Craftsbury Common, Vt.

“I used to play ball with Tommy’s friends, and we all loved him. He was fiery and tough, and he could give out the barbs as well as take them,’’ added Lee, who, as general manager of the Winter Haven Super Sox and the Grey Sox, made sure Mr. Cremens handled the clubhouse.

“You build a team starting with your catcher and your clubbie,’’ said Lee.

Carbo, who lives in Theodore, Ala., said Mr. Cremens and his wife, Kathy, attended the wedding of Carbo’s son last year in Mobile, Ala.

“Tommy was a big brother to my children from my first marriage, and he also became part of my grandchildren’s lives,’’ said Carbo. “He gave a lot of love to a lot of people, and they gave it back to him.’’

Lakin, on behalf of the Cremens family, thanked the Woburn first responders and all medical personnel for their efforts after the accident.

“This is a great loss for us, his friends, and our community,’’ Lakin said. His law firm, Lakin & Lakin, located in Methuen, is forming a foundation in Mr. Cremens’s name to benefit his wife and children.

In addition to his brother, Joe, daughter Abigail, and wife, Kathleen (Snider), Mr. Cremens leaves his other daughter, Jillian; and five sisters, Mary Maher of Waltham, Ellen Cremens of Medford, Cathy Fico of Cambridge, Margaret Casey of Medford, and Elizabeth Parks of Malibu, Calif.

A funeral mass will be held today at 10 a.m. at St. Charles Church in Woburn. Interment will be at the Cambridge Cemetery.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.