They had no children, or rather, they had hundreds of them. Tom's coddling of players was often blamed for Boston's failure to win a world championship, even though they were in the World Series in 1946, '67 and '75. When he died in '76, the good old boys who ran the Red Sox assumed Jean wasn't interested in the club's operation, but they were wrong, and she became a limited partner. In '83 she won a vicious court battle for controlling interest in the team. In her remaining years she became the unchallenged boss while continuing her husband's good works with the Jimmy Fund, a charity that benefits children with cancer, and endowing a new wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Her closest brush with the limelight occurred at the end of the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. With the Red Sox one out away from their first world title in 68 years, she was standing on a podium in the clubhouse, ready to receive the World Series trophy on national TV. But then the Mets rallied, and suddenly and quietly she was whisked away.
She left the scene in much the same way last week, alas, without that trophy. There is some uncertainty surrounding the control of the Red Sox, but it is hoped that whoever inherits the team at 4 Yawkey Way will continue the tradition of generosity established by Tom and furthered by Jean.
There may have been no one closer to her than Red Sox great Ted Williams. As Teddy Ball-game said of Mrs. Yawkey last week, "What a terrific gal she was."
—CHARLES P. PIERCE
Up from the Canvas
Francisco Sánchez refuses to be counted out
Things were not looking good for little Francisco (Pancho) Sánchez at this time last year. Pancho, a 5'1" 18-year-old from Mexico City, had trained for months in a dank Chicago gym, preparing for his debut as an amateur boxer in the 1991 Chicago Golden Gloves tournament. Entered in the 112-pound weight class, he drew a pass all the way to the finals, held in the suburban Rosemont Horizon arena, because there was only one other youth in his weight class. Then, just minutes before what would have been his first bout ever, Pancho stepped on the scale and was told he had not made weight.
It was as though water had been spilled in front of a man dying of thirst. Pancho wept uncontrollably; he had no father, mother or relative present to console him. Boxing was more than a sport to him, it was going to be his salvation. School was hard for Pancho, he was poor, and his family was split between the U.S. and Mexico. Boxing was the one thing that could bring him pride. But now even that had vanished.
I had been following Pancho and his 18-year-old boxing buddy, Juan Soto, as they prepared for the Golden Gloves (SI, Sept. 9, 1991), and my heart ached as I watched him cry. Now he was going to become just another inner-city kid with splintered dreams, another kid ready for drugs, gangs and crime.
But Pancho fooled me. He came back from that nine count.
He trained down to 106 pounds, fought in a couple of amateur bouts and then entered this year's Golden Gloves. In his very first fight at St. Andrew's Gym near Wrigley Field last week, he took an early pounding from 16-year-old Raul Carrillo before catching the gangly youth with a left hook to the temple and knocking him to the mat. Pancho won in a split decision, and out of sheer ecstasy, he did a front flip that nearly broke his neck. With his arm around his new girlfriend, María Arroyo, Pancho—nose still bleeding from the fight—could not stop smiling.