March 24, 2005
JUST BE CAREFUL A-ROD DOESN'T KNOCK YOUR HAND AWAY (via Rick Turley):
Kids to Sox, Yankees: Take bitter out of rivalry (Lenny Megliola, March 23, 2005, Boston Herald)
The phone rang in the Merriam School office two weeks ago. The caller asked for Ed Kaufman or Mary Ann Brandt.Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2005 7:59 AM
``Sorry,'' said secretary Diane Walsh, ``they're in class. Who's calling? Terry Francona? No really, who's calling?''
Then again, Walsh thought, knowing what was going on at the school, it just might be the Red Sox manager. Walsh put the caller on hold and dialed up Brandt's sixth-grade class. ``I think you'd better take this one,'' Walsh said.
Brandt did. It was Francona. ``I said to the kids, `Don't scream, but do you know who's on the line? Terry Francona!' They screamed.''
The manager of the World Champions was impressed with the kids' goal for the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry to lighten up a little bit. ``Francona said, `You know, this is a fantastic idea, but I hate to disappoint you. I can't make these guys do this,' '' Brandt recalls.
Do what? Have the Red Sox and Yankees shake hands, that's what.
Brandt, a passionate Red Sox fan, and Kaufman, a lifelong Yankees fan, had become concerned just how bitter the rivalry between the two teams had become and the effects it might have on kids.
``The name-calling, the fighting, the jumping into bullpens,'' said Kaufman, who teaches fifth grade. He and Brandt started discussing the nastiness of the two teams with their students. Some figured that's just who the Red Sox and Yankees are: teams that hate each other.
But what about the kids? Didn't they shake hands after games? They started thinking. ``If we can do it, why can't they?'' said Kaufman.
And so began Project Handshake. The classes wrote to Francona, Jason Varitek, Red Sox owner John Henry, general manager Theo Epstein, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, manager Joe Torre, general manager Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter with one request: that the two teams shake hands before or after the game on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium April 3, or when the two teams met April 11 in the Fenway Park opener.