ARNIE’S ARMY SET TO GO TO WAR

     The PawSox will play for a third diffferent manager in as many seasons when they take the field at McCoy Stadium in April.  Ron Johnson finished a five year stint in Pawtucket and was replaced by Torey Lovullo for 2009 when RJ moved up to Boston as first base coach for the Red Sox.  Lovullo will take the same position with Toronto, working with new manager, John Farrell, north of the border.  The Sox have promoted 46 year old Arnie Beyeler from AA Portland to AAA Pawtucket.

     I spoke on the phone with Arnie the other day, not to interview him, but to introduce myself and welcome him to the PawSox family.  After all, we will be spending a lot of time together, starting in late March in Fort Myers.  There will be plenty of time to interview the skipper then.  Beyeler had been on a whirlwind since his promotion.  Beyeler had just returned to the United States from South America where he was coaching in Winter Ball.  Arnie expressed gratitude to the Red Sox organization for the confidence they had shown in him.  He added that he was looking forward to meeting the people of Pawtucket when he came to town in a couple of weeks.  While he was looking forward to the job, when we spoke, he was really looking forward to spending Christmas in Ponte Vedra, Florida, with his children.  Seems like a very nice guy.  He has big shoes to fill in that department.  This will be my eighth season with the PawSox and I’ve had the extreme pleasure of working with RJ and Torey as well as Buddy Bailey in 2004.  Nonetheless, I look forward to it very much.

     Speaking of RJ,  lately there have been some stories published which have shed some light on his absence from the coaches box the final third of 2010.  While I have known the reason since it happened, I kept it quiet out of respect for the Johnson family.  We all did because of our deep admiration for Ron and his wife Daphne, and their kids.  Their youngest daughter, Bridget was involved in an horrific accident while horseback riding near their home in Tennesee.  It was an automobile accident that killed the horse she was riding and severed her leg, near the knee.  After attempts to re-attach the limb and countless surgeries, Bridget is home.  She is doing great and is scheduled to be fitted for a prosthetic leg soon.  RJ has been a pillar of strength for his family.  He refuses to look at anything but the bright side.  “Heck Hydes” he told me, “We are blessed.  ‘Bridgy’ is alive.  No internal injuries, no brain damage.  She is alive and that’s a miracle.”  Bridget is tough.  She has refused to use a wheel chair and is determined to ride a horse again. Joe McDonald of ESPN Bosston recently travelled to the Johnsons’ home and did a feature which will be on the website soon.  I encourage everyone to read it.  No one gets to the heart of a story like my man “Joey Mac”.  

     I wish the Johnsons, and all my friends a Happy 2011.  2010 was a bittersweet year.  We lost our dear friend, Ben Mondor.  McCoy Stadium will never be the same.  Time marches on, however.  It is up to us to carry on his legacy, doing things the “PawSox” way.  I have always relished my role as a good-will ambassador for the PawSox.  It may sound cliche, but I think you’ll agree.  We could use some Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men and Women.  Happy New Year!  Let’s hope it’s the best ever.   

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