This article was written by Bill Nowlin
This article was published in the 1967 Boston Red Sox essays
There is a lengthy tradition of Red Sox booster clubs, ranging from the Royal Rooters to the Winter League and the Red Sox Half Century Club. The most venerable of all, though, is the BoSox Club, founded in early 1967.There is a lengthy tradition of Red Sox booster clubs, ranging from the Royal Rooters to the Winter League and the Red Sox Half Century Club — even a World War II era organization of bleacherites named “We the People Speak” which held a number of annual meetings. Then there are the BLOHARDS in New York — the Benevolent Loyal Order of Honorable and Ancient Red Sox Diehard Sufferers. The most venerable of all, though, is the BoSox Club, founded in early 1967.
Ken Coleman helped found the new club, when he came here from Cleveland. As Ken explained in a December 2001 interview, “I was a member of the Wahoo Club in Cleveland, an Indians booster club. When I came to Boston I spoke with Bill Crowley, the public relations director of the Red Sox and told him about the Wahoo Club and what they were doing. In 1966, the Red Sox weren’t doing well at all. So we got a group of people together up in the old press room at Fenway and we put in a call to Gabe Paul and Al Rosen on a speaker phone.” The two Indians execs explained how the Wahoo Club worked, and Coleman’s group founded the BoSox Club. The club has grown over time, and numbers over 850 members at the present time.
Dominic DiMaggio was voted the first president of the club, and the first meetings were usually held at Boston’s Somerset Hotel. In later years, monthly luncheons were held during the season at Anthony’s Pier Four, site of the very first luncheon. In the early 21st century, the venue shifted to the Newton Boston Marriott Hotel.
The club was organized early in 1967 at a meeting of some “50 prominent Boston businessmen” who met in the Fenway Park press room. Some 35 of those assembled became charter members. The original officers were, aside from President DiMaggio, Brad Jernegan as vice president and treasurer, Larry Polans as secretary, and Edward Hanify and Truman Casner as legal advisers. The other directors were Bernard Ballwin, Dean Boylan, Bob Cheyne, Tom Feenan, Jim Kelso, and Clarence March. The club’s first luncheon was a Welcome Home to the Red Sox luncheon held on April 10 at Anthony’s Pier Four, the day before the home opener. Some 260 members and their guests attended the luncheon and heard Dick Williams introduce the entire Red Sox squad, and outline his plans for the 1967 season.
The club’s second meeting, at the Somerset on May 19, drew 120 members, and heard from Cleveland manager Joe Adcock and Sam McDowell, as well as Ken Coleman interviewing Dick Williams and George Scott. Luncheons were also scheduled for May 31, June 13, July 17, August 2, August 22, September 1, September 15, and September 29.
Coleman recalled the commitment manager Dick Williams showed in the club’s launch year: “The first year that we had them on a regular basis, Dick Williams never missed a meeting. He was at every one of them.” At their first meeting in 1968, the Club gave Williams an admiral’s chair for outstanding cooperation in community relations. Rico Petrocelli was given their first “Most Underrated Player” award.
On August 25, 2002, a plaque was placed on the exterior of Fenway Park honoring the 35th anniversary of the BoSox Club. The Springfield Republican’s Garry Brown asked Dom DiMaggio whether it was good karma that the Red Sox won the pennant the very year the Red Sox won their first pennant in 21 years. “I don’t know. Maybe our club spurred them on,” DiMaggio allowed.
The club kicked off 1968 by expanding the board, adding Eddie Pellagrini, Ted Lepcio, and Dick Casey. Ken Coleman was named an honorary member of the board. The club maintained its offices at Fenway Park. By the club’s third annual organizational meeting, held January 10, 1969, it had grown so significantly that membership was cut off at 540 members.
Over the years, the BoSox Club has prospered, with an active schedule of players and team personnel both from the Red Sox and visiting ballclubs. The club has also been active in providing a number of scholarships, Family Day programs, road trips to Red Sox minor league affiliates and away games, and annual spring training gatherings.
The current membership includes die-hard Red Sox fans from all over New England (and beyond). It is the largest officially sponsored baseball booster club in the world.
The club’s mission statement declares that it is “first and foremost an organization of the fans, by the fans and for the fans…formed to promote baseball at all levels and to assist the Boston Red Sox in community and charitable endeavors. Traditionally, the BoSox Club has raised funds both inside and outside its membership to support many worthy causes including the Red Sox Foundation, the Jimmy Fund and New England Little League organizations. The BoSox Club is also instrumental in proving seating for challenged fans at Fenway Park through the Challenger Program, and provides financial assistance to a select group of deserving athletes to attend the Mike Andrews Baseball Camp each summer.” Members of the club volunteer in a number of ways around the ballpark, helping staff Autograph Alley and welcoming new visitors to Fenway during playoff seasons.
Current club president Ed Keohane says “The club is open to anyone who enjoys the thrill of the game, who is responsive to the charitable needs of the community, and enjoys the company of a group of people who can talk knowledgably about baseball. The club has a web site, www.bosoxclub.com where you can receive further information or apply for membership.”
Note: This brief article was originally written in October 2006. The club remains active, and Ed’s words still hold true. In December 2015, the author became a member of the board of directors of the BoSox Club. In 2017, the BoSox Club celebrated its 50th anniversary. Bill Nowlin has written a book on the subject: “The BoSox Club: 50 Years” (Rounder Books).
BILL NOWLIN was one of the first fans to the mound when Jim Lonborg induced the final out and the Red Sox won the 1967 pennant. He was elected as SABR’s Vice President in 2004 and re-elected for five more terms before stepping down in 2016, when he was elected as a Director. He is also the author of dozens of books on the Red Sox or Red Sox players, including “Ted Williams At War” and “Love That Dirty Water: The Standells and the Improbable Victory Anthem of the Boston Red Sox” (both from Rounder Books.) He has written Johnny Pesky’s biography (Mr. Red Sox) and co-edited a series of Red Sox “team books” written by numerous SABR authors that focus on different years when the Red Sox fielded exceptional teams, including: ‘”75: The Red Sox Team that Saved Baseball” (2005); “The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox” (2007); “When Boston Had The Babe: The 1918 Red Sox” (2008); and “Lefty, Double-X, and The Kid: The 1939 Red Sox, a Team in Transition” (2009). He is also co-founder of Rounder Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He’s traveled to more than 100 countries, but says there’s no place like Fenway Park.