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dan shaughnessy

Even during a pandemic, Tom Brady is ratings gold, and other thoughts

Tom Brady is a crowd favorite.Jessica Rinaldi

Picked-up pieces while channel surfing and deciding between the Thrilla in Manila and the 1968 World Series . . .

▪ I am reminded today of John Lennon’s unfortunate interview in 1966 when he said the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus.'' Steering clear of that outrageousness, let’s acknowledge that one cannot overstate the local popularity of Tom Brady.

Tampa Bay’s new quarterback went on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show for a couple of hours Wednesday and managed to make himself a topic of conversation even in the middle of a global pandemic.

Metaphorically chained to a radiator at Gillette Stadium for 20 years, Brady is suddenly talking about his marriage, his relationship with Donald Trump, the size of his testicles, freezing out receivers, race relations in the locker room, and his complex relationship with Bill Belichick.


Brady even said that the story Bob Kraft has been circulating for two decades (that rookie Brady allegedly told Kraft, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made”) is inaccurate. Asked about Kraft’s well-worn tale, Brady told Stern, "I didn’t say that.''

Tom Brady made headlines when he sat down with Howard Stern earlier this week.Jim Davis

It was “stop the presses!” and “breaking news!” stuff, dominating local airwaves and sports pages. Brady also got a full page in USA Today and the back pages of both New York tabloids.

As it was back on March 17 when he told us he was leaving, Brady is ratings gold — even when a deadly virus has brought our world to a virtual standstill.

▪ In case you missed it, Chris Sale was asked about the sensitivity of having elective surgery in the middle of a pandemic. Sale last week had to fly in a private jet from Florida to California because Dr. James Andrews had ceased performing Tommy John surgeries in Florida during the medical crisis.


Sale said his California doctors "were on a daily conference call with people making sure that what we were doing would have zero effect on anybody else dealing with this virus. That was No. 1 . . . a virus is much more important than fixing my bum elbow.''

Glad somebody said it.

▪ Fascinating to read that Tony La Russa still insists that Dave Dombrowski was "inclusive” during his time in Boston. La Russa considers the charge that Dombro was insular "inaccurate and unfair.''

Tony La Russa spent two seasons with the Red Sox.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Sorry. I’ve talked to Tony about this, and it’s no secret that Dombrowski and Sam Kennedy barely spoke to each other. Along with Frank Wren, La Russa was part of Dombro’s three-man circle of trust at Fenway.

La Russa must have noticed that when Chaim Bloom was hired to replace Dombrowski, multiple Sox officials repeatedly used the word "collaborative.'' Translation: No more autocracy.

▪ RIP Al Kaline. Ever-dignified, a Hall of Famer in every way, Kaline was Detroit’s right-field fixture for 22 seasons. Fellow Hall of Famer Jim Palmer e-mailed, "Al was the best. My first Major League start I struck him out the first time. I was 19 years old. The next time up he hit an 0-2 changeup off the foul pole for a home run in Memorial Stadium.

"The third time he hit a 98 MPH fastball low and away to right for a single. I knew right then, Al Kaline was the real deal.


"He was a special player and person. A lot of Brooks Robinson in him.''

▪ The coronavirus virus took 73-year-old Tom Dempsey in New Orleans last week. Born without toes on his right foot, Dempsey made NFL history with a 63-yard field goal for the Saints in 1970.

Closer to home, before his NFL fame, Dempsey also kicked at Cawley Stadium for the Lowell Giants (Atlantic Coast Football League) and assisted Dracut High School football coaching legend Ed Murphy.

▪ It was crushing to learn of the closing of the Hotel Buckminster in Kenmore Square. The Buckminster was where the 1919 Black Sox scandal was hatched and also the site of the Popeyes Chicken outlet where the Red Sox ordered food for the clubhouse during their epic “chicken-and-beer” collapse in 2011.

My headline for those two events would read, "The Buckminster: From Eight Men Out to 25 Men Ordering Out.''

▪ New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is the wife of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Sean Gilmartin.

▪ Quiz: 1. Name the two players who skated for the Bruins, AHL Braves, and WHA Whalers; 2. Name the only Celtic who was a teammate of both Bill Russell and Larry Bird. (Answers below.)

▪ Leftover stuff from 7-foot ex-Celtic Hank Finkel, who settled in Lynnfield after retiring from the NBA in 1975: "The Celtics had a Catholic priest who worked for them named John Creed. When Red [Auerbach] acquired me, they had Father Creed pick me up at Logan, and the first thing he said to me was, 'Red’s really glad to have you. He’s happy to have one of his own kind.’


"Red thought I was Jewish, but I’m German Catholic. I had a good laugh with Red when I told him that one.'’

Bob Ryan, the Globe’s young beat reporter when Finkel took over for Russell in 1969, remembered, "Hank caused a stir on Opening Night when he went to the line and did the ’Jesus-Mary-Joseph forehead-lips-chest thing.’ Everyone assumed he was Jewish. And he went to the line a lot that night. 3-15-21 if I recall correctly.''

Dubbed “High Henry” by Johnny Most, Finkel grew up in Union City, N.J., and remembers delivering produce to the mother of Holy Cross great Togo Palazzi and being promised an autograph from the Crusader All-American. The Finkels lived on 35th Street, the Palazzis on 38th, and the Heinsohns on 19th.

▪ Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham wears No. 4, best worn in Foxborough by Adam Vinatieri.

Adam Vinatieri was the last notable No. 4 in Foxborough.The Boston Globe - The Boston Gl/Boston Globe

▪ If there’s no more NHL this year, do the Bruins get the Presidents’ Trophy?

▪ Alex Verdugo’s middle name is Brady.

▪ If this goes on much longer, I may have to watch "Downton Abbey.''

▪ Quiz answers: 1. Tommy Williams and Paul “The Shot” Hurley; 2. Don Chaney.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.