I first met my friend Andy in Baltimore in 2007, where a handful of us met up before a game against the Orioles. I liked him on the spot.
So did Rakes.
Even though he's only 6, Rakes has this inner radar/BS detector that I've never seen in someone so young. He can instantly decide whether he thinks someone is real or if they are putting him on, from co-workers to people at church to some random kid he meets at the park.
He took to "Mr. Andy" from the get go.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about Andy. How the love of the Red Sox started a friendship between a rugged carpenter from Maine with worn callouses on his hands and an aversion to air conditioning and a southern boy who can't screw in a lightbulb and is all about climate control. Two men from two totally different parts of the country with two totally different backgrounds became friends thanks to the Internet and the Red Sox.
And a little boy named Rakes.
Believe me when I tell you, Rakes LOVED "Mr. Andy." Loved his long hair, big mustache and "funny voice." After each game with Andy that we saw Rakes would talk the whole way home about when he could see him again, when would he come stay with us and could he go and visit Andy sometime. Rakes never met anyone he didn't know but he's met a bunch he didn't like so this wasn't ordinary behavior from him; he genuinely loved Andy.
Andy died a week ago today at 7:38 a.m.
He was 61 years old.
I'm going to miss my friend. I'll miss talking to him and watching games with him and it's pretty hard to believe I won't see him again. But I'll be forever grateful I got the chance to get to know him and that Rakes did as well.Safe travels, Andy.
YOU CAN READ ANDY'S OBITUARY HERE. I THINK IT CAPTURES HIM PERFECTLY.