When Ryan Lavarnway belted 8 home runs during a 10-game stretch in mid-July, his Pawtucket teammates started calling him “Babe”… as in Ruth.
They had no idea what that meant to the 24-year-old slugger.
“I actually have been obsessed with Babe Ruth since I was a little kid,” Lavarnway told me. “I ended up writing a 20-page term paper about him at Yale. I read the version of his autobiography that he typed on his typewriter with coffee stains and editing marks on it. So I have a pretty close relationship with him – as close as it can be since he’s not living and I didn’t actually know him. It was pretty cool that the guys started joking around like that because I have such affection for him.”
(Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
After making his major league debut on August 18th and spending eight days with Boston, Lavarnway returned to the PawSox on Monday and lived up to his nickname with a “Ruthian” home run at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. The towering shot over the left field wall was Lavarnway’s 31st HR of the season and helped Pawtucket split a doubleheader against Scranton/WB, winning the second game 2-0 after losing the opener 3-0.
Since Lehigh Valley dropped both games of a doubleheader against Syracuse, the PawSox have a 2-game lead over the second-place IronPigs in the IL North with six games remaining.
“Hopefully, I can get back up (to Boston) after I help Pawtucket clinch a playoff spot,” Lavarnway said. “I’m going to assume I’m here until I hear otherwise.”
Lavarnway did well in his first major league stint, batting .304 with 2 2B and 3 RBI in 7 games with the Red Sox.
“I’m pretty happy about it,” Ryan said. “I’ve been getting some grief about not hitting a homer up there from just about everybody that I know, but I had a great time, we won some games, and I was happy to be there. Hopefully I get back up there and help the team win.”
Naturally, Lavarnway was subjected to some good-natured rookie hazing.
“I had to carry water bottles and drinks for the guys on the bus and hand them out – that was about it,” Ryan said. “Major league baseball for the players is definitely a fraternity and the fact that they kind of make you earn your way makes you feel like you belong once you’ve served your time.”
According to Lavarnway, he has to spend at least seven days with Pawtucket before he’s eligible to return to Boston. Manager Terry Francona publically stated that Ryan will be recalled as soon as possible, so Lavarnway is likely to rejoin the Red Sox on Monday, September 5th in time for a 7-game road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay. Since his first major league games were in Kansas City and Texas, Ryan is looking forward to eventually getting to play in a big league game at Fenway Park.
“I’m definitely excited about my first experience at Fenway,” Lavarnway said. “The Fenway faithful have been great to me coming up through the minor leagues with all of the support they’ve shown, so I’m excited to get up there for that.”
It’s about time there was another Babe at Fenway Park.
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The PawSox will look to take another step toward their first division title since 2003 as they open a 2-game series at Rochester on Tuesday at 7:05. Pawtucket is expected to have Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew in the lineup as they begin brief 2-game rehab stints.
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