Hot Stove on a Cold Night
Friday, January 13, 2012 – McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket
PawSox Hot Stove League Party
On Friday night it was time for an annual tradition, the Pawtucket Red Sox’ Hot Stove League Party. The free event gives fans a chance to meet some of the top prospects in the organization, ask questions, and get autographs. In the past few years it’s been held on a Saturday morning, but this time it was on a Friday night, which I found a lot more inconvenient. My friends weren’t able to bring their kids because of all their after-school activities and sports, and I had to battle Friday evening traffic on Route 95, but I’m glad I was able to make it. With fewer people in attendance it was certainly easier to navigate than the crowded Saturdays of years past.
It was a cold, blustery night, but baseball season was in full swing at McCoy Stadium. (I joked that usually this event is held on the coldest morning of the year, but now they had somehow managed to find the coldest night of the year.) My first stop was the batting tunnel, where the batting cages and workout equipment were moved out of the way. Catcher Luis Exposito and pitchers Brandon Duckworth and Alex Wilson answered questions from fans in a session hosted by PawSox radio announcer Steve Hyder. One fan asked each player what position he’d like to play if he could pick a different one. Exposito said he’d like to be a pitcher, and Wilson said he’d be a centerfielder (”I’d have to be faster, but I could still throw people out.”) Duckworth laughed and said, “DH.” After the Q & A session, we were able to get autographs from all three players. I had them sign a photo I had taken at a PawSox game a couple of years ago.
When I was done in the batting tunnel, I went into the home clubhouse, where PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler and outfielder Alex Hassan were autographing. After going through that line, I stuck around for their Q & A session, in which we learned that Hassan’s favorite players growing up in Milton, MA, were Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Pedro Martinez. (This made me feel old, since they’re players I rooted for as an adult, but I felt a little better later when I realized that I’m only a couple of years older than the journeyman Duckworth.) Beyeler was asked about coaching third, a task performed by minor league managers. He said he definitely hears about it from fans when a runner is thrown out at the plate, but that he also hears about it when he holds a runner at third, and that either way he’s just happy that the fans care enough to holler.
When the Q & A finished up, I headed into the visitors’ clubhouse, where the private restroom in the manager’s office had been designated as a ladies’ room, and then grabbed some chips and soda. I stopped for a free hot dog out in the concourse, and then browsed through the many displays of photos and memorabilia that line the walls of the hallway on my way out.