By: John Molori
October 10, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Mae Day
- Blitz Bits

Mae mixes sex appeal and savvy for success

The most promising name to join the Red Sox organization in the past year isn't Manny Delcarmen or Jonathan Papelbon. It's Hazel Mae of NESN (owned by the Red Sox). Mae's on-camera magnetism and chic personae as lead " SportsDesk" anchor and host of "Red Sox Rewind" has lit up the screen. Her outlook is just as fiery.

"I was warned about Boston from people I worked with in Toronto," says the 35 year-old Mae who came to NESN from Canada's Rogers Sportsnet in September of 2004. "They said people would be hard on me. Let's face it. I am a woman. I am not Irish Catholic and I am not from New England. That's three pretty big strikes."

Mae's baptism in Boston was not easy. She states, "I got absolutely hammered by the media. The guys on WEEI said derogatory things about me, that I wasn't pretty, stupid things like that. Outside of the Red Sox winning the World Series, I was miserable and I was homesick. Basically my family became people who worked with the Red Sox. I was happy that I only signed for two years with NESN because I didn't think I would make it here."

The turning point, Mae says, came in Spring Training 2005 when she began filing regular reports from Fort Myers, including a memorable and fun hitting feature with Bill Mueller. She gained the respect of colleagues and players alike for her work ethic and attitude.

Mae's move to Boston can be traced to a friendship with former Red Sox play-by-play man Sean McDonough. She explains, "In the summer of 2004, the Red Sox were in Toronto playing the Blue Jays. During a pitching change, there was shot of me on camera.

"Sean McDonough identified me as a colleague. (Red Sox director of communications) Glenn Geffner saw me and emailed (Sox VP of public affairs) Dr. Charles Steinberg because NESN was looking for new talent. As it turns out, Charles was looking at me on TV just as Glenn emailed. Charles then emailed Tom Werner in LA who told him to get a tape from me."

Despite the lure of a larger market, leaving Toronto was not easy for Mae, one of the most popular personalities in Canada. "I love sports and Boston is the place to be," says Mae. "I didn't want to be just a big fish in a small pond. In Toronto, I had a four-day work week and a national show, but I had to make the move."

Mae's parents emigrated from the Philippines to Canada in 1974. She is the oldest of five siblings and excelled in volleyball, basketball, tennis and softball. "I went to Catholic schools and was given an award for Christian Example," says Mae. "I almost died because I was hardly prim and proper. I got kicked out of cheerleading for spending too much time watching the game."

Mae attended the University of Toronto, but began her radio career at York University. "There were not a lot of Asian women in the business," she states. "In Canada, Asian women were supposed to do news or the weather. While I was working at The Fan 590 Radio, Rogers Sportsnet VP of production Scott Moore noticed me. I did a screen test and got the job."

Mae's sexy style has not gone unnoticed by viewers. There were several fan websites dedicated to her in Canada. In Boston, the low-cut black dress she wore at the Fenway Park premiere of the film "Fever Pitch" raised eyebrows and blood pressures throughout New England.

"I bought three dresses to choose from and actually preferred a little strapless number. I left it up to the women in the NESN office and they chose the one I wore. If the guys at NESN had liked it, I probably would not have worn it.

"If people tune to NESN because I am attractive, that's great, but a pretty face only lasts a couple of days. If one station has a hot guy doing the weather and another doesn't, I'll watch the hot guy, but if he tells me that there is going to be a blizzard in Tampa, I won't watch again."

The talented and gritty Mae openly discusses her sexuality on the air. "I am not trying to be a woman trying to be a man doing sports. I don't have to compromise my femininity to do this job. I like wearing my tight blazers and shirts. This bothers some women but they need to chill out."

A recent appearance on WEEI once again put Mae in the spotlight. She openly discussed her admiration for Mike Adams in a rather suggestive way. The boys at WEEI went into giggling shock, but Mae knew exactly what she was doing. "I played up to my audience completely in that interview," she reveals.

"I knew what they wanted to hear and I gave it to them. They were all pitching tents, but I knew that what I said would get poeple to watch NESN. People were like, "˜Who's this chick?' I embellished things a bit, but got a lot of exposure from that interview.

Despite her obvious beauty and sultry style, Mae still considers herself a sports fan first. She states, "I act like I'm 15 years-old. (Blue Jays player) Greg Zaun put it best when he said, "˜Hazel, you're really cool. You are kind of like a guy, but with all the neat playthings.'"

Given these very positive "playthings," what is the social calendar like for the sexiest sportscaster in Boston? Mae responds, "For the most part, it's been watching "Law and Order" marathons Fridays and Saturdays on TNT. I 've just begun to date recently. NESN has never put rules down to me about dating players, colleagues or anyone else. If they did, I wouldn't work there. If I was married, I wouldn't want my bosses telling me how many kids I could have."

Since her hard knock introduction to Boston, Mae has developed into a rising star. She is a solid interviewer and an engaging anchor. Her standup segment introductions on "Red Sox Rewind" are the best and most inventive in Boston.

During the Red Sox season, Mae takes in batting practice, and then anchors a live "Sports Desk" one hour after the postgame show. She then tapes another "SportsDesk" in the early morning. In addition, she is at NESN all day Sunday taping "Red Sox Rewind." Days off are precious. In fact, the interview for this column was done while Mae was simultaneously putting away groceries, planning her weekend work schedule and selling her house in Toronto.

"It's the type of schedule where if you don't like sports, you might as well slit your wrists," says Mae. "I love Boston because it's so passionate. I could never work in New York because I've always hated the Yankees. I get elderly people and families coming up to me. Women tell me that they and their husbands love me and that their day starts with me. I consider myself the sportscaster to the people."

Blitz Bits

Word is that the new owners of The Eagle-Tribune newspaper have let go Hall of Fame hockey scribe Russ Conway as Associate Editor. Conway has been with the paper for nearly four decades and authored the renowned "Cracking the Ice" series focusing on corrupt NHLPA director Alan Eagleson "¦ Former NESN and AM 1510 reporter Debbi Wrobleski is working in Orlando, FL covering the NBA, NASCAR, MLB and College Football. She is also doing work for "ESPN Hollywood" "¦ The "Celtic Pride" radio show will return to AM 1510 for the 2005-06 Celtics season. Also at AM 1510, Kudos to James Murphy and Brian Malone for a seamless transition from their entertaining "E-4" baseball show to "The Red Zone," an equally strong football entry, worth a listen on AM 1510 Boston and AM 1320 Providence, Sundays at 5:00 p.m. "¦ The Patriots host their 2nd annual "Men's Health Day" Tuesday at Gillette Stadium from 2:00-8:00 p.m. The free, open to the public event focuses on important health issues for men. Pats' players and cheerleaders will participate "¦ Check out Kevin Krueger's interesting SupahFans. com website for ideas and info on unique event and charitable endeavor ideas with a sports theme. The site also includes positive messages of sportsmanship and getting involved.

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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