Truck Day 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012 – Fenway Park
I know there are some unsentimental types who think that the hype over a moving van is too over-the-top or some kind of commercial gimmick. It may be a silly tradition, but I happen to be a silly traditionalist, so Truck Day – when the Red Sox load up a van with all their equipment and send it off to Spring Training – is right up my alley. In past years, the equipment truck has departed on a weekday, so I wasn’t able to go. The closest I’ve come to Truck Day is one night a couple of years ago when I dragged a bunch of co-workers in to Boston for dinner the night before, just in case the truck showed up early and parked on the street overnight. (For the record, it doesn’t.) Back in 2004, I was in Ft. Myers when the truck arrived, and I was able to watch them unload it. But this year, the big day that symbolizes the start of the new baseball season fell on a Saturday, so I finally was able to go. And because of the inglorious and painful way last season ended, I am even more excited than usual to be able to wipe the proverbial slate clean and get the new season started.
I arrived before 10:00 and found a parking space right on Yawkey Way. Light snow was falling (disproving my theory that every time I go to Fenway it rains) but there wasn’t much going on at the time. I read later that because of the snow they had started earlier than usual, and some of the cooler items like an x-ray machine, turnstiles, and a motorcycle had already been loaded around 8 am. At 10 they began loading more boxes, including things like “bathroom supplies” and “kids pants” (cue the Pedroia jokes), and I watched from the sidewalk across the street with a couple dozen other fans.
Around 11:00 Larry Lucchino showed up and greeted the fans. When I saw that he was posing for pictures with people in front of the truck, I couldn’t resist asking for one myself.
I noticed that some people had gone up to stand near the barriers that were set up right behind the truck, and I joined them, not even realizing that I had just scored a prime spot. As a pizza oven was rolled onto the truck, Lucchino’s wife Stacey joined us with two of their dogs, black labs named Vernell and Nagal. She told us they had been training to become service dogs, but they “didn’t graduate”. Apparently they also have another dog, Fenway, who’s still in training and is the subject of the Fenway the Dog blog, and Stacey took a couple of pictures of the crowd to be used on the site. This is a side of the Red Sox CEO that we don’t often get to see, but it added to the fun, informal feel of the day.
A few minutes later Larry was back, this time to distribute pocket schedules and stickers to the crowd. He also had a container of chocolate chip cookies, which had been baked by a fan (”I wish I could say I was the CEO who baked cookies, but it wasn’t me,” Larry admitted). At one point a couple of cookies fell on the ground and people wanted to call the dogs back over until one of the photographers pointed out that with chocolate in them that wouldn’t be a good idea.
We got a little nervous when we saw them loading wheelchairs into the truck. Who are those for, and why do they need so many? (The obvious joke there is that Wake and Tek must both be returning.) We also saw them load large umbrellas that go over tables, a paper shredder, a box of belts, and a large clothing steamer. As we watched, the woman on my left was interviewed by Channel 7’s Dan Hausle, and the girl on my right was filmed for NECN. Both basically gave the same sound bites that many of us were thinking: today marks the first day of spring for Red Sox fans, even if it is snowing; we’ve always wanted to come but couldn’t make it on a weekday; it’s great to be able to start a new fresh season after the way the last one ended; and yes, it does help us get over last weekend’s Super Bowl loss.
The snow picked up again as the loading was finished and the truck doors were closed shortly after noon. I was surprised when I turned around and saw how the street had filled in, with easily 100 people there by the end. The Lucchinos and their dogs joined Wally and some Fenway ambassadors on a flatbed truck, and they tossed soft souvenir baseballs to the crowd while playing “Dirty Water”, “Play Ball”, and “Centerfield” on the loudspeakers. The truck drove down Van Ness Street, turned onto Kilmarnock and then on to Boylston, and headed off on its 1400-mile journey.
When I got home, I found myself in quite a few pictures of the Truck Day festivities. You can see me in the Globe’s Truck Day gallery, in a picture on the Red Sox’ Facebook page, in a post on SB Nation Boston, and in a video of an NECN broadcast. All that’s left to do now is warm back up and await news from Spring Training.