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Truck Day 2014

Saturday, February 8, 2013 – Fenway Park

With the “boys of summer” stretching the baseball season late into October last year, this has actually been a shorter off-season than most.  But with last year as exciting as it was, and winter colder than usual, the new season can’t start soon enough for me.  So of course I had to go in and watch the truck get loaded up with equipment and head south, signaling the official unofficial start of the new baseball season.  In the past couple of years, the truck has started on its way at noon, giving us a chance to watch workers pack it up beforehand, but this year they were packing at 7 am and leaving at 10:00.  That’s a little too early for this non-morning-person with over an hour’s commute to Boston – not to mention that it was only 11° when I left my house – so arriving at 8:30 was the best I could do.

Workers load up the truck on this cold Boston morning.

Workers load up the truck on a cold Boston morning.

There were probably only about a dozen fans there when I arrived, and the street was still open to traffic.  The truck was already half-full, and we watched as they wheeled in boxes of baseballs, trunks of video equipment, and suitcases (one with an ever-helpful tag reading “TAKE TO BALLPARK”).  There weren’t too many unusual items loaded while I was there, but it was strange to see a duffel bag with the White Sox “Sox” logo on it (I read when I got home that it belonged to Jake Peavy, who was traded from Chicago at the end of last year) and one labeled “Dirt 7″.  That’s Stephen Drew’s nickname, but he’s a free agent; maybe it’s an old box and there’s something else written on the other side.

Truck driver Al Hartz is ready for the 1400-mile trip to Florida.

Truck driver Al Hartz is ready for the 1400-mile trip to Florida.

After 9:00, the street started to fill in with fans, and the media descended.  The truck driver, Al Hartz, who’s made the journey for the past 16 years, even signed some autographs.  Soon the Boston University pep band showed up, playing classic tunes as well as “Shippin’ Up to Boston” and “Dirty Water”.  Dr. Charles Steinberg arrived, wearing a spring training necktie and his ‘04 and ‘07 World Series rings.  Dick Flavin, the Boston TV personality who’s now a P.A. announcer at Fenway and the unofficial poet laureate of the Red Sox, was with him, and Steinberg had the band hold up for a few minutes while Flavin read a poem he had written for the occasion:

There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Spring Training is not far away.
The truck is all loaded and ready.
Ft. Myers, it’s heading your way.

Soon it will be in the sunshine,
While we’re up here freezing, y’know.
Perhaps you can do us a favor,
And load up the darn thing with snow.

This winter has dragged on forever.
Enough with this frozen Fenway!
Get trucking on down to Spring Training.
We’re ready for baseball I’d say.

Bon voyage, adios, see you later,
Make tracks, move her out, on your way!
When you come back bring some good weather,
And be here by Opening Day.

From where I was standing, I was able to get a video of Flavin reciting his poem:

Shortly before 10:30, the truck’s doors were officially closed, and it rolled away on its journey, led by a police escort and a flatbed truck with Fenway ambassadors.  I went around the corner to Boylston St. to watch them drive by, and then when they were safely headed on their way, I came back around to Yawkey Way.

The Red Sox equipment truck is on the road to greatness (and the road to Ft. Myers).

The Red Sox equipment truck is on the road to greatness (and the road to Ft. Myers).

My last stop was the Fenway Park ticket office, where all three Red Sox World Series trophies – 2004, 2007, and the current 2013 one – were on display.  Because I had waited on the corner of Boylston St. for a few minutes instead of going right in, I was at the back of the line and waited outside another half-hour.  At least the line moved quickly, and it was a relief to finally get inside.

The 2004, 2013, and 2007 World Series trophies were on display in the ticket office.

The 2004, 2013, and 2007 World Series trophies were on display in the ticket office.

Once worried that I'd go my whole life without ever seeing a World Series victory, I've now seen three!

Once worried that I'd go my whole life without ever seeing a World Series victory, I've now seen three!

After getting my chance to pay homage to the trophies, I headed home to warm up.  It’s hard to fathom on a frigid morning like this, but with the Red Sox’ equipment on its way south, and a bunch of players already checking in early, spring can’t be far behind.

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