Sunday, August 6, 2017

CATCHING UP WITH JOHN MARTIN


11 years.

That may seem like a long time, but I found that once I turned 40-years-old, life seems to
morph into a frenetic sprint to finish what was started in the 1960's. A year goes by like a summer,
a month goes by like a week, and a week is over before a rooster can see the sun rise in the east.

Some days I feel like screaming, "Whoa, slow the heck down! What the heck is the rush?!"

It had been 11 years since I had seen John Martin. We were co-workers at NESN in Boston
and often paired together in that dream world of covering sports in the one of the greatest cities
on the planet.

We weren't best friends but we shared some amazing, if not hilarious moments during our
assignments covering the New England Patriots. There were road trips to Pittsburgh, Denver,
Charlotte, and many other places along the way. John was a true professional as a videographer.
He didn't work by the clock or for the paycheck, but rather for the love of the job and the amount
of pride he took in it.

We never looked for the approval of a higher-ups at the station, but rather each other. We had
very high standards and knew when our product was damn good or just good. We sugarcoated
nothing and never looked for a pat on the back from others.

I'm not sure we ever said good-bye when I departed NESN in the late summer of 2006.
Perhaps, it was because there was an understanding that our paths would someday cross again
in the business. It happens more often than not in the world of sports television.

Except that it didn't.

There was the occasional text, tweet, or phone call out of nowhere. But other than that Martin
may as well has been in Bangkok. I may as well have been in Anchorage. Our paths didn't come
close to intersecting. But we were still friends through and through.


Over the course of those 11 years since we last saw each other, things changed. A lot. There
were new jobs and moves to new cities for me. And life changed in the blink of an eye for
Martin in the cruelest of ways.

Last October, Martin was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gerhig's disease.  He stepped away
from a career that he loved and where he was universally respected. His life as he knew it,
was put on pause. Martin, with an amazing wife, Adrienne, and two beautiful girls, Kaia and
Gabby, have to battle a disease that has never lost.

Life is not fair. Anyone who has lived on this earth long enough knows bad things often
happen to the best of people. John Martin is the very best of people. And as I've told others,
he's as solid in character as the 150-year-old oak tree that stands strong and proudly in the
middle of the forest.

Very few people escape the world without dealing with some form of hardship or tragedy. I
realize diseases don't discriminate, but this just didn't seem fair.


I planned on being in Boston during the weekend of August 4-6 and reached out to Martin
as I wanted to see my former co-worker whom I enjoyed so many great times with. It was
extremely important to me.

When my girlfriend, Kim, and I pulled up to his home in Newton, nothing at all really
seemed to change. There was John in his baseball hat and sunglasses with that trademark
mile-wide grin on his face. That was the JPM I knew.

We never embraced when we worked together. There was no time for any kind of man-love
on the job. We were too busy and besides, we weren't in to the Roger Goodell hug-a-draft
pick kind of thing anyway.

But that changed when I saw him. I gave him a long embrace hoping it would take away
just a little bit of the overwhelming pain that he's been dealing with it. We shared a lot of
stories and some good laughs over the next 90 minutes.

However, the effects of the wretched disease has started to take its toll. Martin said there
is weakness on the left side of his body. He now wears a brace to stabilize his left leg. JPM
can no longer stand for long periods of time. It is heartbreaking

The entire Boston sports and television community has rallied around JPM to make things
a little better for him and his family. Financial contributions continue to come in after his
diagnosis in October.

Several weeks ago, Steve Buckley, the longtime sportswriter for the Boston Herald and
founder of a long-running Old-Timers game, announced this year's event would benefit
Martin in his battle against ALS. It's a wonderful gesture by Buckley to honor and help
out a wonderful person in Martin.

John showed me the old-time uniform he'll be wearing on August 17, the date of the game.
It's retro Los Angeles Angels uniform, which Martin requested since the Angels are
the name of the youth baseball team he has coached in Dorchester for the last 30 years.

Even better, Pedro Martinez, the baseball hall of famer and Red Sox great who will be
pitching in the game, has stated that he will pick up Martin at his home in Newton and
take him to the game.

How cool is that?

Martin deserves it. He is a great man who happens to be battling a terrible disease. The
game on August 17 may feature Pedro Martinez, but it will be all about John Martin. It's
his day to get the recognition he deserves. He earned it during his 19 years as a videographer
for NESN.

There aren't many people like John Martin.

I realized that when we worked together and it was reinforced as we embraced again
before I headed back to Connecticut . He is truly a special person.

There are moments when I wish time would just stand still so we can give the people we
love and care for all the help they need to get through difficult times. But I know life doesn't
work that way as it waits for no one.

I hope the great people of New England and beyond continue to help out Martin and his
family by providing some financial assistance to Martin. The tough times will only get tougher.

He needs our support.

He deserves our support.

Please contribute. A little goes a long way for Martin and his family.

https://www.gofundme.com/jmartinfund

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