Last Friday, I received a surprise call at my UMass Lowell office. I was in a meeting off campus, so was not there to pick up the phone. Later in the day, I got an email message explaining what had happened and telling me to check the voicemail.
I joined the Facebook universe in January 2011. That spring, when baseball season came around, for fun I changed my Profile picture on Facebook (for non-users, that’s the one that identifies you on all your postings). I put up an image of a Topps baseball card from 1965. It was Dalton Jones, the infielder with the beautiful left-handed swing who played for the Red Sox in the mid-1960s. The card is shown above. He was my favorite player. He wasn’t a superstar, but he was a great contributor to the team. As my friend Jack Neary said recently, “He got a lot of big hits in 1967.”
I played baseball for Dracut High School for four years. I wasn’t a regular starter. I played shortstop, second base, and wherever I could help. I was a much better hitter in neighborhood games and in pick-up softball later in my life, but I held my own in high school—one time broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the last inning in Billerica. In 1965, when I was 11 years old, my favorite Red Sox player was Dalton Jones. He batted .389 in the 1967 World Series, playing third base in games one through four. He was 7 for 18 with a .421 on-base percentage in the Series. Boston lost to St. Louis, as we all recall. I remember a newspaper cartoon the day after the series showing a sad kid in a Red Sox cap who had scrawled these words on a wall: “Julian Javier is a Jerk” (you have to say it with the j’s as h’s)—Javier was the Cardinals’ shortstop. Dalton was such a good prospect coming out of high school that the Red Sox asked another great left-handed hitter to recruit him: Ted Williams.
When my Facebook and real-life friend Bill Lipchitz saw Dalton Jones on my Facebook page, he wrote to me and said you probably don’t know this but Meredith Fife Day went to high school with Dalton Jones in Louisiana around 1960. Bill said she still talks to him and visits when she goes back to her hometown. Meredith has been the artist-in-residence at the Whistler House Museum of Art for several years. One of her paintings hangs in my family’s living room. Bill is a friend of Meredith’s, so he told her about Dalton and me. Meredith wrote to me and said it was great to hear, and that she would tell her baseball-playing friend that he had a big fan in Lowell. She said Dalton was expected to attend the Fenway Park centennial celebration in April 2012. As it turned out, he was not able to get to Boston this spring.
Imagine my surprise and happiness when I listened to the voicemail message last week.
“Hi Paul. This is Dalton Jones. I’m sitting here with a good friend, Meredith, and we’re talking about you. Sorry I didn’t get through to you. She’s going to bring back a couple of things for you. Goodbye.”
Artist Meredith Fife Day in Paris.