BOSTON -- The symbolic changing of sport seasons could not have come at a better time for New Englanders, as an equipment truck loaded with Red Sox gear departed Fenway Park shortly around noon ET Monday, with a final destination of Fort Myers, Fla.The intersection of Yawkey Way and Van
BOSTON -- The symbolic changing of sport seasons could not have come at a better time for New Englanders, as an equipment truck loaded with Red Sox gear departed Fenway Park shortly around noon ET Monday, with a final destination of Fort Myers, Fla.
The intersection of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street was packed with Red Sox fans who washed away the taste of the Patriots taking a heartbreaking 41-33 loss to the Eagles on Sunday in the Super Bowl by gearing up for baseball.
"It's like the first robin, but even better," said Jo Anne Sweeney of Newburyport, Mass., who attended Truck Day for the second straight year. "I went for my very first time last year. It was one of those things I always wanted to do, looked at it on the news every year, and last year I was retired for the first year and I decided to go."
The Red Sox were grateful so many fans took them up on their invitation to watch the truck head out. Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy and chairman Tom Werner were among the team employees who took part in Monday's fesitivities.
"This is the official start to the baseball season -- the day after the Super Bowl," said Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy. "We salute the Patriots -- Tom, John Henry and everyone with the Red Sox [salutes them]. They had a great season and just fell a little short at the end. It was still a magical year, and we congratulate them."
With Spring Training opening in a week, the Red Sox hope to create a little magic of their own in 2018.
"We've had two 93-win seasons and two American League East championships the last two years, so we're really excited about taking that next step in October and looking forward to getting going," said Kennedy. "We had a chance to be with some of our players last week in Puerto Rico, and I can tell you they're anxious to get started."
Usually, the Hot Stove season has ended before the truck departs. But this offseason has gone at a slower pace throughout the industry, and the Red Sox still hope to add a bat before the season starts. Free agent J.D. Martinez remains a prime target.
"If we can add a bat, we certainly will, and that will play out over the next couple of weeks," said Kennedy.
"As Sam said, it's slow, but wait until Opening Day," said Werner.
Over the past 15 years or so, Truck Day has become an event for Red Sox fans.
"This is an exciting day," said Werner. "To have all these kids out here signing their names on the truck, it means the beginning of baseball season is close."
Fans are counting down the days. Monday made it seem closer.
"I've always wanted to come to this, and this is the first opportunity I've had," said Shelly Greenaway of Maynard, Mass. "I remember when I was a kid coming from home school and my mom would be on the couch watching Ted Williams and then [Tony Conigliaro] and [Carl Yastrzemski]. Tony C was big in our house."
"We've been out here the last four or five years," said Gail Norden of Dracut, Mass. "It's just nice to see it. My sister and I head down to Spring Training this Saturday and spend a week or two down there, and that really gets me in the mood for baseball."
For the 20th straight year, Milford, Mass., native Al Hartz had the honor of driving the 53-foot truck, which included 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 batting-practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of uniform pants, 400 T-shirts, 400 pairs of socks and 20 cases of bubble gum.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.