FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox scout Gary Hughes has been in baseball for the last 49 years, but this spring was the first time he has ever been booed in church.
Hughes attends Resurrection Catholic Community in Aptos, a town in northern California where the parish priest, Father Ron Shirley, was keenly aware that Hughes worked for the Sox. It became a sore point for Father Ron when he heard that the Sox had targeted Pablo Sandoval, a beloved figure among fans of the San Francisco Giants.
“I think you need to go to confession,’’ Father Ron told Hughes on one occasion. “You’re trying to steal something.’’
That was before Sandoval signed with the Sox. Then on Ash Wednesday, Hughes was attending mass there when Father Ron, during the service, informed the congregation that Hughes was present and it was his fault that Sandoval had signed with the Sox. The priest was stretching the truth a bit -- the decision to pursue Sandoval occurred well above Hughes’s pay grade- -- but that distinction was lost on the parishioners.
“They booed me,’’ Hughes said Friday. “During the mass.’’
With one exception. “One little kid turned around and whispered to me,’’ Hughes said, “’I’m a Red Sox fan.’’’
Lest you get the wrong idea, Hughes loves Father Ron, who at one time served as the offensive coordinator for a high school football team.