Royal Rooters - The Birth of Red Sox Nation; a documentary
Peter Nash interview by Don Hyslop
Posted 20 September 2007 - 10:42 AM
RSN: Peter, can you give us a summary of what this movie is about?
Peter Nash: The overview of the film is the complete history of the Boston baseball fan from the 1850’s to the present time, focusing on the establishment of the Royal Rooters in the late 1890’s. We also tried to capture real personal stories by actual descendants of the original Royal Rooters. We try to show how they tie into the present day Boston fans and American sports fans in general.
RSN: Did the idea for the movie come from your book or did they go hand in hand?
PN: I was developing my Baseball Fan Hall of Fame and my book at the same time. A great deal of my research for the book was the basis for a larger project, like a film. As I was doing the book and developing the Fan Hall of Fame, I was actually building a replica of McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon in Cooperstown. I got together with a local director, Ian McFarland, who was working with the Dropkick Murphys on the Tessie project. Lead singer Ken Casey asked if I would get together with his people because I had original photographs that might be helpful to them. Ian and I hit it off and saw the potential for a larger project on the history of the Royal Rooters. With the research that I had done already, we threw the idea around and came up with the concept of a full length documentary film covering the whole history, in depth. We decided that this was a story that needed to be told. No one had ever scratched the surface of it, even knowing how rabid the fan base was in Boston compared to the rest of the country.
RSN: Was it very difficult to produce the film?
PN: We had a lot of help from the Red Sox themselves, and from local historians such as Richard Johnson, Glenn Stout and Bill Nowlin, who made up the cornerstone of the baseball history side of it. People such as Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Pesky, Janet Marie Smith, as well as a lot of other Red Sox officials are part of it. We also had a lot of everyday fans such as Anne Quinn who has been a resident of the right center bleachers for like 50 years now. Then we had relatives of the Fitzgerald’s, Lib Dooley, and Nuf Ced McGreevy.
RSN: When and where will the film make its debut?
PN: As of right now it is scheduled to appear on NESN, Monday, September 24 at 8 pm. It will be an edited TV version of the film. We are presently in discussions with the Red Sox about the possibility of an October 1 premiere at the AMC Fenway Theater. The plan is to show it in connection with Rally Monday, with the possibility that after the rally a procession will proceed to the theater for the premiere of the film.
RSN: For those of us who do not live in the Boston area, will the film be available on DVD?
PN: Yes, there will be a release of the DVD in stores right around Oct. 1. It will also be available online at sites such as Amazon.
RSN: What were some of your favorite moments in making the film?
PN: I have to say that as I got more into the story, the more I enjoyed the personal tie-ins with the descendants of the Royal Rooters, in particular, the Dooley family. Lib Dooley’s father was one of the founders of the Royal Rooters. He organized the first BoSox Club-type group. This family has had seats at Fenway since opening day in 1912. The family still has those seats today. Lib Dooley passed her seats down through her will to others in her family. Lib Dooley’s sister, Kitty just turned 96. She was presented with Lib’s actual seat from Fenway by the Red Sox and it sits in her living room for all of her great grand-nieces and nephews to sit in and listen to stories about their families’ association with the Red Sox. This is the part of the story that struck me; the Red sox fans who passed the legacy of their love for the Red Sox from generation to generation. This is almost like the blueprint for it. We kind of give Honey Fitz, McGreevy and Jack Dooley the moniker of being the founding fathers of Red Sox Nation.
RSN: Who were some of the other interesting characters who stood out between the 1918- 1967 period?
PN: Someone I already mentioned, Anne Quinn. Also Lollie Hopkins, who was a fixture at games from the 20’s to the 50’s, and of course Lib Dooley, who attended games from 1944 until her death in 2000, all stand out.
RSN: Did Lollie Hopkins, whose nickname was Screaming Lollie, come by that nickname as a result of her behavior at the ballpark?
PN: Most definitely. She was always armed with a megaphone. We have some film clips of her in the crowd. The Sporting News dubbed her, the “Hubs Number #1 Howler.” She was married to a railway conductor and lived in Providence. She would make her way to Boston using her husband’s railway pass to every home game, both at Fenway and at Braves Field. She honestly earned the reputation of being the loudest fan in the park. She sat close behind the Sox dugout.
RSN: With the disappearance of 3rd Base, did any other watering holes become the spot for Sox fans to gather?
