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Tommy Heinsohn

Wednesday 11/11/20

When you're lonely like I am--which I hope is something you're not, given that I am entirely alone--you find small touches of human interaction--even when they are not real forms of interaction--where you can. Maybe they are refractions of actual human interaction. Sometimes for me that's a given announcer or announcers on a sports broadcast. If you discount interviews, I go weeks, months, without talking to another human. That's just the nature of my situation right now. A very bad, very bleak situation. But for instance, during the short baseball season, I'd have on the Red Sox broadcast, less so for the team, than to hear three friends in the booth conversing.

This is sad, I know. Is it pathetic? I don't think I'm pathetic. I think this is an insanely hellish life right now, which is a result of virtues, character, abilities, not negative qualities. Which I grant is hard for a person to understand or accept, if they haven't been following along. But that doesn't change the reality and what I know the reality to be. A person I always liked to listen to during this stretch was Celtics' broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn, and I was sad yesterday to see that he died. I'd find myself checking his age, every now and again--like I forgot--because I enjoyed having him going strong, listening to his broadcasts. I've seen his paintings in Rockport art galleries, and I admired that he was always himself, and had so many passions. He was articulate and spirited, and if you liked him, that was great, and if you didn't, that was your right, and he was going to be who he was going to be. Not a lot of that left in the world. He knew the game of basketball so well, could give you that insight that only a few can--in part because he was so candid. Never mealy-mouthed. Plus, he was funny. Boston has had a number of great broadcasters--Fred Cusick, Ned Martin--but Heinsohn was right up there for me.

People got on him for being a homer, but his passion really went both ways, I'd say. He'd get on the Celtics. And because I'm so into sports history, I watch all of these old games. In the 1980s Heinsohn did national broadcasts--like of the Celtics in the Finals--and you'd never know he was a green guy through and through. Which spoke to his professionalism. He'd been calling Celtics games for almost all of my life--and certainly all of my viewing life. Tremendous player, too. Big-time player. Bill Russell said something wise yesterday, about how we have so few true friends in this life. Russell made it sound like maybe you have one, two, three. And that's Russell--who's met so many people, lived for so long. I don't have a single one right now. That's right now. I hope I'll have some in the future. But listening to Heinsohn gave me a kind of taste, and also provided comfort. I really enjoyed him.


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