Lenny Megliola: True Red Sox fans will love 'Rooters'
Rap fans still recognize him as Prime Minister Pete Nice of the seminal group 3rd Bass. That’s like third base, which is an appropriate segue into Peter Nash, a.k.a. Prime Minister Pete Nice.
If 3rd Bass, co-founded by Nash, was about revving up an audience, third base, as it fits baseball, is where Nash’s heart is these days
As a rapper, Nash reached out to fans. As the writer and co-producer of the feature film “Rooters. The Birth of Red Sox Nation,” he is telling the story of fans. Boston’s fans, right from the beginning. Nash is also a baseball historian. He’s even lived in Cooperstown. “I was 11 when I started researching baseball history.”
Library 1, playground 0.
“I was doing research on the history of baseball fans in general,” says the 40-year-old Nash. Once he got to Boston Public Library, in 2004, he was swept away in the lore of Red Sox fans with names like Screaming Lolly Hopkins and ‘Nuf-Ced McGreevey. They, and their ilk, were on the ground floor of what we call Red Sox Nation now. The old-timers, “the rooters, were pretty-much established,” says Nash, “and it’s an ongoing, continuous tradition.”
Nash was fascinated by the rooters’ devotion to the Red Sox. “That’s an irony,” he says. “I’m a New Yorker who got obsessed with Boston baseball.”
The timing for “Rooters” (the DVD is selling well) couldn’t be better with Red Sox interest at its peak after yet another World Series championship. Nash didn’t jump on Boston’s 2004 bandwagon. “The idea (for ‘Rooters’) was out there. After they won (in 2004) it just solidified that we’ve got to tell the story.”
The origin of passionate Red Sox fans traces to 250 fanatics who took their cues from JFK’s grandfather, Honey “Fitz” Fitzgerald, Boston’s mayor and Michael “’Nuf-Ced” McGreevey, a saloon keeper. If you were a “Royal Rooter” you had status. Nash’s film is loaded with rare photos and archival film and weaves into the present madness over the Red Sox. Baseball icons Johnny Pesky and Peter Gammons give their take on Red Sox fans in the film. Gammons reveals a wonderful personal story about the Red Sox winning it all in 2004.
Who follows baseball teams and why has always fascinated Nash. “A friend of mine owned a vacant Mobil station in Cooperstown that I wanted to convert to a fans’ hall of fame.” He made plans, but ultimately the building had to be demolished before the hall of fame opened.
“Rooters” shows that “fourth and fifth-generation diehard Red Sox fans have a strong connection to their ancestors,” Nash says. “The story has legs.”
Nash started his rap group after graduating from Columbia in 1989. 3rd Bass toured for four years. It had gigs in Wembley Stadium in London and Dodger Stadium. It shared stages with mega-rappers Public Enemy, L.L. Cool J and Tupac.
Baseball hall-of-famer Eddie Murray was the Los Angeles hitting coach when 3rd Bass played Dodger Stadium. Murray was never known as Mt. Warmth as a player. “You heard stories about him,” Nash says. “But with a couple of rappers he was great. We were his guests at the games.”
Nash knew the legendary gangsta persona Tupac before he made it big. “When he was with us I was giving him money to get a Whopper.”
In 1992, 3rd Bass split up to do solo records.
Nash wonders what the state of mind of Red Sox fans would be if Dave Roberts hadn’t stolen second base, which led to a historic comeback from three games down against the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS. “I don’t know if the franchise could’ve survived that, after Aaron Boone.”
NESN showing an edited version of “Rooters” has bumped sales of the DVD. So has word of mouth. The film, directed by Anthony Moreschi and Ian McFarland, needed a narrator. Word was put out on the Internet.
“We had over 500 responses,” Nash says.
The notice was spotted by Christine Adams, wife of Mike Adams, the host of WEEI’s popular show Planet Mikey. Adams happens to be a funny guy doing sports talk. “But there’s another side to him besides the comical,” says Nash.
“Rooters” brings that out. Adams was hired as narrator. His professional acumen has drawn praise. Nash was amazed how fast Adams absorbed the script. “He’s a one-take wonder.”
If you’re a Red Sox fan, a Rooter, see for yourself what the fuss is all about.
Lenny Megliola is a Daily News columnist. His e-mail is email@example.com