Boston loves its sports announcers. Curt Gowdy was ours before he belonged to all of America. Local fans worshipped at the altars of Johnny Most, Ned Martin, Gil Santos, and Fred Cusick.
But no local broadcaster has been more popular than Jerry Remy.
And now we wonder . . . is Remy coming back to work Red Sox games this year? Or next year? Or ever?
Fans are asking, Remy is pondering, and folks at NESN are waiting for the popular analyst to make a decision.
It would be a gross understatement to state that this is a sensitive situation. The level of loss is unspeakable. A young woman is dead, a little girl is motherless, and the lives of multiple families are forever damaged. Nothing will ever make that right.
Jerry Remy’s son is charged with murdering Jennifer Martel this past August (his trial is scheduled for October), and everyone associated with Remy, NESN, and the Red Sox has been unfailingly sensitive and respectful.
But there’s still the awkward question regarding Remy’s future in the broadcast booth, and there are indications that there will be an announcement this month. According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, Remy has a standing offer to return to NESN, and network officials are hoping to make an announcement before the Red Sox report to spring training in Fort Myers.
Remy respectfully declined to be interviewed for this column. He has been virtually invisible since working with Don Orsillo in the NESN broadcast booth in Toronto on Aug. 15, the night Jared Remy was charged with killing Martel, the mother of their 4-year-old daughter.
Two days after the murder, Jerry Remy released a statement that read, “My thoughts and prayers go out to Jenn Martel and her family. Words cannot describe my disgust and remorse over this senseless and tragic act. We are heartbroken.’’
Twelve days later, NESN released a statement saying that Remy would not return during the 2013 season. Within the statement, Remy said, “I am full of grief for the Martel family. My wife and I are sick about this senseless tragedy. It’s clear that this isn’t the time for me to return to broadcast Red Sox games. It’s my hope that I can do so in the spring. I thank NESN and the Red Sox for their support through this nightmare.’’
That’s been it. Remy was absent and silent when the Sox went on their magical run through the 2013 postseason. He declined an opportunity to have any part in the offseason trophy tour.
He has made an occasional comment on his Twitter account (he has more than 430,000 followers), but most of the Twitter postings are made by his business partner, John O’Rourke.
The Red Sox aren’t saying anything. An e-mail to Sox CEO Larry Lucchino bounced back quickly with a “no comment.’’ An e-mail to NESN boss Tom Werner generated no response.
They know this is a touchy situation. And no one knows better than Jerry Remy. There are so many hard questions.
Is Remy obligated to retire permanently because of his son’s alleged transgression? If Remy returns, will he be perceived as insensitive to the Martel family and other families (including his own) affected by Jared Remy’s crime history? Will there be more damaging stories uncovered in the months and years ahead? Is Remy obligated to take questions from the media and the public if he decides to return? And how is it possible to go back to the magical Remy-Orsillo formula of humor and banter during Sox telecasts?
It’s awful and awkward.
Remy is more than a baseball broadcaster. He’s a private man who has worked on a very public stage for almost 40 years.
He is a homegrown (born in Fall River) former Red Sox All-Star second baseman who has battled cancer and depression. He is the beloved RemDawg, more popular than Wally the Green Monster. He is a brand. His name is on restaurants near Fenway, at the Seaport, and at Logan Airport.
Remy is president of Red Sox Nation and he has felt the love of that Nation since news of the tragedy unfolded at the end of the summer.
Now he has to make a hard decision.Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.