Guess what day it is.
Yes, Red Sox Truck Day Presented by JetBlue is finally upon us.
For those unfamiliar, Truck Day is an annual event where Red Sox fans stand in the cold and the snow outside Fenway Park to watch as 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 320 batting practice tops, 200 batting helmets, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of pants, 400 t-shirts, 400 pairs of socks, 20 cases of bubble gum, and 60 cases of sunflower seeds are loaded into the team’s equipment truck headed for the Spring Training complex in Fort Meyers. As the truck prepares to depart, Wally the Green Monster leads the way on a flat-bed truck and tosses soft baseballs to fans. The crowd then waves and cheers as the truck drives away. And that’s it.
This day is kind of dumb. There are fans willing to stand behind barricades for hours and watch other people do physical labor (and witness exciting scenes like this) before clapping at a truck driving down the street. There is even a Truck Day Twitter account in case you need updates about it. But the celebration exists because of what the truck represents. The sight of the truck “signals the unofficial start of Spring Training,” meaning baseball season and better weather are just around the corner. After the winter Boston is experiencing this year, it is an important day for fans who want to hang on to the hope that winter will end at some point.
It is also an important day for Al Hartz. A native of Milford, MA, Hartz drives the truck from Boston all the way down to JetBlue Park every February. Speaking to the Boston Globe, Hartz explained the trip takes approximately two days and is one he makes alone. “On occasion when I’m driving, people will recognize the truck and pull out their cellphones and take pictures,” he says. “But not when I go through the Bronx — I get some thumbs down.”
Many celebrations and ceremonies orchestrated by the Red Sox are silly, but they exist because they keep fans interested and excited — and interested, excited fans will buy merchandise and JetBlue plane tickets to Florida. But Truck Day, a tradition since 2003, is meaningful to some fans because it symbolizes a fresh start for the team and the promise of winning. Winning on its own also keeps fans interested and excited, by the way.
The tagline emblazoned on the side of the truck this year, “Ready to Roll. Right off the Bat,” is also pretty dumb. But last year’s “On the Road to Greatness” looked even stupider after the Red Sox ended up imploding.
So whether you care or not, the truck leaves at noon and will make the 1,480 mile trip to Florida before pitchers and catcher report on February 20.
And the fans out at Fenway today who can’t make it to Spring Training can at least say they saw firsthand the bags that hold the equipment that will be used there. Truly a memory that lasts a lifetime.