There's something incredibly intimate about following baseball on a daily basis. Every single night, almost without fail in my household by the time that childhood television restrictions were lifted, Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy were on, calling Red Sox games as a tandem. Every single night, I welcomed Don into my home and he always brought his A-game. Every night, Don Orsillo was an invited guest to family dinner.
I've never followed a team without Orsillo as the lead announcer, and the thought of following a team that has anything less terrifies me. It's kind of similar to how the only football team that I've ever loved has had a Hall-of-Fame quarterback for much of my life. The idea of losing Orsillo from the nightly broadcasts is the same feeling I expect to have when Tom Brady eventually retires from football.
What Orsillo did better than just about any other broadcaster in the country was give situations the levity or gravity they deserved. Whether it's the Mother's Day Miracle, when the Red Sox scored six runs in the ninth innings to beat the Orioles, or the Daniel Nava home run the day that David Ortiz declared that Boston was "our fucking city," Orsillo always rose to the occasion when the situation required it.
Anyone following the Red Sox these past 15 years has been spoiled by having the privilege to enjoy the chemistry between Orsillo and Remy. With those two, the sum is greater than the parts, which is insane to think about considering how talented Orsillo is and how highly regarded he is nationally among broadcasters. Watching the dynamic between Don and Jerry was never like watching two colleagues work a tiring job; rather, it felt like being a fly on the wall as two friends talked about baseball and, often enough, anything but.
When I was interning for the Boston Herald in the summer leading up to my senior year, I remember standing in the Red Sox clubhouse talking to Steve Buckley. Buck tapped me on the shoulder and told me, "There's somebody that I think you should meet." He walked me over to the door to the coach's locker room, where Don was standing talking to Jim Rice and Remy. Buck introduced me to Don, who subsequently peppered a nervous 17-year-old star struck with questions about college and my future.
"Where are you applying to school? Make sure to apply to Northeastern, my alma mater!" Orsillo said enthusiastically, followed by his memorable, unmistakable laugh.
Honestly, I don't quite remember what I said next because I was in awe of talking to the man who practically the narrated the sport that made me want to get into sports writing. And, yes, Jim Rice was also there.
What I do remember is that Orsillo put his hand on my shoulder and wished me good luck.
I would wish Don Orsillo good luck in finding his next job, but he doesn't need it. There's not a doubt in my mind that Don is one of the best announcers in baseball today and he's going to catch on somewhere quickly, whether it's in another major local market or on a national network.
Dealing with major change has never been a strength of mine, and turning on NESN and not seeing Don's face is going to take a long time to get used to. Having Don on the Red Sox broadcast has been something of a constant through my life. Through the two moves across Massachusetts, through my transition into high school, and then college, and then to another college; wherever I went, Don and Jerry were always there calling Red Sox games, and they were making me laugh and enjoy baseball while doing so.
When I transferred to another school for my sophomore year of college, I lived outside of Massachusetts for the first time since I was two years old. Naturally, I got homesick for my family, Boston, and the Red Sox, which was especially amplified given that I spent my freshman year at Boston University literally living in the shadow of Fenway Park and the 2013 Red Sox World Series run.
But thanks to the gift of God that is technology, if I ever felt sick, I could turn on NESN and there Don and Jerry were like they have been years and years. They took me back home, even if it was just for a couple of hours.
For me, the voice of Don Orsillo was home. Don Orsillo was Boston. Don Orsillo was family.