By Julie McCay Turner
The best people turn up in the worst weather, and today is no exception: Three Red Sox World Series trophies (2004, 2007 and 2013) arrived at First Parish with Red Sox ambassadors and their own security for today’s community open house on the Common.
The 2013 holiday season at First Parish on the Common has had a decidedly Red Sox flair, with the team’s Poet Laureate Dick Flavin addressing a holiday service on December 22 and all three World Series trophies visiting Bedford’s historic meeting house on December 26.
Flavin addressed the congregation’s 4 pm Sunday-before-Christmas celebration. The well-known TV personality, commentator and humorist recited his parody “Teddy At The Bat” that he claimed was originally delivered to Ted Williams in person when Flavin, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky traveled to Florida shortly before Williams’s death.
When the trophies arrived on December 26, First Parish opened its doors to the community so that everyone would have an opportunity to see them, take photographs with them, celebrate the season, and dream of Red Sox success in the coming season.
According to John Gibbons, First Parish’s senior minister, “Dick helped us to bring the trophies to First Parish today.” World Series trophies from 2004, 2007 and 2013 arrived at First Parish this afternoon (December 26) at 4 pm and are on view until 8 pm.
After each World Series victory, the Red Sox have made a commitment to bring their trophies to each of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts. This year they hope to visit every community in all of New England. In 2007, the World Series trophy was displayed in the Multi-Purpose room at Town Hall.
The Red Sox and First Parish: A Short History
How does a connection to the Red Sox tie to the work of a church?
Gibbons says “there is – as was said in the movie Bull Durham – a ‘Church of Baseball.’ It is a kind of New England religion. To display the trophies is like displaying the bones of a saint or the Holy Grail. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity. We’ll have hot chocolate and cookies, and we hope people will linger for holiday celebration.”
First Parish maintains a long-standing connection with baseball and the Red Sox.
- Under the leadership of First Parish Music Director Brad Conner, First Parish choirs visit the Bedford VA around the time of Opening Day each year, regaling patients with renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Casey at the Bat.” Conner has also led the National Anthem at Fenway Park.
- First Parish’s adult choir has sung the National Anthem to open games for the Lowell Spinners over the past several years. The Spinners are a Short Season-A team that has been affiliated with the Boston Red Sox since 1996.
- In June, 2009, Red Sox pitcher Bill “Space Man” Lee addressed the congregation’s final service of the year, and returned that fall to recycle wood from a tree felled outside the building’s Elm Street entrance into baseball bats.
First Parishioner Ron Green wrote about the visit: “Ya know, it ain’t every day you get this honor. … I lived through all the Eddie Brassouds, Milt Bollings, Don Buddins, Charlie Spikes and Rick Miller[s] (who we could always trade for a top line pitcher but never seemed to get it right). The curse was real and, as a native New Englander with [a] native glass half-empty outlook, [I] know another one is just a misplaced fast ball away. … My cynical fingers will know we really, really caught the prize when I can see the trophy. What a coup!”
Editor’s Note: First Parish on the Common in Bedford is a Unitarian Universalist congregation that was gathered in 1729; built its historic meeting house in 1815; and was acclaimed as a Breakthrough Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 2012. First Parish is fully accessible and is located at 75 The Great Road, Bedford, MA. To learn more about the congregation, visit its website at www.uubedford.org or call 781-275-7994.