PN: The other great story that developed was how McGreevy’s saloon really established the notion of the American sports bar and also sports museum. Almost a half century before Cooperstown opened its doors, 3rd Base was displaying memorabilia and artifacts dedicated to the game’s history. Prohibition became the death knell for 3rd Base. In the years that followed there have been a number of establishments in the Fenway area. The one, that I feel, best carries on the McGreevy tradition is the Baseball Tavern which was established around 1953. It started out as more of a working class bar for the employees of the numerous factories in the area as well as for baseball fans. Over the years this transformed as the neighborhood changed into what I consider the modern day equivalent of McGreevy’s. In the film, we try to show how McGreevy’s established the concept of baseball saloon culture and how that has spread out across the country. One of the things that I did when I established the Baseball Fan Hall of Fame was to recreate the McGreevy bar and it served as the set for a lot of our interview segments in the film. I ended up having to knock the building down in Cooperstown as the roof had become structurally compromised. As I result, I moved the whole McGreevy bar to the second floor of the Baseball Tavern. The memorabilia and photos from the period are now all there on the second floor. Jimmy Rooney and I had some plans to develop the site into a more full scale baseball museum. Right now, it sits as the most exact replica of McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon as you could get. The fact that it is now in Boston seems much more fitting that being in Cooperstown.
RSN: I know that numerous others, as well as myself, have urged the Red Sox to establish a Red Sox Museum. Did the team ever approach you about acquiring your memorabilia?
PN: Actually, I have been in discussions with them over the past year and a half. Originally the plan was to move 3rd Base into Fenway. There were conversations with Janet Marie Smith and we are still trying to work out a plan where that might happen, but there are presently just too many constraints with available space. They have actually found a space for a future museum but it couldn’t work out in the time-frame we wanted. In support of the film coming out, I wanted to have it established, thus the setting it up at the Baseball Tavern. You know, the location of the Baseball Tavern might just work out as a full-fledged Red Sox Museum without the Red Sox having it at Fenway Park. The ball is still in their court and I am still willing to work with them.
RSN: How do you think the original Royal Rooters would react to membership cards, paid memberships, and elections for President of Red Sox Nation?
PN: Of course, the times have changed but Nuf Ced had his season tickets to the ballpark, had advertising on the outfield wall and on the scorecard. He was not adverse to the commercial side of the sport. I believe that they would have adapted to the business side of the sport. The Royal Rooters were the first to carry written signs into the ballpark; they were the first to introduce popular music into the ballpark. Maybe they wouldn’t have picked Sweet Caroline to be their song of choice, but they would have appreciated the fervor of today’s Red Sox fans. They probably would have had more of a problem with ticket prices than anything else. It is chronicled in the film that a main reason they switched loyalties from the National League team to the Sox was a result of the more favorable ticket prices offered by the Sox. The ticket prices of the American League franchise hovered around 25 cents where the National League team was charging 50 cents plus.
RSN: Peter, is there anything else about the film you would like to add?
PN: Well, not only do we chronicle the history of the fans but we also examine the history of the team and of the ballparks from the Huntington Grounds to modern Fenway.
I think it is the type of film that has not been done up to this point and we hope the fans enjoy it and learn a bit more about their predecessors and how they have influenced the Boston sports scene. One of the interesting things that is featured in the film is actual footage, discovered by my partner Ian McFarland in the McGreevy Collection, of McGreevy and other Royal Rooters at the L Street Baths playing handball and doing calisthenics. There is also footage of them jumping into Boston Harbor in the winter. Those images are unbelievable and make those characters come alive.
Posted 20 September 2007 - 11:29 AM
I couldn't agree more. It sounds very interesting.
This is how
Posted 23 September 2007 - 04:37 PM
Posted 28 September 2007 - 08:03 AM
After reading the interview I checked out the film monday on NESN, I thought it was one of the best baseball films I've ever seen. I went to an FYE store because of their commercials and they didn't have it in yet. I don't know when it will be available, anyone know??
The depth of history regarding Sox fans is truly amazing. The film has uncovered some buried treasure and reallly linked the past to the present. Great portrayal of rsn.net o boot.
Posted 29 September 2007 - 06:05 PM
Do known if is possible to go the fliming of the Rooters movie in Boston on Monday Oct. 1 or who I could contact to find out.
Reed from Maine
Posted 02 October 2007 - 11:00 AM
Reed from Maine
Sorry I missed your question but the DVD is now available at stores and on Amazon.com. Great to see Peter Nash at the Rally yesterday although watching the ceremony on the small window on my computer I was unable to see the 1912 World Series Trophy.
Check out the film's website:
This post has been edited by scotian1: 02 October 2007 - 12:03 PM
Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:57 AM
Check out the film's website:
For anyone interested, I just purchased a couple of copies on Amazon. That 1912 World Series trophy shows up in the movie too. I think the Sox were smart to trot out this lucky charm, now Manny's hitting walk-offs. I saw the film again on NESN yesterday. Can't get enough of this thing. Can't wait to see it w/o commercials.