Clark Rockefeller, Lenny DiNardo, Eddie Vedder, and the FBI: A True Story


The Clark Rockefeller saga has touched many lives. Local music writer Tom Kielty is no exception.

It was a drizzling Sunday afternoon and my girlfriend and I were celebrating our one-year anniversary. We were cracking a lobster at the Barking Crab and lamenting Manny Ramirez’s latest hi-jinks before we headed to Fenway for the last game of the Yankees series.

It was then that an “amber alert” came up on the television newscast. A father by the name of Clark Rockefeller had kidnapped his daughter on a supervised visit. Little did anyone know that by the end of the week Manny would be headed west and Mr. Rockefeller would begin leading investigators toward a seemingly bottomless Pandora’s Box of fraudulent identities and blurry memories. Little did I know that this summer storm planned on tossing some precipitation my way.
Manny’s departure came first, when he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was preparing to review Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder’s performance at the Opera House, while the whereabouts of Boston’s other most obvious malcontent were still unknown.

This led to a problem. There is no place to file a story at the Opera House. I’ve written about rock music for more than a decade, and I’ve filed stories on deadline in some pretty weird spots. Fortunately Downtown Crossing is full of possibilities, which is how I ended up at the Ritz-Carlton. On our way out the door I recognized a familiar face, one I’d known since I was a little kid, but hadn’t seen in close to 20 years.

He recognized me too and we did the predictable catch-up of unexpected life long acquaintances. After telling him I was a music critic he reached into his wallet and handed me his card.

“F.B.I, Special Agent. I’m here for the kidnapping case.”

I’d give you this guy’s name, because he’s a hero and I wish people could know that, but I found out real fast through a couple of phone calls that the bureau would prefer their agents remain “anonymous.”

My G-Man friend may have been hot on the trail of Rockefeller, but like everyone else who passed through Boston, he wanted to see the Sox. And like everyone else, even the FBI needs help securing a ticket. I turned to my girl friend and said, “Lenny D.”

Lenny D. is Lenny DiNardo, and he’s a pal. He’s a pitcher for the Oakland A’s who just happened to be visiting Fenway for the weekend. He’s also among the most knowledgeable music fans I know. I know this because he crashed on my couch in Somerville for a week in December 2004 in order to see the Pixies four times. This was after pitching for the curse-reversing Sox. Lenny D. could help.

The Ritz turned out to be a wonderful place to write, and a waitress even delivered a celebratory Heineken while I proofread. Then the phone rang. It was Lenny who wanted to know how the show went, he was particularly interested in Vedder’s cover of the Cat Stevens song, “Trouble,” because he’d been learning it on guitar. Suddenly the volume on his end became indecipherable and I had to ask where he was.

“Walking past that guy that plays Hendrix on guitar over the Mass Pike after games.”

Lenny basically talks nothing but music, and he keeps up with everything recently released. It seemed like a good time to ask about tickets. I explained the guy’s deal, that he was an old friend, who was now a fed working a kidnapping. DiNardo said he’d hook him up and I went outside to smoke a cigarette and leave a message at the Ritz: “Tickets waiting for you.”

Saturday, August 2nd was gray and rainy but Red Sox Nation shone in the glow of new acquisition Jason Bay’s performance the night before. My friend called, extremely grateful but skeptical that the game that day would be played. I advised him that in the event it did get rained out that he should still go to will call and get the tickets. “Give them to your brothers if it’s rescheduled,” I urged him.

Then came the news that Rockefeller had been busted in Baltimore. I texted my agent friend when the game started to make sure he’d successfully gained entrance to Fenway. My phone received two rapid-fire response texts, the gist of which was this:

“No thanks. Drinking w/ my wife, w/o my kids. Gave tickets to 2 agents from Quantico who helped solve kidnapping and recovered girl today. Good guys. Had never been to Fenway.”

The funny thing is that so many people ask why my F.B.I friend would ever turn down the tickets.

“It was my anniversary,” he said when I called to tell him that I wanted to tell this tale and also to inquire about F.B.I. protocol. “It was nice to have a little time alone.”

—TOM KIELTY