CARVER, Mass.—Francis Flynn never bothered opening the owner’s manual that came with his new iPhone. As the owner and primary caretaker of nearly 10 acres of cranberry bogs, Flynn says he doesn’t have the time to learn too many of the smart phone’s bells and whistles.
Just having access to the inner thoughts of his favorite NESN television personality, Heidi Watney, is plenty stimulation enough for Flynn, who let his beard grow scraggly thick during a particularly desolate, snowy winter that left his fields in a depressing, dire condition.
“I stumbled on Heidi’s Twitter account one day while I was trying to order a couple of replacement parts for my tractor—it took a pretty good beating during all the storms in January,” Flynn explains.
“I was on the phone with the supplier and all of a sudden I heard a strange ping noise and there was a message congratulating me on setting up an account. Turns out I had accidentally tapped some shortcut button while I was trying to talk and wipe fresh bog soil off my nose at the same time. I’m still waiting for that fuel hose for my engine…But obviously God planned for my tractor to stall out so that I’d find Heidi on Twitter.”
And so it began for Flynn (or @2y4hr?h0ijh$F, as he is known on Twitter).
Up to this point, NESN’s Number One Blond Bombshell—(“You better get off my goddamned bog if you think Kathryn Tappen is better,” Flynn says, unsolicited)—has primarily used her account to notify fans of daily lineups, to relay tidbits picked up in her interviews and to wish her many followers ‘Happy Birthday.’
But Flynn believes @HeidiWatney will evolve into so much more and he intends “to be there when she slips up and posts some kind of inappropriate photo of herself in front of her bathroom mirror or something.”
In the meantime, Flynn says knowing the Red Sox batting order in advance of the game broadcast—well before he’s even close to done for the day working in his bog—is a pretty nice perk.
“Heidi has the lineup posted a few hours before the first pitch,” Flynn says. “I’m out there in my tractor around quarter of four already asking myself if Francona’s doing the right thing hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia fourth. I love it.”
Flynn, who has experienced his fair share of Heidi obsession and fatigue over the years, is downright giddy at the prospect of being connected to her 24 hours a day throughout the upcoming regular season.
However, he has taken note of some significant drawbacks.
“Certain news, I’d rather hear straight from Heidi’s face on a television screen,” he says.
Flynn was devastated when he heard news of Daniel Nava’s demotion to the minors while trying to call the Plymouth County Animal Control office to report a dead coyote that was rotting in one of the far reaches of his bog.
“It was really tough to have to hear about Danny that way…on a damn phone. I knew it was coming, but I really thought Heidi and I would share that moment together on TV…not on some social networking site. It felt so impersonal.”
Asked if he planned to follow Red Sox stars such as Jacoby Ellsbury and Saltalamacchia, who also recently joined Twitter, Flynn didn’t have to think long for his reply.
“Ballplayers never say anything interesting…unless they’re talking to Heidi.”