My fondest memory from working on Smoky Joe Wood was the day I spent with the Wood family at Fenway Park in August 2008, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Smoky Joe’s first major league game. The weather was fine. We had the run of the upstairs restaurant and met officials of the team. After the game we sat in the Sox dugout and walked the warning track, playing in front of the Green Monster. It was one of the last times I spent with Bob Wood, the youngest son and flame-keeper of the Smoky Joe legend.
A close second in my history with Joe Wood occurred in just the past two weeks. It began with a return to Fenway Park, where my wife, Edra Wood, and I joined two grandchildren of Joe and Laura, Durinda Wood and Marilyn Kinder, and Marilyn’s daughter, Paige DeNegris.
Meanwhile, with the persistence of Durinda and the support of Pam Kenn of the Red Sox, I was able to spend a few wonderful minutes with Joe Castiglione, the voice of the Sox.
The interview was taped for WEEI Radio and placed on the station’s blog, where fans can hear about Smoky Joe’s career, especially his the years with the Red Sox and the interesting life he led before and after baseball. Then early on Friday, July 26, I signed a few copies of the biography at the Prudential Mall Barnes and Noble store. At noon we returned to McGreevy’s for a great lunch and lively discussion with new friend Joanne Hulbert from the Boston chapter of SABR.
Then we headed north. The first stop was Keene, New Hampshire, the home of the late Bob and Connie Wood. We reunited with Durinda Wood at the Toadstool Bookstore in Keene, gave a reading and signing there, and then Rindy, Edra, and I enjoyed another fine mealwith an old high school friend of Ms. Wood. Luckily we were also able to find friend and baseball scholar Glenn Stout and poet Donald Hall at a literary festival in beautiful Woodstock, Vermont, where I presented Hall, who writes of Smoky Joe in his poetry, a copy of the biography.
Smoky Joe Wood was put on the shelf for a couple of days while my wife and I visited with members of the Smoky Joe Wood SABR chapter in the New Haven, Connecticut, area and then celebrated our anniversary in the towns of Mystic and Essex. Then we continued on to Philadelphia for the national SABR convention, where I signed books at the Nebraska booth and visited with many baseball friends, including Steve Steinberg, Bill Nowlin, and Marcia and Rick Huhn.
Sorry to leave old and new friends in Philly, we exited early on Sunday, drove to Bethesda, Maryland, and took in a Quotidian Theatre performance of The Birds, written by Conor McPherson, the subject of an early book I wrote for Liffey Press in Dublin, Ireland.
Once again the great benefit of researching, writing, and publishing on Smoky Joe Wood was the chance to make new and lasting friendships and enjoy unique baseball experiences.
-Gerald C. Wood