Monday, July 23, 2012

Boston Red Legged Boys

by guest blogger Dave Pasquarello

The Boston Red Legged Boys story begins with my grandfather, Ragnar Benson, who worked as a hawker at Fenway Park from 1914 through 1918. He was only 10 years old when he attended opening day at Fenway in 1912. The hawkers (vendors who yell out and sell popcorn, peanuts, crackerjacks, etc.) had to arrive at Fenway Park early, in order to get their section assignments for each game.

Well, at one of those games, Babe Ruth was scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox and his catcher wasn't ready to warm him up. So what did The Babe do about that? He looked right at my grandfather and said, "hey kid, grab a glove!”  My grandfather didn't hesitate, and he proceeded onto the field and warmed up Babe Ruth! He re-told that story every year when he would take me to opening day, which was always played at Fenway Park on Patriots Day/ Boston Marathon Day. And the Red Sox always opened up against those dreaded Yankees!

 I'll never forget those days with my grandfather! And I'll never forget how animated he became when he told me about "Catching The Babe"!!! I know that there are millions of stories about the Red Sox out there and they're all woven together throughout Red Sox Nation. One is just as special as the next, all connected, and all very special! I hope that you'll add Boston Red Legged Boys to your playlist and think of your own special Red Sox story, while you're listening to a little bit of mine. A share of proceeds will go to The Karen A. Martin 9/11 Memorial Fund and to The Jimmy Fund.

 "Boston Red Legged Boys" Words and Music by Dave Pasquarello (c) 2008 Piano and Vocals by Dave Pasquarello Bass, Drums & Guitar by.The Darkroom Blues Band (Featuring Pete Morse on Lead Guitar). Recorded @ Red Vault Recording, Portland, Maine on Patriot's Day 2012 Released on May, 2, 2012. Produced by Pete Morse and Dave Pasquarello.

Here are some links for my music and videos:

Please visit the official 9/11 Memorial Museum and view my portfolio;

Please check out my 9-11 tribute song "Towers" on YouTube

An additional note from Dave Pasquarello: “Boston Red Legged Boys is being featured in a new documentary film called Brick by Brick, Stories of Fenway...My Mother and I were interviewed and will be in the film. They love the song and the story about my grandfather too. My songs Towers and Freedom Soldier are also being featured in a documentary film called One Tuesday Morning......and Towers (song & video) is archived at the official 9/11 Memorial & Museum in NYC. Both documentary films are to be released this fall. My connection to 9/11 and the story of my music making is posted at the 9/11 Memorial/Museum site.”

You can hear a clip of Red Legged Boys at these links:

Ragnar Benson on "Haughty Girl"
from Dave Pasquarello's Myspace page

There is a long history between my family and the Pasquarello family.  Dave’s Mom (maiden name of Benson) and my Dad went to high school together, in Massachusetts at Beverly High School.  Then Dave’s Mom went on to Beverly Hospital School of Nursing, where she was in the same class as my Mom.   Dave’s parents introduced my parents to each other at Lynch Park in Beverly.  My Mom and Dad were married in 1958. 

I always called Dave’s grandparents “Nana and Papa Benson”, as if they were a third set of grandparents.  Dave and his brothers and sister were close in age to me and my sister.  When we were all living in Beverly, we lived nearby each other.  Even after moving away to central Massachusetts, whenever we came back to Beverly to visit relatives we would visit the Pasquerellos and Bensons.

Dave’s grandfather, mentioned above, was recorded as Ragnar Wagner Napoleon Benson on his birth record in Boston, Massachusetts on 30 January 1902 (Mass. VR, volume 523, page 7)  The page of the record book is in very poor shape, and it is torn so much of the good genealogical information is missing.

Ragnar's birthname is listed on line 5

In the 1910 Census Ragnar was 8 years old, living in Revere with his father, Robert, and mother, Ragnhild, immigrants from Sweden.  In the 1920 Census Ragnar was living at 52 Astor Street in Boston with his mother and brother.  He was 17 at the time, and his occupation is listed as a clerk at a leather manufacturer.   In the 1930s he is listed in Boston Directories as a leather sorter, living at 22 Rowell Street in Dorchester with his wife Catherine Elizabeth, and then by 1934 Ragnar and Catherine Elizabeth had removed to 25 Abington Avenue in Salem.  By 1950 they appeared in the Beverly directories, living at 17 Winthrop Avenue, which is the address I remember for Nana and Papa Benson.

According to the Florida Death Index online at, Ragnar Werner Benson died on 6 February 1978. 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Dave Pasquarello

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather-
    This is very kind of you! Thanks for taking the time to post this story on your blog! My grandfather, Ragnar Werner Napoleon Benson, is smiling down on us for sure!
    Here are a few more connections between Ragnar Benson and Babe Ruth; Babe's Boston Red Sox debut was on 7-11-1914. Babe was the Red Sox starting pitcher for both games of a doubleheader on 7-11-1916 (never done since, I believe). He pitched 9 shutouts that year! A record that lasted for 62 years! When asked in 1942 what his favorite career moment was, Babe said that it was against the Detroit Tigers when he stuck out Ty Cobb to preserve a 1-0 shutout for the Red Sox on 7-11-1917. Ragnar Benson got married on 7-11-1922...I'm quite sure that he picked 7-11, because it had always been such a lucky day for his boyhood idol Babe Ruth. Lastly, Babe was born on February 6th, grandfather Ragnar died on February 6th, 1978.
    I hope that Boston Red Legged Boys brings a heavenly smile down from the Babe and from the kid, Ragnar Benson, who warmed him up at Fenway Park way back in 1916.
    Thanks again for sharing this story Heather! I hope that you and all of your subscribers enjoy the song too! A share of proceeds goes to The Karen A. Martin 9/11 Memorial Fund and to Children's Cancer Research.