Butterfield is living his dream
Mohegan — Before anything else, Brian Butterfield was a New Englander at heart.
Butterfield, now the Boston Red Sox third base coach, lists one of his most memorable Christmas presents ever as a University of Maine baseball jersey, given to him by his father, Jack, when Jack was the program's head coach in the 1960s.
"He used to take me to Fenway to see games," Butterfield said. "I remember the first view I ever had walking into the park was of the Green Monster. And the first player I ever saw was Carl Yastrzemski, standing in front of the dugout. We could have left right then.
"I always dreamed of playing for the Red Sox. This season was a dream come true ... even better than I thought it would be."
Butterfield, in his first season as a member of the Red Sox coaching staff, coming over with manager John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays, was one of three members of the Red Sox - plus Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey - to appear at the World Baseball Coaches' Convention on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Relief pitcher Craig Breslow and utility infielder John McDonald, an East Lyme High School graduate, were the other members of the Red Sox at the convention.
McDonald, 39, who just completed his 15th major league season, has not yet signed a contract for 2014, calling his status "wait and see mode."
"I never thought that I'd make it to the big leagues," McDonald said. "But here we are. ... When I finished my last game at Providence, I was crying like a baby; I thought I had played my last baseball game. All you need is an opportunity. If somebody's going to give me an opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of it."
Butterfield, a former second baseman who made it to Triple-A in the New York Yankees organization and later managed in the minor leagues for the Yankees, got his opportunity this season to be a part of the Red Sox, the team he always admired growing up.
Butterfield's dad, later the vice president in charge of scouting and player development for the Yankees, and his uncle Jim Butterfield, who later won three Division III national championships as the head coach of the Ithaca College football team, both attended Maine.
Butterfield followed at Maine as a freshman before heading to Valencia Community College and Florida Southern. He and his wife Jan still reside in Standish, Maine in the Portland area, with Butterfield rooting heartily for the New England Patriots.
He and McDonald conducted a session at the convention in the afternoon on infield play. Butterfield said he instructs Boston rookie Xander Bogaerts to emulate McDonald technique-wise.
Later, in a "Talking Baseball" session open to all the convention's attendees, emcee Ed Randall of WFAN asked McDonald about moving around so often in 2013 until he hit Boston.
"I was looking in my kids' closet the other day and they had five jerseys, just from this season, they all fit. I thought, 'That's not good.' But it's not always up to me."
While the group kidded Breslow, the Yale graduate, about his choice of words, which included "ambivalence," "obtuse" and "autonomous" - "What the hell is ambivalence, anyway?" Butterfield asked him - McDonald described the Red Sox as a team which was focused on winning.
"I'm not surprised we won," McDonald said. "These guys made a T-shirt before the playoffs and they put a duck boat (what the Red Sox rode in their World Series celebration) on it. Who does that?"
"Tough, unselfish and intelligent," Butterfield called the team.
The convention, in its 11th season, continues today. The softball portion will also take place today, including NFCA Hall of Famer Hall of Famer and Hofstra coach Bill Edwards, USA softball outfielder and ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza and NFCA Hall of Famer and legendary former UCLA coach Sue Enquist.
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