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Touch 'em all - heartstrings

Touch 'em all - heartstrings
J.D. Drew just loved the story line.

On a night to honor the late Dom DiMaggio, who died early yesterday morning, Drew, another No. 7, helped power the Red Sox to a 7-3 win over the Rays last night at Fenway Park.

``How about that,'' said Drew, who bashed a two-run homer in the sixth to break a 3-3 deadlock. ``I watched the entire pregame ceremony and I was really touched by it. I didn't know a lot about Dom DiMaggio, but I think they did a good job telling his story. He was a great, great player and a great, great man by all accounts, and I thought it was just a nice tribute to a great man.''

Sox groundskeeper Dave Mellor mowed DiMaggio's No. 7 into center field.

``You know, it's funny, I didn't even notice that until much later, but what a great thing,'' said Drew. ``I feel a bond to him because we wore the same number, and to be able to contribute a big hit at a big time on a night like this against Tampa Bay, that's special. That's one of those things you kind of put in the back of your mind and remember somewhere down the road.''

Drew certainly can relate to DiMaggio's story in that he has a brother in the major leagues in Stephen Drew, who plays shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Dom DiMaggio might have been overshadowed by his more famous brother Joe (Vince also played), but Dom had his own records and All-Star appearances.

``Having a brother in the big leagues, I understand what that's like,'' said Drew. ``Not to that magnitude of course, because we're talking about two of the greatest players in the game's history. But I guess we at least shared a couple of things with having brothers in the big leagues and wearing the same number for the Red Sox . I thought the whole night was just done so nicely.''

DiMaggio, who was 92, hit .298 in his career with 87 homers and 618 RBIs in 1,399 games for the Red Sox over 11 seasons. He was a seven-time All-Star who scored more than 100 runs six times, and he missed three seasons in the prime of his career to serve in the Navy.

He was proud of the fact he wore glasses and made it to the big leagues because so many people told him anyone wearing spectacles could never be a good player. DiMaggio believed he overcame the stereotype and inspired young men who wore glasses to play.

DiMaggio was a man of enormous talent and his place in Red Sox history should never be forgotten. He played at a time when the controversial Ted Williams was the Boston icon, yet he supported Williams. Indeed, David Halberstam's acclaimed ``The Teammates'' was an account of the lives and friendships of DiMaggio, Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr, stars of the excellent Sox teams of the 1940s.

DiMaggio was a student of the game. He had the ability to look at a struggling player and know exactly what he needed to do to turn things around.

The words class and dignity often were used to describe him.

Drew is also one of the smoothest players in the game, with excellent skills and instincts. All that's held him from greatness is his penchant for becoming injured, but his swing is smooth and his strides are graceful.

When Drew hits a ball, like his homer last night, the mechanics are perfect. He felt he hit the ball hard at least two other times against the Rays and could have produced more runs, but he was happy with the two he drove in. On the homer, he hit a changeup from James Shields that hung in the strike zone and Drew lofted it out at a pretty important moment.

``That [homer] ended up paying off big time,'' he said. ``I just wanted to be able to get a ball up in the zone - something I could really drive. That one was just a little bit high in my zone that I was able to get the barrel of the bat on and drive it far enough.''

In a rarity, Drew showed emotion after the homer.

``I think it was just one of those things where I hit [a ball] hard like I did previous to that and just being able to hit a big homer like that just made my night,'' said Drew. ``For Jason Bay to be able to hit a big three-run homer [just before Drew's], that just made all of us feel a little more at ease.

``The way Brad [Penny] was pitching, it was just nice to be able to give him some breathing room right there.''

It was all nice. The DiMaggio tribute. The symmetry of lucky No. 7.

Boston was lucky to have had Dom DiMaggio.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 12, 2009

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