The Big 50: Boston Red Sox: The Men and Moments that Made the Boston Red Sox by Evan Drellich circa ’04. This little hobby of mine, reading Friends works, often brings me to unfamiliar territory. I grew up with plenty of baseball around me because my brother loved baseball, and some of the names of legends of the sport are very familiar. But baseball wasn’t my interest. So it was a great and surprising pleasure to discover the drama, joy, personalities, and rivalries of this team about which I knew next to nothing. It all comes back to 2004. From 1918 until this magical year, the Red Sox had come close but never again won the World Series. In 2004, the curse of the Bambino was broken. Evan’s prose is infused with authority, enthusiasm, and light. We learn about the old greats like Ted Williams and Cy Young, the shameful racism that black players experienced, the team’s community pride after the Boston Marathon bombing, the role of money, and more statistics than I can possibly process. Oh and 2004. The 50 chapters introduce us to the charm, quirkiness, and courage of many great stars. Sports writers, broadcasters, and Fenway Park itself all have a moment in the sun. There were even a few touches for French teachers of the world (thanks, Evan) – how to pronounce “Henri” and the middle name of owner Cap Huston: L’Hommedieu. Oh, and one more thing. The Red Sox spring training takes place in Fort Myers, right across the river from me. This part of Florida likes to think we share a little in Boston’s pride of ownership.
Nov 23, 2019
Prison Transformations: The System, the Prisoners, and Me by Stephen Chinlund ’51. Here is the story of an Episcopalian priest who is attracted to monastic life but finds a higher calling in helping the incarcerated find ways to transform their lives. In the early 60’s, he was hired at Saint Augustine’s Chapel on Henry Street, a satellite of Trinity Church. The neighborhood of the chapel, troubled by drug addiction and crime, led him to visit first Riker’s. His concern for prisoners grew and became central to his life’s work. In spite of much evidence to the contrary, Stephen maintained a firm belief that people are capable of transformation. In opposition to the harsh view that prisoners required disdain, a view prevalent among prison personnel, he maintained a fervent optimism and could point to some amazing results. From his start as a visitor, he continued to work with the system throughout the state of New York, convincing the powerful to try new approaches. By building a program called Network, which consisted of group meetings with a simple reliable format, he provided broken individuals a vehicle to view life a new way. At the meetings, the participants were invited to relate some positive, helpful behavior, to devise a plan for how they would deal with life on the outside, and then to reflect in silence. Here, of course, Stephen was influenced by his life as a student at Friends. Eventually, when the Commission of Corrections was formed to monitor prisons after the riot at Attica, Stephen was appointed by the governor to be Chairman. Stephen discusses the issues of crime, incarceration, rehabilitation and reentry to society with the complexity and thoughtfulness they deserve. His own bent toward introspection, especially in his comparative analysis of monasteries and prisons, is engrossing. This book stands as an inspiration for those working with seemingly immovable individuals: it seems that stubborn idealism can win out.