Massachusetts Loves a Winner

ByABC News
January 31, 2007, 10:28 AM

Jan. 31, 2007 — -- On July 25, 2004, the Red Sox and Yankees tussled at Boston's historic Fenway Park.

The then-presumptive Democratic nominee for president was Massachusetts' own John Kerry. On the campaign trail, Kerry had routinely professed to be a die-hard Sox fan, even though in an interview a month earlier he had named as his all-time favorite Sox player a man who had never actually played for the Red Sox.

In order to demonstrate his Ordinary Joe bona fides to a watchful and suspicious nation, Kerry made a splashy show of attending that evening's game.

To celebrate Kerry's rare mingling with the hoi polloi, Kerry's handlers cooked up a typically misguided plan in which Kerry would toss out the ceremonial first pitch while an Army veteran who had just returned from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq served as his personal catcher.

In so doing, Kerry would bask in the affection of his local fan base as well as honor America's military.

The plan quickly went awry. Much to Team Kerry's surprise, the putative local hero was greeted by more boos than cheers by the Fenway faithful. When the time came to toss the first pitch, Kerry embarrassed himself by weakly heaving up an anemic lob that barely made it two-thirds of the way to the military man awaiting Kerry's throw. As if all this weren't bad enough, Kerry blamed his pathetic pitch on his catcher, the just-returned Iraq veteran. Kerry asserted, "I held back. He was very nervous. I tried to lob it gently."

Take it from a native -- he never has been. We have a familiarity with him that the rest of the nation lacks. That familiarity has bred contempt. The above anecdote, from the boos that greeted him at Fenway Park to his churlish response to his own womanish throw illustrates both the fact that we don't like him and why we don't like him.

Perhaps you prefer your data in a harder form. If so, there's this: John Kerry got a lower percentage of the presidential vote in Massachusetts than Al Gore did four years ago. What's more, Kerry didn't have Ralph Nader siphoning away votes from him the way Gore did. And if you think Kerry's performance lagged behind Gore's because Bay State residents had developed a fondness for President Bush and his Texas swagger during his four years in office, think again. The only explanation for Kerry's poor performance in '04 compared to Gore's in his home state is because those who know Kerry best like him least.

Dean Barnett is a columnist for and blogs daily at The day the Red Sox won the World Series was the happiest day of his life.