October 24, 2007

One of the amazing things about last Saturday night’s FOX broadcast of the Red Sox ALCS sixth-game victory over the Cleveland Indians was to hear all of Fenway Park singing what sounded like some Irish soccer rallying song, but I couldn’t tell what it was. When the NESN people mentioned afterwards the whole park singing “Tessie”, I then remembered this band in Boston called the Dropkick Murphys, and that “Tessie” was a song associated somehow with the Red Sox. Interestingly enough, I had found this out not from my East Coast connections but by attending the first of a three-game Red Sox-Diamondbacks series played here in Phoenix this past June. At the time, I couldn’t believe either a) the number of Red Sox fans that were here to attend the game, and b) how many of them knew this song, which, upon my asking this drunken Sox fan singing it at the top of his lungs, turned out to be “Tessie”. So, after Saturday night’s spectacle, I decided to check into exactly what the song was all about.

well, it turns out that there’s an interesting history about “Tessie”. According to the Wiki entry, the song goes back to the earliest days of the Red Sox and a group of boosters (called the “Royal Rooters”) who followed the team wherever they played – back in those pre-Fenway Park days, that meant the Huntington Avenue fairgrounds:

The original version of “Tessie (You Are the Only, Only, Only)” was written by Will R. Anderson and was featured in the Broadway musical The Silver Slipper[1], which ran for 160 performances between October 27, 1902 and March 14, 1903. The song was about a woman singing to her beloved parakeet “Tessie”.

While a popular tune, the song gained greater notoriety when it was adopted as a rallying cry by the Royal Rooters, a collection of loyal fans led by Michael T. “Nuf Ced” McGreevy, owner of the 3rd Base Saloon. (McGreevy earned his nickname “Nuf Ced” due to the way he kept peace in his bar; when he grew frustrated with arguments over the Red Sox and the Boston Braves, he would pound his hand on the bar and declare “Nuf Ced!”). Boston Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald (grandfather of President John F. Kennedy) was another member of the Royal Rooters.

After the first four games of the 1903 World Series, Boston was down 1-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. (It was a best of 9 series; 5 wins were needed to win the series.) The Royal Rooters began rallying their team with every song they could think of; ultimately “Tessie” helped win the day. Pittsburgh outfielder Tommy Leach credited at least part of Boston’s win to “that damn ‘Tessie’ song.” He continued: “It was a real hum-dinger of a song, but it sort of got on your nerves after a while.” (Boston won Game 5 and went on to win Games 6, 7, and 8 to win the series 5รขโ‚ฌโ€œ3; however, Boston only won two out of four at home and three of four at Pittsburgh, so the true impact of their home-town fans’ song is uncertain.) There are stories that the Royal Rooters actually traveled to Pittsburgh and hired a band to play Tessie to annoy the Pirates even at their home field.

Fast-forward ahead to early in the 2004 season. The Murphys decided to record their own version of the song with lyrics invoking not only old “Nuf Ced” McGreevy but Red Sox ghosts of Christmas past (Chick Stahl, Bill Dinnen, Cy Young, etc.), saying it was “their intent to bring back the spirit of the ‘Rooters’ and put the Red Sox back on top.” Considering that the Sox became world champions later that year, it’s no wonder the song has been adopted as a kind of a lucky charm and a victory anthem for Red Sox fans.

You can see the Dropkick Murphys perform it here. Very entertaining, makes me want to head to the closest, darkest Boston Irish pub with my friends for a pint or two. Supposedly they have them around here, but as you might imagine, it’s just not the same – somehow it loses some translation given the desert Southwest. Nevertheless, enjoy “Tessie” and go Red Sox, J.D Drew, and Terry Francona! ๐Ÿ™‚

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
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