There were times we would talk about the Red Sox or something that was going on in baseball, but invariably he would return to the pit before long. It was his refuge.
RÃ©my, who died Saturday, October 30 at the age of 68, had a complicated relationship with the celebrity.
He was one of us, born in Somerset and moving from the muddy fields of Southeast Massachusetts to majors with the California Angels before being traded to the Sox in 1977.
Jerry played the second playoff goal in a game against the Yankees in 1978, going 2 for 4 with one run. He was on first base when Carl Yastrzemski moved up to third to finish.
Once he became a host, Remy was irreverent and prone to bursts of laughter that made him endearing to viewers. Sox fans may have liked Nomar, Papi and Pedey, but they only knew them from afar.
Jerry was part of the family, showing up in their living room every night during the season to talk a bit about baseball.
But he drew his own line. At the end of the game, Remy would rush out of the press box to a waiting elevator and be taken downstairs, where he could jump in his car and avoid traffic to get home.
Woe to the unsuspecting elevator operator who made stops along the way.
Some former Red Sox players – Luis Tiant comes to mind – are comfortable with the fans and revel in the attention. Remy liked that this relationship came through your television.
He didn’t often do autograph shows, make personal appearances, or even go out to dinner with friends. You have what he decided to give you.
But at the same time, Remy has publicly shared news of his bouts of depression and lung cancer that ultimately claimed his life, hoping it would help others, and it sure is.
It took a while, but he even opened up about the horrific crime his son, Jared, committed in 2013 when he murdered his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel.
My colleague, the late Nick Cafardo, convinced Remy that this had to be part of a book they made together. Remy was hesitant at first but finally agreed.
Beneath all the laughs on TV, the character of RemDawg and the myriad of business interests on his behalf, there was turmoil and sadness.
Remy has battled lung cancer for much of the past 13 years, missing parts of five seasons while receiving treatment for relapses.
“The toughest SOB I’ve ever been to,” said a colleague from NESN.
Members of the media, even Jerry, were banned from the clubhouse in 2020 when the pandemic hit, and NESN decided to broadcast matches from their Watertown studio.
This suited Remy, who didn’t want his compromised lungs subjected to COVID-19. But Fenway was fiercely missing.
Alex Cora, like other Sox managers before him, welcomed Remy to the clubhouse. Remy would pull up a chair and go through a bunch of statistics or read the newspapers while chatting with the players. He was one of them, after all.
NESN finally decided it was safe to bring the advertisers back to the park, and Remy may have arrived at Fenway before breakfast on that first day.
Then the cancer came back.
While attached to oxygen, Remy gathered his strength to throw the first pitch before the Wild Card Game against the Yankees on October 5.
He drove a golf cart across the course, teased Dennis Eckersley about his long hair, and then struck his old friend, teammate and broadcast partner.
Remy raised his arms in joy and the crowd went wild.
It was his last time at Fenway.