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Home » History & May 2012 Game CommentsMay 2012 » When Johnny Comes Marching Home

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

As if giving instructions to a cadre of tykes for a Red Sox Small Talk segment Bobby Valentine said in the postgame press conference, “Just for you younger reporters out there that was called a complete game. The starter starts it and…” Jon Lester pitched a complete game loss in Toronto a little over a month ago on April 11, so this time the innings invested paid off. It does help that the Seattle Mariners are a bunch of lambs (in Dennis Eckersley jargon).

Lester chatted up a perfect game until fourth inning. With two down Ichiro Suzuki interrupted Lester’s flow with a comebacker that the hurler couldn’t get a handle on and Lester couldn’t seal the deal. He should post in Craigslist: “To the perfect game I carried into the 4th. Meet me in Chicago the weekend of June 15. I have an old friend to impress.”

Unlike they did in Lester’s April effort the Red Sox lineup provided adequate run support. Even the bottom third of the order experienced a power surge in the fourth inning. Seven-hole hitter Daniel Nava dropped the ball in the front row of the Monster seats with Cody Ross on the basepaths. Sadly for the outfielder Erin Andrews wasn’t in attendance. One batter later Kelly Shoppach blasted his first home run in a Red Sox uniform over the left field wall. The no-doubter didn’t make it into the parking lot, but surely such a historic shot would have caused a ruckus amongst the Landsdowne loiterers and attendants.

Lester’s return to form reminded me of the folksong that shares a title with this column. The ditty seems to have been borrowed from an Irish song called “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” by Boston band leader Patrick Gilmore. Coincidentally, Gilmore immigrated from Ireland in 1848. But do not hold his appropriation against him as no less a personage than John Philip Sousa called Gilmore “the Father of the American Band.”

Gilmore was charged with training bands in Massachusetts and deploying them for the Union. When the Civil War ended President Abraham Lincoln requested that Gilmore organize a music festival in New Orleans to celebrate the peace. Spurred by this accomplishment Gilmore doubled the participants (from 500 to 1,000 band members and 5,000 to 10,000 singers) for his next endeavor: the National Peace Jubilee and Music Festival of 1869 in Cooley Square.

Perhaps like Gilmore the Red Sox can build upon this streak of success.

Game 35: May 14, 2012
Seattle Mariners
L: Jason Vargas (4-3)
2B: Justin Smoak (2)
WinBoston Red Sox
W: Jon Lester (2-3)
2B: David Ortiz (15), Adrian Gonzalez (14), Cody Ross (8)
HR: Daniel Nava (1)

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