McGILLIGAN: For the longest time I had pictured a photo of Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell on the cover of my most prized and oddest piece of sports memorabilia.
In fact, when we created this blog, I referenced the magazine in question and wrote Greenwell as being on the cover.
I was wrong; the man on the cover is Tom Brunansky.
Funny how time changes things, but none the less here’s how I ended up with oddest autograph of my sports-loving life.
It was Friday, Sept. 28, 1990 and I definitely should have been in school. However, my Dad thought a different sort of education was needed, so off to Boston we had gone to watch the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays.
Boston was up one game in the AL East in the waning days of a pennant race and Fenway was packed with more than 35,000 fans. We got to the park early to watch batting practice. My sister was in love with Toronto’s mullet-headed third baseman Kelly Gruber and we desperately wanted autographs from the players.
We were on the third base side of the field along with some other Canadian fans and a TSN camera crew.
A few of the guys were yelling out to the TSN reporter calling him Chris Sedens, but it was Gino Reda.
After finishing an on-field interview, he came over to talk with the Canadian fans. I remember knowing who he was, even at 10 I was sports crazy and watched a lot of TSN. As a 10-year-old, he had the coolest job I could think of. As a 31-year-old, he has the coolest job I can think of.
Anyway, he talked with the fans and asked where everyone was from. My dad mentioned we had driven nine hours to come see the game and Gino saw that as some serious dedication.
My sister and I asked him if he could get some players to come sign our programs. To this day the next few moments are confusing.
I don’t remember asking him to sign my program, neither does my sister. Dad believes that he misheard our request for player autographs and thought we asked for his.
Next thing I know, my program was in Gino’s hands and he signed it ‘To Andrew, Thanks for making the long trip. Gino Reda.’
The program cost my dad $1.75 and it’s the best sports investment I’ve ever been a part of.
As a 10-year-old, I wanted to be Wade Boggs when I got to Fenway that day, but after two games, part of me left wanting to do what Gino did.
Years later, I became a sports reporter for a few years and it was the best part of my time as a working journalist.
So I can credit a good portion of my love for sports journalism and part of my professional career to Gino Reda and skipping school to watch baseball.