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Sox honor 100-year-old batboy
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Forsyth County News
Ever thought about what you’d like for your 100th birthday?

Just to have a 100th birthday comes to mind first. Second, maybe to actually know that it’s your 100th birthday.

Arthur Giddon knew exactly what he wanted: to make the trip from his assisted living facility in Bloomfield, Conn. to Fenway Park, to watch his beloved Boston Red Sox take on their biggest rival, the New York Yankees.

But Giddon didn’t just want to attend the game. He wanted to participate. He wanted to be the Red Sox batboy. “Just for the first batter,” his daughter, Pam Giddon-Freedman, explained to

It’s not as big a stretch as you might think. Giddon has two years experience as a batboy under his belt. He once served as the Boston Braves batboy. In 1922 and 1923.

A native of Brookline, Giddon had a 10 minute walk from his school to Braves Field. “You could walk in if you got there early,” Giddon told Alan Schwarz of the New York Times. “I got to know the workmen at the clubhouse.

“I’d run errands for the players. I got a job picking up tonic bottles and putting them in the case. One day they asked me if I wanted to be a bat boy, so I said sure!”

Those Braves teams were awful by any standard; each lost 100 games. But to Giddon, they were loveable, not loveable losers. “One of my favorites was Tony Boeckel, the third baseman, a rough and tumble guy,” he recalled for Joe Fitzgerald of the Boston Herald. “And we all loved Billy Southworth. He was the captain and rightfielder.

“There was Hod Ford at second, Bob Smith at short, and a couple of catchers: Mickey O’Neil and Hank Gowdy.

“But Walter Holke was the one I liked best. He played first and lived right near our house, so I grew up with his son. Walter taught us how to make kites, which I would later teach my grandchildren.”

Did you notice the power of baseball at work? Here’s a guy nearing his 100th birthday, and he can still recite the lineup of a team that lost 100 games 87 years ago.

Giddon noticed. “I have a lifetime of memories, but they’re all fading fast,” he told Fitzgerald. “Yet, my baseball memories have lasted. Did I tell you I met Ted Williams in ‘39, when he was a rookie? I used to see him walking around Kenmore Square. He seemed like kind of a lonesome guy, so I said ‘Hi’ a few times, but he never had much to say.”

Giddon made two memorable acquaintances before a game in 1922. The first was Babe Ruth, but Giddon couldn’t chat long. After all, he had a job to do.

He also got to meet an elderly gentleman with a great shock of snow white hair. As Giddon recalled for Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Curant, the man turned to Giddon and asked, “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes, sir, you’re the commissioner of baseball.”

“So, what are you going to be when you grow up?” demanded Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

“I don’t know yet.”

“Well, you ought to be a lawyer.”

And that’s just what Giddon did. He graduated from Tufts and Harvard Law School. After serving as a Lt. Commander in the Navy in World War II, he moved to Connecticut and began his law practice.

He spent his last 19 years in civil service, retiring as chief public defender of the Hartford Judicial District in 1985. At the time, Joseph Shortall, Connecticut’s chief public defender, told the Curant, “He’s one of the most impressive people I’ve met in my life.”

Yet baseball remained his first love. Even as he sat for his interview with Schwarz, his bride of 61 years, Harriet, popped in to exclaim, “Oh, the Red Sox! That’s the best vitamin for him!”

Though liability issues kept him from actual batboy activities, Saturday before the game, there was Giddon on the field at Fenway. He wore a daughter-made Red Sox jersey with Big Pappy and the number 100 on the back. All the Red Sox gathered to meet him, and the resident Big Papi, David Ortiz, asked if Giddon had brought him any hits.

Talk about a dream come true. “I loved baseball all my life, and I just can’t believe I’m being called to sit there at the dugout with all these wonderful players!”

And what a game he saw. The Sox spotted the Yankees a 6-0 lead. In his career, Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett had won all 32 games in which he had been dealt such a lead. He’s now won 32-of-33.

After four hours and 21 minutes of baseball that included four lead changes, 28 hits, six homeruns and 386 pitches, the Sox finally prevailed, 16-11. Talk about your perfect birthday!

It was the type of game to satisfy everyone, but it left Giddon wanting more.

“Who knows?” he asked Fitzgerald. “Maybe the news will get down to Atlanta, and I’ll be able to do it for the Braves one more time!”