Olde Towne Team To See Some Changes at Fenway When They Take Field Opening Day

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/04/05/olde-town-team-will-see-some-changes-at-fenway-when-they-take-the-field-on-opening-day/

Members of Red Sox Nation are eager to welcome the Boys-of-Summer back to Yawkey Way — aka~ our hometown Field of Dreams. Behind the storied gates of Fenway Park head groundskeeper Dave Mellor and his crew have readied the diamond for screaming base-hits, heart-stopping line-drives, and time-honored trash-talkin’.

Generations of Red Sox lovers have rejoiced in the ritual of armchair micro-managers hotly debating every aspect of the Club since the Park opened April 20th, 1912. This year will be no exception: “Is Alex Cora a good match for our expectations? When will Dustin Pedroia be ready to play?  And how much pressure can 34-year-old, six-foot-three, dread-lock-rockin’ slugger Hanley Ramirez handle?” Every great score calls for a great lyric. For baseball-lovin’ Bostonians everywhere pre-and-post game trash-talk is music to a fan’s scorecard dreaming.

Dave Mellor, head groundskeeper at Fenway Park, with dog Draggo. Photo by Diane Kilgore

Earlier this week Red Sox chairman Tom Werner with Red Sox president and chief operating officer Sam Kennedy lead Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans and a media-gaggle around the Park for a pre-season talk and walk-through. Fielding questions about the upcoming season, Werner gave the 2018 team a big thumbs-up, saying, “This team wants to win.” Admitting he’s always excited by the start of baseball season, he said he feels especially optimistic this year will be a great one for the Sox because the lineup balances excellent pitching with outstanding offense.

Announcing off-season improvements to the Park, Sam Kennedy said the present owners of the Sox are stewards of the field the eight-time World Series Champions proudly call home.  He said Sox management has a mindset like those sworn to uphold the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm.” Therefore changes to the Park are approached cautiously. 

Before the start of the 2018 season all 30 Major League Baseball parks extended netting to better protect vulnerable fans from flying balls and shattered bats. Tom Werner pointed out that Fenway’s newly installed protection was an engineering challenge and explained the “field-green” netting suspended by wires may take three or four innings to adjust to but won’t interfere with fans’ line-of-sight and hasn’t disrupted the integrity of baseball’s oldest cathedral.

Situated on the first base line is another significant change to the Park. The Jim Beam dugout is just beyond the Sox dugout. On a game-by-game basis the new area offers twenty-five fans a players-eye look at the diamond. Bats, helmets, and a daily line-up sheet add virtual reality to these fielder’s-choice seats. A tour of the ballpark and a pre-game meal in the Royal Rooters Club are two perks of these special swivel-seat tickets that also offer in-seat service for drinks and game-time snacks. (Seats in the Jim Beam dugout can be reserved by calling the Red Sox at 617-226-6912 or send an email messge to [email protected].)

A swivel chair in front of netting in the new fielder’s-eye seats at Fenway Park. Photo by Diane Kilgore.

The new on-field seats feel like a second dugout, which the scorecard and bats are meant to convey. Photo by Diane Kilgore.

Cognizant that the future of baseball lies in the heart of the next generation, legacy-building is an ongoing goal of Major League Baseball. The Red Sox are offering anyone with a student-ID game-day tickets for $9.  Availability is limited to unsold inventory, so there’s no telling where the seats will be, but as Kennedy pointed out young fans can experience the live-action thrill of a major league game for less than the price of a movie.

Sam Kennedy, president and chief operating officer of the Boston Red Sox, stands near a sign promoting new $9 tickets for students. (Some restrictions apply.) Photo by Diane Kilgore

Nostalgia plays a small part in this initiative. Born a New Yorker in the heart of Gotham,  67-year-old Tom Werner said he fell in love with the Red Sox as a student at Harvard. Fondly, he remembers taking in the game with pals, the look of the Park, and its legendary Green Monster. For him there’s still something magical about watching the Red Sox take home field in crisp white uniforms, and he expects to take-in at least 80 contests this year.

Werner said Fenway Park is recognized internationally as one of New England’s most popular tourist destinations. Because of that, Red Sox security is managed in collaboration with federal, state, and local officials.

Police Commissioner Evans said, “The protection of Fenway Park is constantly under review with evolving changes deployed both conspicuously and inconspicuous. Much like preparations for the Boston Marathon, Fenway’s security plan is fluid and always being tweaked.” The triad agreed the goal is to keep fans safe and keep Fenway a joyous place.

Bill Evans, Boston police commissioner. Photo by Diane Kilgore

Later today (Wednesday, April 5), after a long cold winter, the Boston Red Sox return to our hometown Field of Dreams on a hot streak with a record of 5 and 1, just one game behind the American League-leading Houston Astros. At 2:05 p.m., after the American flag has been unfurled and the National Anthem has been sung, the Sox will match up against the fourteenth-place Tampa Bay Rays and once again generations of armchair micro-managers at Fenway Park and around the world will fill score cards with stories of screaming base hits, heart-stopping line-drives, and time-honored trash talk about the life and times of Red Sox Nation.

Welcome home Boys of Summer, we’ve missed you.  Go Sox!