BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox public address announcer Carl Beane, the voice of Fenway Park whose booming baritone called ballplayers to the plate for two World Series champions, died on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack while driving. He was 59.
"We are filled with sadness at this tragic news," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said in a statement issued by the team, which attributed the death to a heart attack. "His legion of friends with the Red Sox and the media will miss him enormously, and all of Red Sox Nation will remember his presence, his warmth, and his voice."
The Worcester district attorney said that Beane died in an accident after his car, an SUV with a spare tire cover stitched to look like a baseball, crossed the double yellow lines and left the road before hitting a tree and a wall. He was pronounced dead at Harrington Hospital in Southbridge a short time later, according to a release from D.A. Joseph D. Early Jr.
A longtime fixture in the Red Sox media who provided radio reports and gathered sound for broadcasters, including The Associated Press, Beane landed what he called his dream job when he won a competition for the job announcing the lineups at Fenway Park after the 2002 season. In his second season, he announced the home games of the World Series when the Red Sox won the championship to end an 86-year title drought.
"His voice was pretty unique," designated hitter David Ortiz said Wednesday before Boston's game in Kansas City. "I'm pretty sure everybody is going to remember that forever."
Added Ortiz: "It's something that's unexpected. It doesn't matter if you get to know the person or not; it always hits you. It's a tough situation where there's no tomorrow. One way or another, all of us get to be a family. You guys as a reporter, us as a player, him as an announcer -- everybody gets to be a family member here. And once things like that goes down, you hurt. You hurt. My prayers going out to his family."
With his voice familiar throughout New England to the millions of fans who filled Fenway each year, Beane also was hired to work as a master of ceremonies, narrate commercials and announce wedding parties. According to a 2008 interview with Boston Magazine, grooms would tell Beane they were more nervous to meet him and try on his World Series ring than they were when reciting their vows.
"When I get that instant response, a feeling washes over me like, 'This is where I should be,' " Beane told the magazine. "This is what I know I was put on Earth to do."
As a tribute to longtime announcer Sherm Feller, one of his predecessors, Beane used many of the same expressions, including his opening, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Fenway Park." But Beane also considered longtime Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard a friend and mentor, and the two would share a meal together whenever Beane traveled to New York for a game.
"No one loved his role with the Red Sox more than Carl did his," Lucchino said. "He adored the opportunity to pay homage each game to Sherm Feller, and to contribute to the culture of Fenway Park, a place he loved passionately."
The Red Sox were completing a road trip on Wednesday night in Kansas City against the Royals. The team said it would pay tribute to Beane at Fenway on Thursday night before their game against the Cleveland Indians.
"Sad news. Very sad news," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "He came down and introduced himself last week to me, and he just started with, 'Hi, Bobby.' He was on the side and I turned around and knew who he was. Then I put the name with the face."
Carleton Beane was born and raised in Agawam. He graduated from the Career Academy School of Broadcasting in 1972 and soon after got his first job broadcasting sports. He has provided updates and sound for news outlets, including the AP, ESPN and Sirius Satellite Radio. He also taught sports broadcasting and play-by-play classes at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.
"Carl was a great guy, and I've known him for probably 30 years," longtime Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione said Wednesday in Kansas City. "I came to Boston and he was covering the clubhouses for radio stations out in western Mass. We were all thrilled for him when he got the P.A. job, and I don't think anybody loved it more. He really relished that job. It was part of his persona. He was just so happy doing it. He's going to be missed. He had his own style, and he was part of the culture and part of the fabric of Fenway Park."
Beane's voice is the first one heard in "The Baseball Experience" at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Beane, who was diabetic, also served as a spokesman for the American Diabetes Association and a narrator for Talking Books at the Perkins School for the Blind.
He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; his daughter, Nicole; and his granddaughters, Maddie and Gena.
On behalf of Beane's family, the Red Sox said Wednesday evening that funeral arrangements have not been determined, but contributions in Beane's memory can be made to the Holland Congregational Church Building Fund (11 Sturbridge Road, Holland, MA 01521) and the American Diabetes Association.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.