Don Orsillo says the Red Sox excluded him from Jerry Remy tribute
Padres broadcaster Don Orsillo says the Red Sox excluded him from their Fenway tribute to his longtime partner and close friend, Jerry Remy
Before Don Orsillo became a fixture in the San Diego Padres broadcast booth, he was beloved in Boston as the booming, humorous, oft-jubilant voice of the Red Sox.
Alongside the late, great Jerry Remy, Orsillo covered some of the greatest games in Red Sox history, and the two were one of the most dynamic duos in sports broadcasting.
Remy passed away in October after several hard-fought battles with cancer over many years. On Wednesday night, the 110th anniversary of Fenway Park’s first game, the Red Sox paid tribute to Remy. Fans received the same Remy patches that the players are wearing on their jersey sleeves all season, and several Sox legends made appearances, including Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
Noticeably absent from the event? Orsillo.
Hours later, he took to Twitter to explain, and he painted an upsetting picture.
According to Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox claim to have invited Orsillo to the ceremony, but he said he was unable to attend due to Padres coverage. However, the Padres played a day game on Wednesday, so while Orsillo couldn’t be there in person, he would’ve been able to make a remote appearance during the Remy pregame event, which began at 6:30 PM ET.
Instead, Orsillo recorded his video, only to be told: “it was no longer needed.”
How could a video from Orsillo not be needed for this occasion? How could they pay tribute to Remy without him? Why would they want to?
According to Finn, the Red Sox claimed that because Orsillo was featured in their hour-long tribute show “Remembering Jerry” earlier this month, they clearly weren’t trying to exclude him on Wednesday. That doesn’t really track, though, because they easily could’ve just included him, especially since he made it clear that he wanted to partake in any way he could.
Ultimately, like most things in life, it comes down to effort. If they’d really cared about including Orsillo, they would have made it work. They didn’t.
Orsillo and Remy worked side by side for fifteen years and were extremely close, even calling one another ‘best friend.’ Orsillo credits Remy as being “the main reason” he got the Red Sox play-by-play gig in the first place.
When Remy passed away last fall, Orsillo wrote, “I am lost.”
And ahead of Opening Day earlier this month, Orsillo paid tribute to his friend, coworker, and mentor, saying he misses him every day.
As Finn noted in another tweet, it sounds like a huge miscommunication.
But clearly to Orsillo, and thousands of Sox fans, it’s more than that. It’s been more than whatever it ‘really’ is since the Sox fired him seven years ago.
In August 2015, the Red Sox informed Orsillo that instead of picking up his contract, they planned to replace him with current PxP Dave O’Brien in 2016. They foolishly hoped to keep the news private until the season ended, but the story leaked and fans lost their minds. Over 62,000 signed a petition in hopes of keeping Orsillo, but to no avail. He signed a long-term contract with the Padres and departed for the west coast.
At the time, Remy made it clear that he was unhappy with NESN’s decision to take away his partner:
"“For the last 15 years, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Don… He’s been an outstanding partner for 15 years, and I’m truly going to miss him on a work-related side and I’m going to miss him on a personal side because he also has become a very, very close friend of mine.I know that he’s going to land on his feet and he’s going to be in great shape. I’m sure they’re going to be lining up for his services. I really mean that. He’s terrific at what he does, he’s been absolutely fabulous to work with. I love him.”"
Orsillo and Remy were the duo that kept Sox fans coming back when their team was so abysmally bad that there was no on-field reason to watch. And yet in 2015, when the Red Sox plummeted to a 78-84 last-place finish in the American League East, the head on the chopping block, inexplicably, was Orsillo’s. As if the poor ratings were his fault and not the on-field product he and Remy still managed to make remotely interesting.
He deserved better.
The evidence is in overwhelming favor of Orsillo and has been for years. It’s shameful that the Sox could not make even the most minimal effort to include him beyond the invitation that they almost certainly knew he could not fulfill in person. Ask anyone in Boston, and they’ll certainly tell you that Remy would’ve wanted Orsillo to be there in any way, shape, or form.
Seven years ago, Boston’s loss became San Diego’s gain. Orsillo is beloved by Padres fans, and will hopefully remain with the organization for years to come. In 2021, he made it clear that he has “absolutely no intentions of ever leaving San Diego,” and if the Padres are smarter than the Red Sox, they’ll agree.
But on Wednesday night, he should’ve been in Boston – either in person or on camera – to say goodbye to his friend.