And on Saturday February 25, 2012 they came.
They came to Daniels Parkway in Ft. Myers Florida. They came to where a century of baseball tradition in Boston merged with today and the Florida sunshine. They came to say hello to Jet Blue Park at Fenway South.
When John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino bought the Boston Red Sox a decade ago, my brother and I often spoke of how we love the fact that these guys “get it”. They get what this team means to New England. They get what it meant to live through generations of angst born of not winning a World Series. They get how connected Red Sox fans stay to the players and teams of the past. They get what the Jimmy Fund means to the entire community. They simply get it!
Just how much they get it is now on full display in a Florida city 1500 miles south of Fenway Park!
Under their ownership, the concept of beautiful losers has been shred, and their new facility displays their focus and their goal each year!
Decorated on walls throughout the facility are the symbols which are emblematic of the World Series the Red Sox have won.
And they have recreated a mini Fenway Park.
Replete with The Green Monster and the Monster seats. There is however, a variation on this theme as the seats are protected by netting. The reason is that the ball is still in play. A ball has to be hit to the standing room location atop the “Monster” to be a homer.
The right field facade appears to offer a variation as well but I’m not so sure. The retired numbers pictured are in the order in which they were retired. At Fenway the numbers are listed numerically and have been so since Fisk’s 27 was retired. Is there a reason for this variation or is this a hint of what we will see at Fenway for her 100th birthday year? I love this and I hope Fenway follows suit.
Outside the park, the original Ted Williams Jimmy Fund Statue has found another home and looks quite comfortable among the Florida Palms.
Ted’s “Red Seat” is commemorated as well and I found this most compelling. It is 502 feet from home plate just as Ted’s “Red Seat” is at Fenway, only here, it’s about 20 feet from the parking lot.
Under the grandstand, the Red Sox most memorable moments are on display, just as they are in the first base State Street Pavillion at Fenway.
And over the facade behind home plate the banners declaring each American League Pennant and World Series championship boldly declare the quest for more.
For many, Fenway Park’s best year.
And what would a day at spring training be without a visit to the minor league fields.
Daniel Nava, remember him? A grand slam home run on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues!
One way you know you are at the minor league complex, the players still pick up the baseballs.
And so I shared with my big brother the very first day of the historic 2012 season for Fenway Park and the Red Sox. And there is serendipity in that for there is no one with whom I have shared more Fenway moments than he.
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history, February 27, 2012.