Ted Schmidt finds youth again in role with Red Sox
KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 7, 2008 – The names roll off Ted Schmidt’s tongue with ease, as if he had just watched his first-ever game at Fenway Park yesterday.
It was 1946, and Boston’s starting lineup had Rudy York at first base, Bobby Doerr at second, Johnny Pesky at shortstop and Pinky Higgins at third base. Hal Wagner was behind the plate, and across the outfield were left fielder Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio in center and Catfish Metkovich in right field.
Catfish Metkovich? Who remembers Catfish Metkovich?
The former University of Rhode Island professor’s long experience as a Boston Red Sox fan played a major role in his being named the first Rhode Island Governor of Red Sox Nation – the team’s official fan club – in July.
Saunderstown’s Schmidt, 73, was named to the post in July after he filled out an online form and went through an interview process with team officials. After choosing former Boston player and current broadcaster Jerry Remy as president earlier this year, Red Sox Nation sought gubernatorial candidates for each state in the country, starting with the six New England states.
As part of his duties, Schmidt – the founding director of the Schmidt Labor Research Center on the Kingston campus – will reach out to other fans to build membership in Rhode Island’s branch of the Nation. Each governor must also help plan and organize a Red Sox viewing party for their respective state. According to www.redsox.com, there are 2,269 Rhode Islanders signed up, and more than 50,000 members worldwide.
Schmidt also will participate in regular conference calls with the other governors to discuss feedback and ideas from their respective constituents.
“Since this started, I have received emails and heard from many of people,” Schmidt said. Most of them are Rhode Islanders, but a lot are from other areas as well. I enjoy being involved with other people who are passionate about the Red Sox and baseball.”
A lifelong educator, one of Schmidt’s goals is to start Red Sox study circles for fans in the state. Based on a Swedish form of education, groups would pick various baseball topics to study, and then share their findings with other fans. He’d also like to start branches of Red Sox Nation on each of the college campuses in the state.
As part of his new post, Schmidt was involved in the Rhode Island Day festivities at Fenway Park on Sunday, Aug. 3. A portion of his pre-game interview with reporter Heidi Watney was aired on NESN (New England Sports Network) that day.
“I became 13 years old again,” Schmidt said. “It was like going back to my childhood, which is the advantage of being a Red Sox fan, or a baseball fan in general, for that matter.
“The intensity of my work at the University or in arbitration could get very heavy at times. The Red Sox are a source of relaxation. Baseball and the Sox provide outlets for everything else.”
Schmidt has a room in his home dedicated to his Red Sox memorabilia. His favorite piece? The 10-cent program from the first professional game he attended with his father, a Boston Braves doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds in which Reds pitcher Bucky Walters hit two home runs.
Another piece of memorabilia is a program from the Oneonta Red Sox of the old Canadian American League. The program is signed by several players, including former Red Sox great Frank Malzone, who starred for Oneonta before being called up to Boston. Malzone’s deceased wife, Amy, was a close friend of Schmidt’s wife, Phyllis, at the time.
The walls of the room are overloaded with photographs, posters and other memorabilia. There are figurines of the key players from the 2004 team that won the first World Series in 86 years. There is a copy of The Providence Journal sports page from April 18, 1916 hanging on the wall just inside the entrance. The page – a gift from Scott Molloy, URI professor of labor and industrial relations – features a photo of the previous day’s winning pitcher for Boston, an ex-Providence Grays pitcher by the name of Babe Ruth.
“My history with the Red Sox goes back to 1946, that was my team,” Schmidt said. “There are people I have met who go back further, and others who know more about the more recent years. We all help each other learn more about this team that we love.”
Ted Schmidt. URI Department of Communications photo by Joe Giblin
"Video used withpermission from New England Sports Network."