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What has he unleashed?

`RemDawg' site is wildly popular

By Bill Griffith
Globe Columnist / May 23, 2004

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It was a few weeks ago that John O'Rourke realized just how out of control things were spinning in the world of the RemDawg. O'Rourke, the day-to-day administrator of Jerry Remy's website (www.theremyreport.com), was in the process of adding some RemDawggie items -- collars, leashes, dog bowls, placemats, bandannas -- to the merchandise sold on the site when e-mails started coming in asking, "What about the RemCats?"

"Where's this all going?" he wondered.

Since the site began just before last season, with Remy selling autographed copies of his scorecards from Red Sox games, things have burgeoned. RemDawg baseball caps and T-shirts followed, at the request of website visitors. The message board, which was added last May 12, has since moved to a higher-capacity host server. Now, regular posters chat during games, and several hundred came from as far away as Pennsylvania for a "Dinner with the Dawg" last September. Another 280 joined message board moderator Trisha Saintelus on Mother's Day at Fenway Park.

It'll only be a matter of time before they work up another get-together.

Meanwhile, Remy's book, "Watching Baseball," was No. 1 on the list of local bestsellers (paperback nonfiction) though it dropped to No. 6 this weekend. It's a reflection of the market that both Remy and Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione ("Broadcast Rites and Sites") have books in print.

"The book's reception has been a real pleasant surprise," said Remy. "You never know what's going to happen when you put yourself out there like that." Now, he's thinking of doing an updated version after this season. TheRemyReport may be a website, but it generated so much merchandising business for the Weston Post Office that the postmaster presented Remy with a plaque and now sends a truck to pick up the outgoing mail.

"We're getting 3,000 unique users on the site every day," said O'Rourke. In addition, the number of registered posters on the message board is nearing 1,000, with many times that reading those posts.

As the site grew, Remy tried to answer all e-mails personally. It's no longer possible, though he still does "the best I can. And I read them all. It gives me a good sense of how the fans are feeling."

He figured the site would quiet down in the offseason; instead, the Hot Stove League and Christmas shopping actually increased traffic.

The devotion of Sox fans remains a constant amazement to Remy.

"Plus, they're good people and keep a positive tone on the message board," he said. "Visiting the site is part of their day."

So is the association with Remy.

"He's a celebrity even though he doesn't consider himself one," said Saintelus. "He makes the games fun on the air, and he's given us access as fans to chat with the owners, other broadcasters, and even a player [Curt Schilling]."

Where is it all headed? Rourke, a close friend of Remy for the past 20 years, isn't sure. But as a veteran of the corporate world (former president of Puma USA), he's taking it one advance at a time.

And enjoying the ride.

A national leaguer

Fox already has asked Remy to add to his workload. He'll join Kenny Albert to call two Sox national games on the network: Next Saturday vs. Seattle and June 26 vs. the Phillies . . . Channel 4's Steve Burton has a lengthy interview with Patriots cornerback Ty Law on tonight's "Sports Final" at 11:30. It's a natural follow-up to last Sunday's session with Law's agents, Carl and Kevin Poston . . . If struggling players go to the videotape, Sox pitcher Derek Lowe has no better footage to watch than his two-strikeout, ALDS-clinching relief appearance against the Athletics last fall. Dan Roche, host of "Red Sox This Week" (tonight at 10:30 on Channel 38, and Channel 4 at midnight), sat down with Lowe (before Thursday night's game in Tampa Bay) and relived the outing. Lowe is scheduled to face the Athletics again Wednesday . . . Comcast's digital subscribers will be able to access highlights of the Stanley Cup finals, which begin Tuesday, via "On Demand." ESPN has Games 1-2, with ABC carrying the remainder of the series. All broadcasts will be available in high definition . . . NESN will air eight minor league games this season, beginning tomorrow when Eric Frede and Bob Tewksbury call the Portland Sea Dogs-Binghamton Mets game at 6 p.m. . . . NBA Finals? They're a series away. TNT has Game 2 of the Western finals (Lakers at Timberwolves) tonight at 8:30, going head-to-head with Cubs-Cardinals "Sunday Night Baseball" on ESPN at 8 p.m.

An American in Paris

Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive vice president of programming and production, says French Open tennis signals the start of summer. The network starts 88 hours of coverage (52 1/2 live) tomorrow from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. ESPN2 has the morning session, switching off to ESPN in the noon hour each day this week. Dick Enberg comes to ESPN on lend-lease from CBS, where he already calls the US Open, the one major not covered by ESPN. Enberg will call a match per day in Paris and also do his "Enberg Moments." At Wimbledon, he'll also participate in a new one-hour morning show. ESPN asked CBS for permission to use Enberg in Europe this summer at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Enberg then surprised his new bosses by volunteering for Australian Open duty come January. "I've never been to Australia," he said. "At my age [69], to be able to work a full Grand Slam is something I'd like to have at the back of my book." . . . HBO had 360,000 buys at $49.95 for last Saturday's Antonio Tarver-Roy Jones Jr. bout. The math says that added $18 million to the fight's gross . . . The Belmont Stakes is two weeks away, but NBC can't wait. Smarty Jones's Preakness victory last Saturday drew an audience of 15 million, a 25 percent increase over the 12 million who watched Funny Cide's victory last year.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is griffith@globe.com

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