In my job as radio broadcaster for the PawSox, I’ve become friendly with a lot of guys. Hundreds over the years. Some become big stars, others never make it to the “Show”. You become friendly with many, but friends with very few. A good friend I’ve made in baseball is Jeff Natale. You may remember Natale as a guy who was a career .298 hitter in the minor league system for Boston. You might recall that he hosted a pre-game interview segment a couple of years ago on our broadcasts called “At Bat with Nat.”
Jeff is out of baseball now. last December when I was having dinner in Boston with Jeff and his fiance Leigh, they asked me if I’d be willing to do them a favor. “Sure” I said. “What is it?” I could have guessed for days and never come up with the favor. It just wasn’t in my realm of thought. “We’d really love it if you’d be willing to marry us.” I love Jeff, but he just isn’t my type. Leigh, on the other hand… Anyhow, they were asking me to officiate at their wedding. I was honored and humbled by the request. I was concerned that I wasn’t qualified, but they assured me that I was. “Just be yourself”. They told me to do the wedding like I was broadcasting a PawSox game. Relax and have fun. Any one who found out made the jokes. “Oh Father Hyder…Hello Reverend….Would you hear my confession?” Invariably, people got around to “Wow, they must really like you to ask you to do this.” I guess so.
I have thought about the honor off and on over the last nine months. I’ve rehearsed in my head what I might say. Never really got nervous until Friday morning when I was driving up to Woodstock, Vermont. I met up with Jeff and Leigh. We had lunch and went over the ceremony. I am, by the way, a licensed Justice of the Peace in the state of Vermont for just one day, September 17, 2011. We had a smooth rehearsal Friday afternoon. After that, the rehearsal dinner. I was happy to be seated at the same table as former PawSox outfielder, Sean Danielson, one of the groomsmen, and his fiance Ashley. Great catching up with the man former PawSox manager, Ron Johnson nicknamed “Spike”. He and his childhood friend, Hunter Pence of the Phillies, have opened a baseball school in Houston.
The ceremony is this afternoon. My sermon, if you will, will be brief but hopefully poignant. I will make attempts at humor, but most importantly, I will let them know how lucky they are to have found each other. Wish me luck.