LOOKING FOR A FITTING TRIBUTE TO BEN MONDOR
Let me preface this by saying that I am not acting on behalf of the PawSox as I write this blog. I am doing so after seeing the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul packed to the rafters as Ben Mondor was laid to rest last week. There were “dignitaries” on hand. Theo Epstein. Governor Carcieri and I.L. President Randy Mobley to name a few. Former players like Frank Malzone, Bob Montgomery and Sam Bowen filled the pews of the church. Current PawSox player Aaron Bates and his girlfriend, Miss Massachusetts, USA, Lacey Wilson drove down from Boston. There is no way I could even begin to tell you who else was there. It was a full house. One last time, Ben Mondor packed them in, as he did for decades at McCoy Stadium. There were countless PawSox fans there to pay tribute. Faces that I have seen at the ballpark. I don’t know all their names, but I sure recognized dozens of faces at the service. Ben would have appreciated that. He was a man of the people.
I was a guest on the Helen Glover Show on our flagship station 920 WHJJ. Helen asked me to share my memories of Ben, which I was more than happy to do. I had gathered my thoughts and thought of a few stories I could tell. As I was about to go on the air, she started playing Louis Armstrongs’ classic “What a Wonderful World.” That started to choke me up a bit, since Kevin Galligan had put up a video tribute to Ben on PawSox.com with that very song as the background. Fortunately for me, I was able to compose myself and go ahead with the interview. Helen asked me an interesting question. “Would McCoy Stadium be renamed in Bens’ honor?” Honestly, I didn’t know. It is more than well deserved. I don’t know all the details, but I had heard that Ben rejected the idea when it was proposed after the renovation in the late nineties. He did concede to the naming of Ben Mondor Way, a street that leads to the park. The renaming of the ”House That Ben Built” would be a lasting tribute. I could also envision a statue of Ben, maybe out in front of the ticket office. A smiling Ben, maybe handing tickets to a young child. That is what he was all about. Ironically, former I.L. President Harold Cooper (The Ben Mondor of Columbus, Ohio) has a statue erected in his honor at the new Huntington Park, the Clippers’ home. Sadly, Cooper died at just about the same time Ben passed.
Ben Mondor was a man who didn’t like hoopla when it came to him. I am sure the PawSox will celebrate his life fittingly. MIke Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer learned for over three decades from Ben. Even though he might not have approved, it would be the right thing to do. I’d love to hear your ideas for a Mondor tribute. Something as simple as a patch for the 2011 uniform or as elaborate as you can come up with. Please submit your ideas here. Thanks!