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Tim Naehring and Little Fenway

Naehring's rookie card
   
Tim Naehring made his major league debut on July 15, 1990. His first major league hit came the next night, as he knocked in the Red Sox' only run in a 1-0 victory over the Twins. On the 17th, he hit his first home run, marking the beginning of a Red Sox rally that saw them come from being behind 4-0 to winning 5-4. That home run still stands out as one of Tim's favorite baseball memories.

Tim was a member of the Red Sox from 1990 to 1998. When not bothered by injuries, he had productive offensive numbers and was solid defensively, playing shortstop, second base, and third base skillfully. In 1995, he hit .365 into the middle of June, leading the league. In May of the next year he had an 18-game hitting streak. Unfortunately, an elbow injury in the first half of 1997 sidelined him for the rest of that year and for all of the following season.

Over the years, Naehring became a fan favorite at Fenway. Throughout it all, Tim has always given generously to the community. He founded Athletes Reaching Out, or ARO, which brings athletes together with children to teach them to stay in school and remain drug-free. In addition, he has shown his dedication to the Red Sox by building a Little Fenway Park on his old little league field outside of Cincinnati. He also plans to build a similar park in the Boston area.

On March 1, 1999, Naehring signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. He will also work in the Reds organization in the player develpoment and scouting departments, as well as being an assistant to the general manager. He will continue in the Reds' front office if he is unable to return to action on the diamond.

On this page, you can take a brief tour of Li'l Fenway and find out more about ARO.

Tour Li'l Fenway
Li'l Fenway article
Interview with Citizen's Bank
Career Stats


In 1996, Naehring began construction of "Li'l Fenway Park" in Miamitown, OH, on the little league field he played on as a child. It is a replica of the real Fenway Park, built to scale, and complete with Green Monster and Pesky's Pole. I visited Little Fenway in June of 1997. It's an impressive sight. It looks like a typical little league field, except that instead of perhaps being surrounded by a small fence, large green walls rise up out of the ground! The walls and the dimensions are all correct, capturing the intricacies of Fenway's outfield. It takes a little imagination, though, because the walls are all there, but there aren't 35,000 seats lining the field. Instead of seeing bleachers over the outfield wall, the view is of Interstate 74. All in all, the park looks great, and the youth of Cincinnati are very lucky to have such a great person so active in their community!


A tour of Li'l Fenway Park

The sign behind home plate

The sign behind home plate announces the field's name.


View of left field

The view of left field and center field, including the "triangle." If only the Wendy's billboard on the highway behind center field could be changed to a Citgo sign...


View of right field

Right field captures the shape of the bullpens and contains a replica of Pesky's Pole. That's I-74 where the bleachers would be, but there's no harm in pretending it's the Mass. Pike!


The 'Little' Green Monster

And what tour of Fenway Park would be complete without a stop at the Green Monster? Naehring says that when the park is finished, the wall will have a scoreboard with Tom and Jean Yawkey's initials on it.


Directions to Li'l Fenway Park

From Cincinnati, take I-74 West. Near the Miamitown (OH) exit, Little Fenway will be visible on the left. Take the Miamitown exit (there is only one) and follow the signs.


Builder Naehring a Model Citizen

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff. Boston Globe, 4/20/97.

If the Red Sox are seeking some input on how to build a new stadium, they might want to look inside their own clubhouse.

Third baseman Tim Naehring, who built a replica of Fenway Park on the Cincinnati ballfield on which he played as a kid, is talking with Boston mayor Thomas Menino about building another "Little Fenway" here in Boston, which the player would donate to the city.

And unlike whatever stadium project the ball club launches, Naehring's plan should proceed quickly. They're still looking to line up corporate sponsors, Naehring said, but the project may get a go-ahead by the end of the summer. Naehring and Menino already have talked about some possible sites for the ballpark, the most visible outgrowth of the charitable foundation he has launched, Athletes Reaching Out. Naehring recently negotiated a deal with Citizens Bank in which the bank will donate $150 to ARO for each of his hits this season.

Mo Vaughn, Jose Canseco, and Roger Clemens all donated $5,000 for the Cincinnati "Little Fenway," and Mike Stanley was among 30 other Red Sox players and employees who purchased bricks for the ballpark, which Naehring donated to his hometown.

Naehring laid the sod himself for the Cincinnati field, with the help of a crew that might have been a little young, by the standards of head Fenway groundskeeper Joe Mooney.

