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Starting with sardines

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  September 17, 2010 05:11 PM

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So this feels a little weird. Sort of like those awkward sitcom crossovers where Ray Romano drops in on Kevin James on King of Queens. Anyway, I’ll try not to mess things up too much in the Extra Bases space.

The Raptors Blue Jays are in town. But let’s lead off with Terry Francona’s media pregame, which started out in maybe the most random way possible thanks to the Worcester Telegram’s Bill Ballou.

Ballou: Do you like sardines?

Francona: Huh?

Ballou: Do you like sardines?

Francona: No, I hate ‘em. Are they endangered?

Ballou: Jimmy Piersall’s here and he played with your dad and he remembered your dad loving sardines.

Francona couldn’t remember his dad eating sardines at the dinner table. Ballou said maybe it was just a clubhouse habit. Then the Piersall stories come rolling out. Because his stories are the stuff books and movies are made of.

Francona told the one about how his dad, Tito, broke into the big leagues.

“The story probably gets embellished, which a lot of baseball stories do,” Francona said. “But Jimmy didn’t want to play. Whether he was hurt, whether it was shadows. That’s something that was up for debate. But my dad played center field that day. Never looked back. That was the year he hit .363.”

Piersall spent nine seasons in Boston.

“I think Jimmy’s pretty dear to [my dad],” Francona said. “I called my dad today and he said, ‘Make sure you give him my best.’ My dad’s got some of the best Piersall stories. I don’t know if they’re true or not. But they’re great stories. I’ve heard ‘em and heard ‘em and heard ‘em. They never get old.”

More to come …

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