This past weekend, a couple of Red Sox prospects, the 2004 and 2007 World Series trophies, Wally the Green Monster, and some of the fabulous Red Sox staff made their way down to Fort Myers, FL for the Red Sox Road Trip. On Saturday, the trophies made a stop at the Edison Mall and the Gulf Coast Town Center. My Saturday was filled with an exciting all-day trip to the library to work on my research paper. I sure had plans for Sunday though.
My parents are very smart. They know not to leave me with a credit card too long; especially when there is anything to do with baseball. It’s not that I couldn’t handle myself alone, it’s just that I would probably buy every Spring Training ticket available with the intention of going to every single game. Since my dad was working on Sunday, my mom was kind enough to accompany me.
Some of you may remember that my mother does not like baseball all that much. Every time I take her to a game, there seem to be unpleasant conditions. I remember we took her to a Marlins game once, and we were sitting down the third base line in the sweltering heat. Last year during Spring Training, we went to a Red Sox vs Marlins game, and there was a two hour and 39 minute rain delay. She’s a real trooper, and I greatly appreciate that.
Fort Myers is two and a half hours away from where I live, and the event started at 11. We loaded up my car, which I like to call the Red Sox Mobile (or Megatron), and we were on the road a little after eight. I was ready to go with my business cards, a baseball, a Sharpie, and my camera.
We arrived around 10:45 after the agonizingly boring drive through Alligator Alley. The gates opened just a bit after 11, and I was back at home. I could smell baseball season again. There was no smell of hotdogs, nor the normal clamor of a baseball game, but it was perfect nonetheless.
I didn’t know where to go first, but I was certainly eager to meet the prospects; that was my main reason for going. I went up to the field, and saw a line starting to form to take pictures with the trophies on the field. It was my first time on the field at City of Palms Park, and my first time walking around on an actual baseball field for a while. I was wearing sandals so I felt the sand in my feet, and the perfectly groomed grass on my toes. There’s really nothing like it. I felt so connected with the field, and all the players who had been on it before.
There were no bases, and the pitcher’s mound was covered in tarp. The trophies were stationed right at second base. I had never seen the trophies in person before, so it was pretty incredible so see the symbols of the Red Sox’s triumphs right up close. Each trophy represents so much, but it’s hard to really take it all in when you just have a few seconds.
Luckily, I found a way around that. You see, each player would sign for about an hour so I had a lot of down time between each autograph. So I went back to the field to get another look at the trophies. There was no more line, only the Fenway Ambassadors, whom I like to call the guardians of the trophy. I started talking to them, and both were really nice. After having talked to them for a little while, I mentioned that it was a bit tragic that people had take their picture so quickly. Nobody really got to take in what the trophies truly meant. So I was told to put all of my stuff down, and one of the guardians picked up the 2007 trophy and carefully transferred it to my arms.
I do not know how I contained myself. I was holding a World Series trophy! An emblem of blood, sweat and tears. I felt more connected with the Red Sox than I ever had before, and it will be a moment that I will never forget.
That was after I had met some fabulous prospects though. The one you all are probably most familiar with, if at all, is Ryan Westmoreland. He is the 27th ranked prospect in all of the Major Leagues, and arguably the top prospect in the organization. He is a native Rhode Islander, and was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008. I have no doubt that he will make it to the Majors someday. I also met pitching prospect Felix Doubront, outfield prospect Zach Daeges (you may remember him from some of my Spring Training entries from last season), and a few other prospects that I was admittedly not familiar with.
The prospect I spent the most time talking to was Zach Daeges. He was kind enough to let me informally interview him. It means the world to me to interview prospects, so I was very excited. For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, he is an outfield prospect for the Red Sox and can play left or right field. I love that kind of versatility! He spent the majority of the season in Pawtucket, and he’s from Omaha, Nebraska. He admitted that his favorite player was Barry Bonds growing up, and that he tried to emulate his swing. Zach said he was disappointed when he heard the steroids rumors surrounding Bonds, and he thinks that the whole steroids issue makes it unfair for the players who did it on natural talent.
If he could play catch with any Major League player of all time, he chose Jackie Robinson. He went further to say that if he could merely talk to any player, it would be Jackie Robinson for everything that he overcame. He really liked the Cubs growing up, especially guys like Ryan Sandberg and Andre Dawson. He said that his favorite ballpark is Fenway Park because it is so historical, and I sincerely hope that he gets to play there. I think he is certainly capable. I love the versatility he has of playing either left or right field, and he also has a really cool batting stance. Keep your eye out for him during Spring Training.
Here are the other prospects I met:
The coordinator of public affairs, Marty Ray, was also at the event. I had met Mr. Ray on my tour at Fenway Park, so I went over to say hello. He remembered me after I had jogged his memory of the situation, and it was really great speaking with him, he’s such a nice guy.
I also met Adam Mendelson, who co-hosts ‘The Red Zone’ on FOX Sports Radio. He’s a great guy, and he offered to help me find an internship for the summer. Brett Bodine, the Coordinator of Florida Operations (for the Red Sox) was kind enough to speak to me as well and give me some information about internships.
Overall, it was an absolutely fabulous day–one that I will never forget. I think that meeting the prospects is such an important aspect of the game; they are the future! They know so much about baseball, and you feel that much more proud when you see them at the major league level. The Future Blog of the Red Sox covering the future prospects of the Red Sox certainly seems appropriate.