Here is part two of my conversation with Red Sox Hall of Famer, Rico Petrocelli. While Rico was at McCoy for Legends Night last Friday, he spoke about the differences in the game , comparing now, to his day as an All Star. “Free agency is one thing. Salaries. Marketing has changed greatly, too. The Red Sox paid a lot of money for the club. They spend more on advertising for the team. Inside and out of the ballpark. There’s a lot more media. National coverage and local coverage. every time a player makes a mistake, or does something the wrong way, on or off the field, it’s big headlines. We had some of that, there’s no doubt about it, but not like today. There’s a lot of pressure on these guys and we expect a lot from them. It’s probably because of the money. They’re not going to have great years every single year. Sometimes you have to be patient.”
Petrocelli scoffed at the notion that todays’ Red Sox clubhouse was “toxic”. He thought back and remembered the reports that he and his teammates didn’t get along. Rico was quick to dispel the rumor, that in his day, the Sox were dysfunctional. It was not ’25 guys, 25 cabs’. “No. Somebody made that up. Somebody got mad at Rick Burleson one day in the clubhouse and the 25 cabs thing came out the next day. Burleson was a fiery guy, kind of emotional. They came in and someone tried to ask him a question. He lost it and threw his glove and his helmet. He cursed at him and the next thing you knew, he had cleared the clubhouse. The next day, the cabs thing started. Listen, I would tell you if it was true. It was a lot of bull. There were past years where there were problems in the clubhouse, but not with these guys. That was foolish. These guys eventually became the 1975 team. We were very close. Many of those guys- (Carlton) Fisk, (Rick) Burleson, (Fred) Lynn, (Jim) Rice, (Dwight) Evans. They all came up together through the Red Sox minor league system. They were good friends.”
After enduring two World Series losses himself (1967, 1975), Rico was thrilled when the Sox reversed the curse in 2004. “It felt great. I really was happy, as were all the other former players I talked with. When they had the celebration after they won, nearly every guy, including the ownership said it was not only for this years’ team and fans, but also for the teams and players of the past who came so close. There were great teams and great players. This was also for them. So I said My God. I got chills. I couldn’t believe it. To include us in it was fabulous.”
Some of his fondest memories included the silent leadeship of Carl Yastrzemski and the train trip to Kansas City that was necessitated by an airline strike. “We had laughs. Jose Tartabull and Jose Santiago…we were singing, going from car to car like little kids. It was great. It was a riot.” Singing wasn’t Petrocellis’ only musical skill. He once played the drums on a record album recorded by late Red Sox organist, John Kiley. “I didn’t know it was going to be recorded. We went in to have a little fun. John started playing these songs and I was banging on the drums a little bit. It wasn’t even a full set, no cymbals, or anything. the next thing I knew, an album was out, with a cover and everything. They sold it at the ballpark. It was a thrill to play with him. He was a great musician. I played the drums for about 25 years. Now I play piano. I always loved piano.” I can say with absolute certainty, that at least one album was sold. I bought it at the souvenir stand at Fenway Park at least 40 years ago.