(The following is a season recap by Yawkey Way Report Hawker and Operation Manager, Jenny Reynolds)
Driving in towards Fenway Park early in the morning on Opening Day, it hit me like a sack of bricks. What on Earth was I doing? I was on my way to hawk magazines at my personal field of dreams, which also happens to be an undeniably magical place people cross the world to experience. How did I get here?
A chance meeting and a great conversation about a month before had led me here. There is no denying that our President/CEO Sly Edigio is one of those larger-than-life personalities, and there is no questioning his love for the Red Sox. From day one, I fully believed in him and what he was trying to do with this publication. And I was definitely coming along for the ride.
Opening day was amazing. I’d never been to one as a fan, and it was almost overwhelming. The sights, sounds, and smells outside the park filled me; the promise of a fresh start and the passion of the fans could be felt in the air. There were pictures taken, interviews given, and lots of happy customers. My body was exhausted, but I was in love with my new job.
When Fenway was closed during the hunt for the marathon bombers, my already weary spirit took another heavy blow. In just those few weeks, I had grown even more attached to the park, and although safety must come first, my anger flared once again. The attack had already been so personal; now it directly affected a place I called home.
The day the crowds came back to the park was one I’ll never forget. It was a beautiful spring day, and you could feel the spirit of our city and its people: strong, determined, and faithful. To be there and actively participating in the ordered chaos that is pregame at Fenway Park was an honor. To go back to normal was a huge step on the road to recovery. Our “Believe in Boston” flags did not disappoint, and seeing them later on TV, being waved throughout the park, made me proud. It was that day I knew we had something special at Yawkey Way Report.
As April rained itself into May, our crew combatted the downpours and rain delays by bonding with each other. We’d sit around telling stories while watching the rain fall at Gate B, and we started to become friends. To laugh and joke so much at most jobs would get you fired! Over the course of the season, we’ve had hawkers come and go, but the core crew of this company is a great mix of people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and personalities. In many cases, we don’t have much more than the Red Sox in common, but together we are family. It is a bond that can’t be broken.
It’s not easy to be a hawker. It requires personality, wit, a strong work ethic, and belief in your product and yourself. It definitely isn’t for everyone. You have to face rejection, other vendors, crazy fans, and you must always be prepared for anything. It can get overwhelming even to our best sellers, and as a result we continually added to our roster. Many people didn’t even make it through the tryout phase, but at the same time, we’ve seen quiet guys turn into power sellers.
As May turned into June and the weather and spirits around the park began to pick up, it was becoming clear that my lifetime of being quiet and shy did not translate into instant success as a seller. I had my good days, and a huge thank you to anyone who ever bought a program from me, but it became clear that my spot outside the park could easily be filled with a stronger seller. It was around this time I became our Park Operations Manager.
Overnight, my outlook changed. From day one as Manager, I’ve been proud to help us achieve the best success possible for the company as well as for each of our hawkers. I trusted in the experience of our veteran sellers, and worked as hard as I could to learn the ins and outs of the park as far as hawking goes. Matching personalities to different spots paid off, and we really started to take off as a company. You could see the attitudes and outlooks of our sellers change as the weeks passed by. Confidence grew, boys became men, and we continued to grow closer.
As the summer rolled on, things just kept getting better. The team and all the fans at the park brought an incredible energy with them every game, and that fueled us to do better. We went outside the box to come up with the best official giveaways and provide a positive experience for everyone that buys our program. We realize that what we do means nothing without all of you, and we set out every day to show that, with everyone giving their all.
As the playoffs became more and more of a certainty, our planning really started to pay off. We made it over every bump in the road with hard work and a little bit of good fortune. We called for all hands on deck, and everyone was ready and willing to help. The quick deadlines and last minute work of the postseason is exhausting, but there is no better feeling than walking around the park seeing our sellers in good spirits and fans happy with what we are offering. We’ve grown comfortable with our roles around the park and we are all honored to be a part of the experience. Even I have come full circle; I’ve found my Fenway voice. You may even catch me selling after games!
Today, we are leading in the ALCS and the future looks bright. No matter what happens from here on out, I can guarantee you that not only will Yawkey Way Report be back in full force next season, so will most of our hawkers. Game after game, through every clutch play, blown save, and extra inning, we’ve been there for you and for each other.
This season has given me a good idea of what it is like to play 162 games with the same group of people. My respect for professional ballplayers and anyone involved in the business of baseball has grown exponentially. The bonds that are made going through the rigors of such a demanding season are strong – and our ‘season’ was technically half as long. These are the people who have pulled me through life’s ups and downs over the past six months. Together, we’ve strengthened our shared love for this team and sport. I wouldn’t trade any of them, or anything we’ve shared, for the world. Thank you to everyone who has made this journey possible! We are proud to be part of Red Sox Nation. We are Boston Strong. We are Yawkey Way Report.