Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow on Friday but today marks the first sign of spring for Red Sox Nation. That’s right: it’s Truck Day! It’s the start of the preparations for 2018. With pitchers and catchers set to report on Valentine’s Day and the first games of Spring Training - a double header against Northeastern and Boston College on February 22 - the players need their equipment.
According to MassLive the truck will be hauling quite a bit to Fenway South:
200 batting gloves
200 batting helmets
320 Batting Practice tops
160 white game jerseys
300 pairs of pants
400 pairs of socks
20 cases of bubble gum
60 cases of sunflower seeds
The journey is about 1,480 miles from Fenway Park in Boston to Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, but it’s not a direct trip from Fenway. As it has in the past, the Truck will stop in Pawtucket to let fans in Rhode Island give the truck a sendoff from McCoy Stadium.
You might wonder if Truck Day isn’t more a gesture of forced nostalgia than a goods-transportation operation. After all, the Red Sox have an entire complex in Florida designed to give the club a second home that can be operated year-round for baseball activities that may arise. But it’s history goes back a century: to Train Day.
In the early 1900s, when the Red Sox were still the Boston Americans “even earlier than when there were trucks and the day was celebrated by fans, cranks and Royal Rooters at South Station when the train left Boston for the trip south and spring training.” Michael T. McGreevy, the leader of the Royal Rooters “would flee the frigid temperatures of Boston and travel by rail with the players to spring training, where they were treated like celebrities.” Scenes like this one where players would be met by fans as they departed and arrived by rail at South Station were the norm.
These days, instead of McGreevy and the Rooters, Wally the Green Monster and his sister Tessie lead the ceremonies. Surrounded by fans and riding a flatbed truck through the city, the Truck Day sendoff sticks near its roots.
It’s also a rolling message board, taking the thoughts of fans down to Florida with the equipment.
Happy Truck Day!