Orsillo Bids Hub Fans Adieu

Red Sox Editorial Use OnlyThe tip of the cap is the ultimate sign of acknowledgement in baseball. As Ted Williams rounded the bases after homering in his last at-bat, the 10,000 fans at Fenway Park on that chilly September afternoon in 1960 clamored, chanted, and begged for one tip of the cap. But Williams, famously, did not oblige. Gods do not answer letters. Instead, the Splendid Splinter went into the dugout and disappeared, having said his perfect goodbye with one final swing of the bat.

If only all goodbyes could be ideal and special. Yesterday’s goodbye to Don Orsillo was.

At the conclusion of a 3-1 loss to the Indians, and Orsillo’s final broadcast in the Red Sox television booth, the Sox came out of the dugout and tipped their caps to the longtime play-by-play man. Orsillo was clearly moved by the gesture. “Unbelievably, I wave to the Red Sox for the final time,” Orsillo said, in a beautiful moment of honesty.

It’s rare for a broadcaster to have the chance to address their audience and say goodbye on their own terms. Too often, that moment doesn’t happen. I’m happy we heard from Orsillo. After 15 years of having him in our living rooms every night, it wouldn’t seem right if we didn’t get to share a goodbye.

We’ve been spoiled by Orsillo, one of the best broadcasters in the business. He has been alongside us for a decade and a half of some of the most memorable Red Sox baseball ever, and he brought us those moments with humor, passion, and grace. Who could forget the pizza throwing incident? Or his calls of so many David Ortiz walkoff home runs? All Bostonians will remember his call of Daniel Nava’s home run after the marathon bombings. We needed that moment, and Don shared that moment with us.

It just doesn’t seem right that come next April Orsillo won’t be in my living room welcoming me to Red Sox baseball. The decision NESN has made to move on from Orsillo (let’s be honest, fire Orsillo) has upset and angered Red Sox fans, evidenced by the thousands of people signing petitions to try and keep him on the job. Apparently NESN does not answer letters, either.

So last Sunday, fans at Fenway got to say goodbye, chanting Orsillo’s name after the Red Sox honored him with a video tribute. Yesterday, the team tipped their caps and said goodbye, and Orsillo said goodbye too. Like Teddy Ballgame, his last words were so exquisitely chosen.

“I’ve been asked many times…how I would like to be remembered. To be remembered at all is enough for me.”

We’ll fondly remember you, Don, how could we forget?

Matt McCarthy is the sports anchor for the Cape Cod Morning News on 107.5 WFCC and a news anchor and reporter for 99.9 The Q, Ocean 104.7, and Cape Country 104. He can also be heard on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub.

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