Brian Butterfield was jogging from his third-base coaching box back to the Red Sox dugout when he heard someone calling his name.
“There’s this guy yelling at me,” Butterfield recalled from a game last season. Normally he would pay little attention – just another loud fan at Fenway. But Butterfield took a quick glance.
“It looked like Steve Belichick,” Butterfield said. Indeed, the son of Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, a New England assistant coach himself, was seated behind home plate.
“I went over,” Butterfield said. “He just wanted to say hi and how much he appreciated the (Red Sox) coaches … what a classy thing to do.”
Butterfield, 59, has made acquaintances with some of the Patriots’ coaches and players. He has attended games as well as private practices, soaking in the atmosphere.
“Coach (Bill) Belichick is roaming around,” Butterfield said. “I’m looking around, at how it’s being taught – it’s phenomenal how detailed they are. It was a great learning experience.”
But Butterfield was not just making a professional visit. He is a fan, a big one.
So while Butterfield is getting ready for spring training next week – “We’re going to be chasing something real important” – the preparation for workouts in Florida can be put on hold for one day.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday. The grill might be heating up at Butterfield’s home in Standish. Or maybe there will be an order from Pat’s Pizza, Butterfield’s addictive go-to food, going back to his days in Orono, where he grew up and eventually played baseball for the University of Maine.
Butterfield also played football at Orono High. He gave up playing but not the passion.
He will be cheering and analyzing on Sunday. Don’t bother asking for an objective prediction.
“I’m a homer prognosticator,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever picked against the Patriots.”
This year’s team?
“I like their toughness, the way they’ve gotten better,” Butterfield said. “There’s just a resiliency to them.
“We went down in midseason to Foxborough and saw them play Seattle. Jamie Collins (the linebacker traded to Cleveland) was not there, (new linebacker Kyle) Van Noy had not yet arrived. Just a lot of moving pieces. They struggled that night … but to see the transformation of the defense, and both the defense and offense get better.
“It seems like it happens all the time with that team. Credit the coaches and Bill Belichick. Even years they did not win the championship, they were one or two plays away. We are blessed in this region.”
Butterfield thinks the Patriots will win but isn’t overlooking the Atlanta Falcons.
“What really stood out is their team speed – they play a fast tempo,” he said. “A lot of weaponry. (Receiver) Julio Jones is extremely fast. They remind me of the Patriots with all the weapons.
“(Quarterback) Matt Ryan has really grown up. He has always been a favorite in our house – going back to the (Boston College) days. He’s tough like Tom Brady.”
Butterfield continued to rave about the coaching, the detail-oriented instruction that the Patriots offer. Not surprisingly, Butterfield is considered one of baseball’s best teachers. Good coaches attract each other (maybe that’s why Butterfield spotted Brad Stevens of the Celtics at a Patriots practice last summer).
The baseball coach will be a football fan today. Butterfield will reach into his closet – maybe for the Tom Brady hoodie or the Julian Edelman shirt (Butterfield and Edelman have become friends; Edelman took batting practice at Fenway last July).
Another clothing option is the hoodie with the cut sleeves, and the letters BB on the front.
“My initials,” Butterfield said with a laugh.
On Sunday, one BB will pace the sideline on the biggest stage. The other BB will be in his recliner. Spring training can wait.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: