BY TOM DALTON
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Henry Mahegan was sitting in a barbershop in Boston last May when he got a phone call from the Red Sox with the tragic news that public address announcer Carl Beane had died.
Mahegan, a 31-year-old Marblehead native who had worked in media relations for the Sox before becoming a teacher, was asked if he would be available to fill in for Beane, who had been the voice of Fenway Park for a decade.
For the first game following Beane’s death, the public address system was silent, a tribute to a beloved PA announcer who had never missed a game.
For the second game, Mahegan, a history teacher at Charlestown High School, slipped into Beane’s seat, leaned into the PA microphone and heard his voice drift out into the night sky.
“I was terrified,” he said.
One year later, Mahegan finds himself somewhere he never expected to be. He is one of three people selected to be PA announcers for the Red Sox this season, chosen from a field of 342 candidates.
Mahegan, who will do most of the night games, will share the duties with two Boston media celebrities, former TV sportscaster Bob Lobel and former TV personality Dick Flavin.
Mahegan’s first game is tonight.
“I’m excited,” he said yesterday. “Maybe I should be more nervous, but I feel that after doing nine games last year and a spring training game this spring, I’m not that nervous. I’m more just really excited to do it. It’s such a cool thing to be part of.”
This is, to put it mildly, a dream job for a young man who grew up in Marblehead, a huge Red Sox fan.
“I had Red Sox wallpaper,” he said. “Not the whole wall, just like a little ring around the room.”
Mahegan played baseball at Marblehead High, but that was not his path to Fenway Park.
“I wasn’t very good,” he said. “I was like ‘some field, no hit.’”
Since he was a boy, Mahegan dreamed of working for the Red Sox and, once he got older, flooded the team with emails, résumés, texts and phone calls.
After graduating from Trinity College, he landed his first job, but it wasn’t at Fenway Park.
“I was moving furniture ...” he said. “Just out of (sheer) luck, we were delivering to (Red Sox President) Larry Lucchino and (owner) John Henry, some kind of a coffee table. I literally put my résumé in the drawer of the coffee table.”
He doesn’t know if anyone ever saw his letter, but persistence finally paid off. Not much later, he was invited to be a Red Sox intern. The year was 2004.
“I couldn’t have picked a better year to start,” he said of the year the Red Sox won the World Series and broke an 86-year-old curse.
He joined media relations in 2007 and worked there for three years, leaving in 2010 to become a teacher.
One of his jobs in media relations was making announcements over the press box intercom. In retrospect, it proved to be a minor league stint before being called up to the majors.
While working in media relations, Mahegan was asked if he would be willing to fill in for Beane should the iron-man announcer ever miss a game. He accepted, knowing that was an unlikely possibility.
“It was like being backup first baseman for Lou Gehrig,” he said of the Yankee legend who held the consecutive games record before it was broken by Cal Ripken.
When the call finally came to fill in under such tragic circumstances, Mahegan was overwhelmed, saddened, petrified and just hopeful he could help. He had been away from the Red Sox for two years, but he also understood, in a way, why they called.
“I think they sort of asked me because I knew those people (in the control room) and it wouldn’t be like a stranger sitting in his seat,” he said.
This year, after it was announced he would be one of the permanent replacements, Mahegan was flooded with congratulatory calls, texts and messages on Facebook.
“People were like coming out of the woodwork,” he said. “... I was really blown away.”
He has also heard from some of his students at Charlestown High, where he’s still teaching. Of course, they already knew all about Mr. Mahegan’s cool job. He made sure of it.
“Last year, anytime I was doing a game, I would say, ‘OK, and the homework tonight is everyone has to watch the game on NESN.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.