Fenway Spring Signals Upcoming Season

Like most people in Boston, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the warmer spring weather. For some it means breaking out the grill, while for others it means putting the top down on the convertible. But for me, the warmer spring weather means that I can enjoy my walk from my home to Fenway Park. I love Fenway spring weather.

Most Red Sox fans can tell you their own personal stories about what Fenway Park means to them. After all, for many of us it’s a home away from home. As I walked down Fenway SpringYawkey Way the other day I found myself getting excited about the upcoming season. It made me realize that it won’t be long before I can begin the ritual I always follow when I go to a game at Fenway Park.

If there’s a night game, I usually leave my place around 5pm and walk to the park, about a half hour walk. I always wear a Red Sox jersey (usually either Carlton Fisk’s, or Xander Bogaerts’) along with red socks, red Chuck Taylors, and some kind of Sox t-shirt and hat (A little dorky, I know). I always take my baseball glove too, especially after a line drive almost beaned me in the face last May (they come in much faster than you might think). When I reach the park I first visit Demitri, a loyal employee of The Sausage Guy stationed on Lansdowne Street. At $3 a dog you can’t go wrong. After chatting it up with him for a little bit, I make my way towards Yawkey Way where, before I know it, I’m surrounded by other fervent Red Sox fans, many of who are probably carrying out their own pre-game rituals. I make my way to the Yawkey Way Store where I browse new items before heading to the back to see what former ballplayer is signing autographs that day. Who doesn’t love meeting someone who once played for the Red Sox?

As game time nears, I make my way to my seat on the first base line, but not before getting a beer from Sharon, a vendor I’ve gotten to know over the last year. Teaching is both our day jobs so we often swipe stories about lesson plans and students before I thank her and make my way to my seat. As I settle into my seat, I always make a point to look around and think about the history of the park. Fenway Park is a cathedral, and I’m one of its parishioners. It’s sacred ground and should be treated as such.

As it gets warmer out, it won’t be long before I get to do my ritual again. I can almost smell the hot dogs!

Just Outside the Gates of Fenway Park

Just outside the gates of Fenway Park

Back row l to r Zach, Sly, Charlie, Aidrian, Eugene; front Jenny, Brendon

(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.

The Trials and Tribulations of a Starving Red Sox Fan

Red Sox Fan

I have written and read about many Red Sox fans over and over again.  They all seem to have their favorite players and their fondest memories.  They pass their love down from one generation to the next and they don’t seem to miss a game, no matter where they are. But what about those fans who can’t afford the luxurious life of season’s tickets and players’ shirts and paraphernalia of sorts?  How do they get their fix? I can explain.  Although this year has been my first year of taking on the role of a Red Sox fan it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve somehow miraculously seemed to manage.

It all began when I took on this role as a writer for the Yawkey Way Report.  I had no idea of what I was getting myself into (in a good way).  The role as a writer would mean I would have to follow the Red Sox to a  ‘T’— no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  I had obviously not thought it through.  But as a person who takes on many challenges in life and seems to overcome all obstacles, I knew where there was a will, there was a way.  Without a T.V or the Internet I began watching the games at my parent’s house and listening to them on the radio in my car.  I sat myself at the nearest coffee shops many a time and listened to MLB radio.  As time went on and the season continued(s) things changed, for the worst.  I no longer had my parents to rely on and my car, well that’s another story.  The internet remained non-existent, but there was still the Boston Globe and USA Today.  Also, the train wasn’t far from where I live so I took frequent trips to Fenway just to be in the midst of it all.  Upon interviewing many individuals, Red Sox fans and people who worked for the organization, I knew I too could remain in the heart and soul of it all.  I may not have the stats all the time and I may be the last to find out Will Middlebrooks is back, but the key is, I know.  That’s a true Red Sox fan.  Someone who cannot afford the games and rarely has the opportunity to listen to them via T.V, the Internet and the radio; someone who takes the time to stop a person on the street, on Yawkey Way or Landsdowne to catch up on the latest Red Sox news; someone who randomly meets retired players at a local cafe (Dwight Evans) and has the courage to go up to them and ask if she can interview him because she knows it’s an opportunity far from the norm, is considered, in my mind, a Red Sox fan.

If there is anyone alike that may have doubts on how to follow the Red Sox without the glorious advantages of being able to do so much, well, the first thing you can do, is realize you are a Red Sox fan and nothing, not anything, can stop you from being in touch and being a part of the most dedicated organization in baseball.

This post was inspired by my venture to Yawkey Way this beautiful afternoon.  I took the train in for just over $14.00 and sat myself down in the heart of Fenway.  I watched as the fans walked by in their gear (even though the Sox are away,) and the tourists as they shot photos of their families and friends at every sign that suggested Red Sox.

Boston, One Strong City

boston

 

What a week, Boston! What a week. In the last 5 days, our city has gone from celebrating Patriot’s Day with the  traditional running of the Boston Marathon and a Red Sox day game, to a city horrified, terrorized and under siege, to a city who has shown the bad guys that we are not a city to be messed with.Boston is one strong city.

In an effort to respect the carnage and unimaginable events that have plagued our beloved city for the past week, we at Yawkey Way Report have been on a brief hiatus. As managing editor, I felt it was in poor taste to discuss JBJ being sent down to Pawtucket or Red Sox pitching or anything else that would draw our attention away from the real life tragedy we, as a city, were faced with. While it’s true that sometimes we just need a distraction from the horrors of real life, and that sports provides that distraction for many, it’s unfair to pull our writers’ away from their loved ones during a time of tragedy just to focus on a baseball player.

The city was hit, knocked down even, but we were not knocked out. We got up, dusted ourselves off, and won.

Yawkey Way Report would like to thank the many courageous men and women in uniform for a job well done. We would also like to extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

The Sox are back home today for the Fenway’s 101st birthday, the sun may or may not make an appearance here in Boston, and Yawkey Way Report staff are back to work.

Boston is one strong city.