Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

On Truck Day, Sox fans were bracing for inevitable

@IanMBrowne
February 4, 2020

BOSTON -- Inside the offices of Fenway Park, Red Sox executives spent Monday getting to the finish line on a reported trade sending superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. But outside the old ballpark, there was something much more festive going on. It was Truck Day, the annual rite

BOSTON -- Inside the offices of Fenway Park, Red Sox executives spent Monday getting to the finish line on a reported trade sending superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Dodgers.

But outside the old ballpark, there was something much more festive going on.

It was Truck Day, the annual rite of passage for Red Sox fans and New Englanders as a whole that winter is in its final stages and baseball will be here in the near future.

Though the trade for Betts had not been consummated as of early Monday afternoon, and the Red Sox still hadn’t hired a manager to replace Alex Cora, Truck Day was a reminder that those pressing matters will be resolved soon enough.

Van Ness Street was packed with Red Sox fans who came by simply to watch the moving truck filled with baseball equipment depart Fenway Park and head to Fort Myers, Fla.

The first workout for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 12 at Fenway South.

“Spring is right here, and here we go,” said Mike Piazza, a 68-year-old Red Sox fan from Everett, Mass. “First sign of spring.”

Yes, the fan’s name is Mike Piazza. No relation, however, to the baseball Hall of Famer.

“And when I was working, I used to work with a guy named Mark McGwire," Piazza said. "How weird is that?”

So what brings Piazza -- not to mention men and women of all ages -- out to Fenway to watch a truck get packed up?

“The fans, the crowd -- it’s the first sign of getting the season going," said David Goulart, a 60-year-old fan from Buzzards Bay. "Now that football is over and we’re done with it, it’s time to look to baseball."

While at the beginning of the offseason there was fear and outrage among fans that Betts might get traded, everyone eventually talked about it with an air of inevitability.

Betts, who will earn $27 million this season, will be a free agent in November. The sides never got close to a deal in past negotiations, and Betts has been steadfast over the past year in saying that he will go to free agency rather than sign an extension.

“It’s too bad. Everybody moves on. Nobody stays in one place forever,” Goulart said. “I’ll be sorry to see him go, but if he’s going to go, he’s going to go. It’s best to get rid of him now while he’s worth something. If you wait halfway through the season, he could get hurt and then you won’t get anything.”

While it will be sad for fans, they hoped for the best at this point.

“Hopefully they get something for him. Maybe they’re building. New manager, bunch of new people," said Joanne Lawler, a first-timer at Truck Day from Plaistow, N.H. “They’re going to play no matter what, whether Mookie is with us or not.”

Manager rumors: Sox to interview D-backs bench coach

While Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy couldn’t make it to Truck Day this year due to meetings in Florida, his parents, Mike and Joanna, made the one-mile pilgrimage to Fenway from their Brookline home.

“We’ve been coming down to Truck Day for at least eight or 10 years now,” said Mike Kennedy. “It’s the threshold when you say, 'The back of winter is broken because now we know in less than a couple of weeks, pitchers and catchers report.' And then we are just counting down to Opening Day. It’s an exciting day.”

“I love to come to Truck Day,” said Joanna Kennedy. “It’s kind of a kickoff of the season. We’ve been waiting all winter, and I know it’s still a few weeks to Opening Day, but I just love seeing people gather. These are true fans, the ones who come and stand out here in the cold for two and a half to three hours.”

At noon, Al Hartz, who was entrusted with driving the equipment southward for the 24th consecutive season, turned the key and hit the road as fans roared with approval.

He was carrying the following: 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 pairs of batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 batting practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of pants, 400 T-shirts, 400 pairs of socks, 20 cases of bubble gum and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.

Hartz will arrive in Fort Myers later this week.

Though Betts will not make it to Boston’s Spring Training this year, the season will go on, and Red Sox Nation is ready for it.

“It doesn’t matter where they place,” said Goulart. “Win the World Series or finish dead last, we’ll still be fans.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.