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Ted Williams was driven around the field by longtime Red Sox employee Al Forester before the 1999 All-Star Game.
Ted Williams was driven around the field by longtime Red Sox employee Al Forester before the 1999 All-Star Game.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

When planning the memorable appearance by Ted Williams at the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox chose groundskeeper Al Forester to drive him to the mound to throw out the first pitch.

“That was our recommendation to Major League Baseball because Al had known Ted for a long time and we felt Ted would be comfortable with him,” said Dick Bresciani, a Red Sox vice president emeritus and the team’s historian. “And Al was known for driving relief pitchers in from the bullpen.”

In a way, it was only fitting that Mr. Forester drive the cart. Williams put in a good word for Mr. Forester when the team hired him in 1957, and the two became friends over the years.

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“The World Series rings he received in 2004 and 2007 were Al’s pride and joy,” said Mr. Forester’s daughter, Lisa, of Richmond, “but he said that being Ted’s eyes at the All-Star Game, telling him whose hand he was shaking, was the shining moment of his years with the Red Sox.”

Mr. Forester, who worked for the team for 52 seasons, died Oct. 22 in a Winchester nursing center. He was 91 and lived in Woburn most of his life.

Usually arriving at Fenway around 6:30 a.m., his pre-game routine as groundskeeper included preparing the pitcher’s mound, batter’s boxes, and infield. Before seats were installed above the Green Monster, he also climbed a ladder after batting practice to the top of the left field wall to retrieve baseballs from the netting.

During rain delays, he helped cover the infield, and he dragged the dirt to smooth its surface.

“Fans have no idea how difficult it is to get that tarpaulin over the infield,” Mr. Forester told the Globe in 1966. “And when you have to do it more than once during a game, it’s murder.”

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When Williams took early batting practice, Mr. Forester gave up his lunch hour to shag balls for the great slugger.

“One day I was out there in right field when he hit the ball over my head,” Mr. Forester recalled in the 1989 book “Baseball Lives,” by Mike Bryan. “I caught it before it went into the grandstand. He kind of blasted me because he wanted to see if it would go out. But other than that he’s just been great.”

Mr. Forester, along with other clubhouse employees, accompanied Williams to Cooperstown, N.Y., when Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

Carl Yastrzemski also appreciated Mr. Forester. Through a spokesman, the Hall of Fame outfielder said Mr. Forester was “always available to set up the cage” when he needed extra batting practice.

“Albert loved every minute of it,” said Mr. Forester’s brother Frank of Hudson, N.H. “He had the key to every door in the park and he knew every corner and crevice.”

After a 1996 snowstorm, he cleared a path to the scoreboard door.
After a 1996 snowstorm, he cleared a path to the scoreboard door.Frank O’Brien/Globe Staff/File

Mr. Forester also had a close relationship with Tom Yawkey, the late Red Sox owner. Yawkey played pepper with Mr. Forester, who had played baseball as a youth and coached for the Woburn Little League.

According to former Red Sox chief executive John Harrington, Yawkey set aside money in his estate to be distributed to longstanding non-uniformed personnel, including Mr. Forester.

“Al was one of the truly faithful employees and was highly respected by both Tom and Jean Yawkey,” Harrington said of the former owner and his wife. “Both our and the visiting pitchers also respected the expert care he gave to the mound — just to their liking.”

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In “Baseball Lives,” Mr. Forester described the post-game process of repairing the mound.

“After the game you take a broom and sweep out the holes in front of the rubber and put a little water on them,” he said of the indentations left when a pitcher followed through in his delivery.

After that, he added, “you come in with your new clay, which is in a bucket, and pound it down. Just like making bread dough.”

Mr. Forester was experienced at working on soil with his hands. Along with his four brothers, all of whom attended high school in Woburn and served in the military during World War II, he purchased a greenhouse in Woburn in 1947. They grew plants and flowers for shops they owned and operated for 29 years in West Medford and Winchester.

Mr. Forester, who had served as a Navy radar operator in the Pacific, applied for the job at Fenway because he loved baseball, according to his brother, but he always helped out at the flower shops when needed.

“He actually got the Red Sox job with the help of Ted Williams, who used to buy his cars at Moody Cadillac in Winchester,” Frank said. “Our older brother, Charlie, asked the dealer, Hiram Moody, who used to come to our flower shop, if he would mention Albert’s desire to work at Fenway to Williams. Ted said he’d see what he could do and not long after, Albert got the call to come to the park.”

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Medford native Bill Monbouquette, a longtime Red Sox pitcher, knew the Forester family.

“Al would do absolutely anything for you and it seemed everybody knew him. I loved the guy,” Monbouquette said. “When the great Yankees teams came to town and just filled the left field screen with baseballs at batting practice, I used to kid Al that ‘it’s going to be a busy day on that ladder for you.’ ”

Mr. Forester married Rochelle Lafayette in 1977 and adopted her daughter, Lisa. The Foresters lived in New Hampshire until their divorce, and then Mr. Forester returned to his hometown.

“Being around the Red Sox and Fenway with Al was a unique and exciting way to grow up,” his daughter said.

In his last years with the Red Sox, Mr. Forester worked with the security department.

“He really enjoyed doing whatever he could for you,” said former Boston manager Joe Morgan, whose wife, Dot, gave Mr. Forester a bag of candy before every homestand as a way of saying thanks.

A service has been held for Mr. Forester, who in addition to his daughter and brother leaves two grandchildren.

“Every day I went to Fenway Al was there with a smile on his face,” said Red Sox bullpen coach Dana LeVangie. “Then when he got to drive Mr. Williams on the field, you realized how important he was to the Red Sox.”

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Williams, who died in 2002, often paid a subtle tribute to his longtime friend. When registering at hotels or hunting and fishing lodges, the slugger ensured his privacy by signing the register “Al Forester.”


Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.