New England loves Jerry Remy. A local kid (Somerset, Mass.), Remy was an All-Star second baseman with the Red Sox. He was part of the 1978 one-game playoff and got a big hit off Hall of Famer Rich Gossage in the ninth inning of the Bucky Dent game. Retiring as a player in 1986, the Rem Dawg has been in our living rooms almost every night of the last 30 summers as part of NESN’s broadcast team.
Nothing’s been easy for Remy. Learning to get comfortable in the broadcast booth was difficult, but that was a cinch compared to a series of personal crises that have plagued his everyday life. Remy has been clinically depressed for decades, a condition first detected when he suffered panic attacks in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, a lifetime of smoking poisoned his body, and he’s been battling cancer since 2008, suffering five relapses. Worst of all, in 2013 Remy’s son, Jared, murdered Jennifer Martel, who was Jared’s fiancee and the mother of their young daughter. Jared Remy will be in prison for the rest of his life.
Jerry Remy has put it all down in book form, producing “If These Walls Could Talk,’’ a Triumph Books publication, scheduled for release Tuesday. Remy writes about his baseball and broadcasting careers — and his opinions on the Red Sox — before detailing his personal hardships and horrors in chapters at the back of the book entitled, “Depression,’’ “Dealing With Cancer,” and “Jared.’’
Compounding the ethos and emotion of this tome, the book is coauthored by the late Nick Cafardo, who was a dominant and loving baseball voice on these pages for more than 30 years. Nick died suddenly outside the Red Sox spring training clubhouse on Feb. 21, just days after completing the manuscript with Remy.
“The whole idea of the book was originally to talk about the Red Sox,’’ Remy said over the telephone early Thursday. “But I felt like if I do a book, I felt it was time to release some of the stuff I’ve been going through in my life. Obviously, I couldn’t do a book without dealing with my son, and I tried to do that the best I possibly could without getting too deep because if you get too deep it sounds like you’re making excuses. I think we handled that chapter fairly well.”
Remy dodged little in the “Jared” chapter, writing, “It’s the guilt that’s consuming. We will live with this tragedy for the rest of our lives . . . While Jared is our son, what he did was unforgivable.’’
“We made some adjustments in that chapter after Nick passed where I felt I went in a little too deep on Jared,’’ recalled Remy. “Jared knows there’s a book coming out, but he hasn’t seen it yet. Our relationship is good, so he’s not going to have a problem with it. And if he does, too bad. It’s something that happened.
“I wanted to kind of get some of these things out to the public — especially the depression part of it. People get depressed all the time and they don’t know what to do about it. I just want to let ’em know that the same thing happened to me and we were able to do some things to take care of it. If it helps anybody in that way, I think it’s a good thing.
“It took us a long time to get the book completed because I was dealing with the cancer. We finally got it done, and then Nick passed away in spring training. We had completed the book, but it had to be gone through again. My wife, Phoebe, and I cleaned up the final chapters.’’
Is Remy nervous about the book finally landing in stores?
“I’m not nervous, no,’’ he said. “It’s honest. It’s my life. I don’t think there’s anything to be nervous about. I really hope down deep, that the whole book, especially the parts that deal with depression, can help people. I had no reason before this to write a book. The stuff that I’ve been through, I think people would like to hear and say, ‘Someone that we see all the time has the same problems that we do.’ I felt like I had something to talk about besides being in the booth. I felt the [depression] part of the book was most important because it would have an impact on some people.’’
When Remy’s cancer returned for the fifth time last year, he thought his broadcast career might be over.
“I thought NESN would have had enough of me being sick,’’ he recalled. “I thought I might have done my last game.’’
Did he fear death?
“This was the closest that I felt I was going to die,’’ Remy acknowledged. “We were running out of options. They were talking about removing a lung. But we elected for a trial treatment that I’m in now, which has been fabulous, but I honestly thought that might have been it.’’
“If These Walls Could Talk” features a foreword by Remy’s former broadcast partner Sean McDonough, an afterword by another favorite partner Don Orsillo, and a closing homage to Cafardo.
“It’s so sad to see that this book has come out without him here to enjoy it, but hopefully it serves as a tribute to him,’’ writes Remy.
Remy was not with the Red Sox in London or Toronto but has been watching daily.
Anything to say about the 2019 Red Sox?
“I still think they’ve got a chance for postseason play,” he said. “The first-place thing I’m not thinking about, but there’s still an option, and I honestly believe in my heart they are going to play better. They are too good not to. If they get the bullpen straight I think they’ll have a chance to get to the playoffs and do some damage in the playoffs.’’
(Remy will be signing copies of his book at the Brookline Booksmith on Tuesday and at the Barnes & Noble in Framingham on Wednesday. Both signings are at 7 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the ALS Foundation in Nick Cafardo’s honor.)
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.