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August 09, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "Tales From the Red Sox Dugout"

Authors: Jim Prime, with Bill Nowlin

Publisher: Sports Publishing, Inc.

Price: $19.95

We may live in Los Angeles, but we all know Boston Red Sox fans. They're everywhere. And they give new meaning to the term die-hard.

Prime, the main author of this 168-page book, says the Red Sox, being the lovable underdogs they are, can legitimately lay claim to being "America's Team." Their history includes a fascinating mix of heroes and characters. The heroes include Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra. Among the characters are Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Mickey McDermott, Jimmy Piersall, Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Bernie Carbo and Luis Tiant.

The book is not a chronological history. It's a compilation of vignettes about more than 100 past and current players, in alphabetical order, beginning with Luis Aparicio and concluding with Don Zimmer.

A segment titled "The World According to Chairman Lee" is a highlight. Lee, on the installation of a new electronic scoreboard at Fenway Park: "That's like having a Mercedes and hanging little dice from the rearview mirror." On his pregame rituals: "I told [reporters] that I sprinkled marijuana on my organic buckwheat pancakes, and then when I ran five miles to the ballpark, it made me impervious to bus fumes. That's when Bowie Kuhn took me off his Christmas list."

Elsewhere, there's this description of slugger Jimmie Foxx: "He was known by his teammates as a low-ball hitter and a high-ball drinker."

It's noted that Garciaparra was named after his father, in a backward sort of way. Nomar's father is named Ramon.

Maybe it's fitting that the book's last vignette is on Zimmer and about how he was the manager in 1978 when the Red Sox had a 14-game lead in late July but had to struggle to force a one-game playoff with the New York Yankees. They lost, of course, in what became know as the "Bucky Dent" game, causing Zimmer to mumble that name under his breath for years.

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