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Early Wake-Up

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 – Fenway Park, Section 37

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2

Following a lost weekend in which they dropped two of three to the Yankees, the Red Sox got off to a good start against the Blue Jays with wins in the first two games of the series.  The final game was an afternoon game, but it was in the 4-game package I had bought in order to go to Opening Day, so I took the day off from work and went in early.  I doubted they’d be taking batting practice, since it was a day game after a night game and they had the next day off.  And when it started to drizzle as I arrived at the park, that clinched it.  The grounds crew was just rolling up the tarp as they let us in, but a little while later the pitchers came out to right field to throw, and I went over to take some pictures.

Daniel Bard gets his pre-game work in.

Daniel Bard gets his pre-game work in.

When the pitchers finished up and went in, I walked out to Yawkey Way.  This year “Autograph Alley,” where a former player signs autographs before the game, was moved inside Twins souvenir store.  I’ve stopped by Autograph Alley many times over the years, and by now it’s often the same people I’ve already seen.  But this time, the name caught my eye.  It was Lou Lucier, who pitched in a handful of games for the Sox in 1943 and ’44.  I was probably the only person there who had even heard of him before, but I knew his name, years with the Sox, and uniform number, thanks to my list of Red Sox All-Time Uniform Numbers.  The list was originally given to me 10 years ago by a reader who had been keeping track himself ever since the Globe published a list in the late 1980’s, and I’ve been keeping it up-to-date for the last decade.  Up until J.T. Snow wore #84 in 2005, the two highest uniform numbers worn by Red Sox players were Lou Lucier’s #81 and Johnny Lazor’s #82 in 1943.  Both wore other numbers later that year, but I always wondered why they had numbers so high.  In the 1940’s no one had ever worn anything higher than 42, and it would still be a couple of decades before anyone else topped 50.  I’ve always figured there had to be a story behind it (was it just for one day? was it some kind of stunt? was there some special meaning to #81 and 82?) and I’ve wondered about it ever since I first saw the list.  So I was excited for the chance to finally find out, and I hopped in the line.

Former Red Sox pitcher Lou Lucier signs autographs in the souvenir store before the game.

Former Red Sox pitcher Lou Lucier signs autographs in the souvenir store before the game.

While in line, we were told that Lucier is now 92 years old and is a native of Grafton, MA.  When I got to the front, I asked him about wearing #81.  He said it was just because they were rookies and after they had been there a while they were given lower numbers (he took #15 and Lazor got #14).  I felt silly at that point, because I had just assumed there was more to it than that.  I thanked him and said that it was one of the highest numbers ever for the Red Sox and I had remembered seeing it on a list.  But it was cool to get an answer to something I had wondered about for so long.

After grabbing some lunch, I walked around to my seat in the bleachers, stopping to take some pictures of the Big Concourse along the way.

View from the spiral starcase that leads from the right field granstand to the Big Concourse.

View from the spiral staircase that leads from the right field grandstand to the Big Concourse.

The game itself, with Tim Wakefield squaring off against Sean Marcum, started off as a fast-paced, well-pitched game.  After the first 3 innings, each team only had one hit.  In the 4th, Wake struck out Vernon Wells to end the inning and pick up his third K of the day.  When we saw on the scoreboard that it was the 2000th strikeout of his career, we gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the field, and he came back out of the dugout for a curtain call.  It was just too bad he had no run support to show for his outing.

Tim Wakefield pitches to Randy Ruiz, one batter before picking up career strikeout #2000.

Tim Wakefield pitches to Randy Ruiz, one batter before picking up career strikeout #2000.

The Blue Jays put together two doubles in the 5th for the first run of the game, and Travis Snider’s homer in the 7th made it 3-0.  It wasn’t until the bottom of the 9th that the Red Sox hitters finally showed some signs of life.  Kevin Youkilis singled with one out, and J.D. Drew doubled him home.  David Ortiz worked a 3-2 count and then was called out on a questionable strike three.  He argued for a minute, with Terry Francona coming out of the dugout to protect him, but to me the fact that neither of them were tossed from the game meant that umpire Dale Scott knew he had blown the call.  Adrian Beltre also got a bad call in the very next at-bat, bringing Tito back out of the dugout, and this time he was immediately ejected (and of course cheered as he walked back to the dugout).  Beltre ended up driving in Drew to bring the Sox within a run.  That brought up Darnell McDonald, who had been a walk-off hero earlier in the year when I was sitting in the exact same seat.  But this time he popped up to second base to end the game in much less dramatic fashion.

Since it was an afternoon game that finished early, my friends and I decided to head over to Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill for dinner.  The new restaurant is on Boylston Street, right across a parking lot from Gate B of Fenway Park.  Our wait for a table was only 15 or 20 minutes, and there were lots of large TVs showing every sports-related channel.  (That’s where we saw on the NESN post-game show how terrible the call in Papi’s at-bat really was.)  I really enjoyed the huge burger I ordered, and I’m sure we’ll be back at some point this summer.

May 12, 2010 • Posted in: 2010 Games • Share on Facebook

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