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"The Birnie Fam Bid Fenway Adieu!"

I’ll be channeling my inner John Updike for this effort. As every native New England bred “ sahx” fan of a certain age can attest, it was Sir Updike who penned the quintessential farewell article to Boston Red Sox Legend (intentional cap “L” FYI!) Ted “Teddy Ballgame / Splendid Splinter/ The Kid” Williams which appeared in the October 22, 1960 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Click link below to read Updike's masterpiece!

Over the years, so many of you have permitted me to be a part of your personal lives – willingly and emotionally opening up to me with your dreams, fears and financially driven challenges. It is this confidential place in your lives I value greatly. Today I share a bit of the Birnie family chronicles with you.  

Earlier today we had to put down our first family dog “Fenway” (but of course) after 14 years of loyalty and love. In baseball terms, we had to take the future hall of fame starting pitcher out of the game!

As you all know my New England sense of practicality and humor well – the story of how we got Fenway is worth a quick revisit. From roughly age 5 on, my daughter Meaghan had hounded ( no pun intended) me to get her a “puppy” for Christmas! Not growing up with a dog and thus not truly understanding the amazingly unique role a dog plays in a family’s life, I persistently relented. The first Christmas, tying to play along - we got her a stuffed dog – not suitable! The following year – the headline 2003 XMAS list request was a “pony” …a PONY!…with “Dog, live one” getting second billing! When pressed about this – Meaghan offered “figured I’d go with the no way item first and you’d get me the dog”! A deal was immediately struck between us. Figuring I was safe…I arrived at this gem - Should the Red Sox win a World Series, we will get a dog. Well 10 months later October 2004 happened – the Sox historically overcame a 3-0 deficit against the “Evil Empire Yanks” in the playoffs en route to their first World Series title in 86 years and a rescue “North American Field Mutt” Fenway came wobbling into the Birnie house.

I will save anyone who has gotten this far in this narrative the heart felt sentiments and attempting to crystallize the raw emotional attachment a family develops with a long-time canine companion. Suffice it to say – every story you’ve heard resonates and applies to Fenway’s relationship with the Birnie Family. As we shared Fenway’s final moments today, scratching him endlessly as was his want while chatting him up as he drifted emotionlessly away, I was reminded of Updike’s words describing Williams reluctance to come out of the dugout for a final tip of the hat despite the urgings of both squads players, umpires and Fenway fans alike after hitting a towering home run to Right center in what would be his final career at bat - “Immortality is nontransferable…gods do not answer letters.”

In a script that only Updike could have written, following the multi week celebration that accompanied the fourth Red Sox World Series title in the past 15 seasons (and virtually 100 years to the day since 1918 - the year Yankees fans formerly needled Sox fans endlessly about) the Birnie Family Bids Fenway Adieu!

Oh – by the way – about the financial markets – to the surprise of virtually no one - we are experiencing a bit of a selloff in risk assets (stocks). Interest rates and the China Trade Talks are dominating investor emotions. Please note, nothing is broken – the economy is solid but anxious investors have taken some profits in their technology and other growth stock holdings. Keep in mind, historically the markets have weathered several Wars, countless “Bubbles”, Global Financial Melt Downs, Credit Crisis, Recessions, etc. and will continue to do so. Much like a championship team, the markets are resilient.  Over the years, we have been regularly reminded – Equity Risk is real – and as I say often – risk sends no memos in advance. The trick is to allocate the risk in a portfolio properly in the beginning of an investment cycle – when one’s emotions are quiet. At Piedmont, we stress this concept – Process and Patience.

From the Birnie Family to all – Happy Thanksgiving! We all have a tremendous bounty of emotionally fulfilling riches to be thankful for.