"I had about 30 little kids helping me out, 5-year-olds grabbing sod," Naehring said with a laugh. "It took us three days."

Naehring has made a personal financial commitment to his foundation that runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. After signing a two-year deal with the Red Sox last winter that kept him in Boston, Naehring decided to focus his charitable efforts here as well as back home in Cincinnati, where he has enlisted the help of Cincinnati Bengals Jeff Blake and James Francis and University of Cincinnati basketball coach Bob Huggins.

"You should see the park," Naehring said of the Little Fenway there, which opened last fall. "You can see it from the air when you land in Cincinnati, and 40,000 cars a day drive by it on the interstate to Indianapolis."

The Cincinnati facility is a faithful replica of the real deal, Naehring said, built virtually to scale. The Green Monster, Pesky Pole, and the Morse code names of former owners Thomas and Jean Yawkey all will be there when the entire project is completed this fall.

But don't look for any oversized Coke bottles.

"Pepsi gave us $20,000 for a scoreboard," Naehring said.

There will, however, be a home run challenge this fall in which contributors will have the chance to win a car and other prizes. There may even be a million-dollar target for the sluggers-for-a-day.

The financial security he gained by signing his last contract, Naehring said, has given him the means to make an impact in a meaningful way.

"When I came here and started as a young major leaguer, my heart was a lot bigger than my pocketbook," he said. "But I make a very nice living, and not only can I give out of my own pocket, I can use my corporate contacts to market ARO in the city, to build Little Fenways and other projects."

Naehring said that in setting up his foundation, he was looking for a way for athletes to do something beyond just simply giving money. Projects like Little Fenway, or donating a computer room or ballfield to an athlete's high school, are tangible outcomes of a commitment, he said. So are speaking engagements, going into classrooms, and staging golf tournaments.

But beyond making an immediate impact, Naehring has his eye on future generations.

"We have an endowment program starting up in which the athletes and children involved will be endowed by buying life insurance policies," he said. "So when they expire, that money will be given back to the foundation. We're helping today's kids build futures, and tomorrow's children with an endowment program."

Naehring said that sponsors interested in supporting his program, or taking part in his golf tournament July 28 [1997] in Wayland, should contact Jay Monahan at Woolf Associates in Boston at 437-1212.

"I've always felt that being a role model was not our responsibility," he said. "It's an obligation."

This story ran on page d10 of the Boston Globe on 04/20/97.
Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company.


Excerpts from a Citizens Bank com.munity Chat, 10/30/97.

Q: Tim, thanks for coming by tonight.

TN: Thanks for having me.

Q: Let's start with your thoughts on the (1997) World Series... You should know that there are two Cleveland natives in the room...

TN: Happy for the Florida Marlins but I was definitely pulling for the Cleveland Indians. It was very interesting watching the series knowing how close I could have been to being a Cleveland Indian last year.

Q: How close were you to becoming a Cleveland Indian?

TN: I was within one hour, literally one hour, of making a decision of going with the Indians when contract negotiations with the Red Sox opened back up.

Q: What specifically made you stay?

TN: There were many factors involved in my decision. One, the Indians wanted me to play second base. I felt my talents were better suited for third. I have enjoyed playing in Boston for a number of years and this was a small chance for me to repay some loyalty the Red Sox showed me earlier in my career.

Q: Are you happy with your decision to stay?

TN: Yes. Although the season didn't go as well as planned. I'm still happy with my decision to stay in Boston.

Q: So you like the Boston fans?

TN: Of course I like the Boston fans. It's a pleasure to perform each night in front of fans that are knowledgable about the game of baseball. Sometimes it makes it a little tough when things are not going well, because as you and I both know the Boston fans tend to voice their opinion.

Q: On Nightline last Friday, both George Will and Phil Rizutto mentioned that professional athletes, and baseball players more specifically, had lost touch with their communities. Do you think that's too tough an accusation? You've certainly not shied away from connecting with the people of the Boston area.

TN: I do think it is too tough of an accusation against baseball players in general. Besides all the negatives that are exposed through the media there are a lot of positive things happening in the baseball industry. A great number of players are actively involved in the community not for media attention but more importantly they feel an obligation to do so.

Q: You yourself have acted on that obligation. For instance, your involvement with Athletes Reaching Out. Can you tell us about the organization?

TN: ARO is an organized, simplified way for an athlete to give something back to kids. Many times we are asked to give time, money, auction items, or simply a few minutes of our day to help out kids. Our hearts always say yes but our time schedules sometimes say no. ARO gives us an opportunity to positively affect these kids by building facilities, giving college grants, and through our endowment program.

Q: You've even built a "Little Fenway Park" in your hometown of Cincinnati, right? Can you tell us a little more about that?

TN: The Little Fenway Park is a 90% scaled down version of the actual Fenway park. It has cost $750,000 and is being used by kids throughout Cincinnati on a nightly basis. Plans are in place for a Little Fenway here in the Boston area. No matter what happens with my baseball career and where it takes me there will be a Little Fenway built here in Boston.

Q: There are rumors that it could be the only Fenway Park left soon...

TN: Letís hope not. And letís also hope it will be easier to find a place to build Little Fenway then it has been to find a new place to put the new stadium.

Q: Are other Red Sox players involved with your program?

TN: Last year more than 25 representatives from the Red Sox took part in my golf tournament, which happened in July. Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, Jim Corsi, Darren Bragg, Jeff Frye and many others have given time and money to the foundation.

Q: Do families get involved with ARO, too?

TN: Yes. I guess starting with my own; my mother and father are very active in ARO. ARO not only builds facilities but works hand in hand with many special interest groups across the country. With those special interest groups have come a great number of families that have helped out my foundation immensely.

Q: How is Citizens Bank involved with ARO?

TN: Citizens Bank has been very generous with their contributions over the Ď97 season. Not only have they given money but more importantly have supported all the ARO endeavors over the past twelve months. Citizens Bank and other corporations across the country are the backbone of the foundation. Without their help and support, ARO wouldn't be nearly as successful as it is today. I would like to take the time to personally thank them for everything they have done this year and giving me the opportunity to be here tonight.

Q: I saw the Citizens Bank commercial. Any acting plans in the future?

TN: Absolutely not. I do not have enough patience for the acting career.

Q: A lot of athletes don't exactly act in a professional manner. It's hard to explain this to my kids. Any comments?

TN: Although players may forget to realize that they are role models within the heat of a ball game, they should still realize and become professional enough to perform each night with a certain amount of integrity. More importantly, the impact we can possibly make on a daily basis is what I like to concentrate on.

Q: Can anyone join ARO?

TN: Yes. For more information please contact Mike at 617-471-0997. Mike is the ARO representative for the Boston Chapter. He has given his time and efforts for the ARO foundation for more than three years.

Q: What about Nomar Garciaparra... Who does he remind you of?

TN: He doesn't remind me of any particular athlete, but his talents and skills will be fun to watch for the Boston fans for many years to come.

Q: I grew up in the days of two leagues, and I'm not used to interleague play. How do you feel about facing National League teams during the regular season?

TN: I enjoyed it this past year. There are obviously things needed to be worked out amongst both leagues. But I think it's exciting for the players and the fans.

Q: Has it been difficult rehabilitating all season while watching the team struggle?

TN: Yes. One of the hardest things about injuries is you no longer have an active part in what happens to the ball club.

Q: Was it hard to sit on the sidelines?

TN: Yes, but I always seem to have a pretty good seat.

Q: If you leave the Red Sox what will happen with your part in ARO?

TN: ARO is definitely going to outlast my career in Boston and my career in general. ARO is designed to continue after my career is over by utilizing present day athletes no matter what year we are talking about.

Q: What's the single greatest (rewarding) moment you've had as a player?

TN: My first major league home run. It was quite a feeling having thirty-five thousand Red Sox fans standing on their feet for my first major league curtain call.

Q: Do you think baseball will be the same sport in twenty years?

TN: I hope so, but hopefully the games will not be as long. I'd like to thank Citizens Bank for having me here this evening and I thank everyone for their questions and support, and interest in the ARO foundation.


Naehring's Career Stats

Complete career stats from baseball-reference.com

YEAR   TEAM   G   AB   R   H HR RBI  AVG  OBP  SLG 

1990 Boston  24   85  10  23  2  12 .271 .333 .412 
1991 Boston  20   55   1   6  0   3 .109 .197 .127 
1992 Boston  72  186  12  43  3  14 .231 .309 .323 
1993 Boston  39  127  14  42  1  17 .331 .380 .433 
1994 Boston  80  297  41  82  7  42 .276 .350 .414 
1995 Boston 126  433  61 133 10  57 .307 .416 .448 
1996 Boston 116  430  77 124 17  65 .288 .366 .444 
1997 Boston  70  259  38  74  9  40 .286 .379 .467 

M.L. TOTALS 547 1872 254 527 49 250 .282 .367 .420



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