Red Sox fans celebrated Truck Day on Tuesday, the unofficial start of spring training.
Workers began loading a JetBlue-sponsored big rig parked outside Fenway Park just after 7 a.m. despite below-freezing temperatures. Bins of medical supplies, training gear and luggage were brought from the warehouse, and boxes were piled high to ensure that no essential was left behind and that the Red Sox had what they need at their spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
By 10 a.m., fans had already gathered for the truck sendoff at noon. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino came out to greet the fans, and said the theme for the Red Sox this year is “new things ahead.” He said he was happy to see the turnout for Truck Day.
“This is one of the things that’s so special about Boston,” said Lucchino. “It’s a great reminder that the fans care so deeply.”
Also in attendance was Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. He said that he’s ready for spring training in Florida and feeling 100 percent for the start of the season after missing the second part of last season with a wrist injury.
It was Middlebrooks’s first Truck Day.
“I’ve always seen pictures from it, but this is the first time I’ve been part of it so it’s pretty cool,” he said.
Middlebrooks and Lucchino chatted with fans and even stopped to sign the posters of Kailey Gerard and Faith Dominguez, fourth generation members of the Arundel family, who all came to Truck Day to fulfill a bucket list wish of their 76-year-old great-grandfather, Dick.
“I always wanted to come up and see Truck Day,” said Dick Arundel. “This year, I made the talk about it about a month ago and it snowballed to four generations and they all said ‘we’re going to go.’”
Arundel said he has been a Red Sox fan his whole life. “It’s baseball, that’s what it is. Everything else is immaterial. All the other sports are there to keep you occupied between the end of the World Series and the beginning of spring training, that’s why they’re there.”
At noon, the truck was filled to capacity and ready to begin its trek to the Sunshine State. A flatbed pulled down Van Ness Street in front of the 18-wheeler, loaded with Fenway and Red Sox staff and of course, Wally the Green Monster, throwing gifts to the cheering crowd.
The 18-wheeler, with the slogan “Big Things Ahead,” will make a 1,480-mile journey to Fort Myers, Fla., to the Red Sox spring training facility.
Red Sox equipment manager Edward Jackson, or “Pookie,” as he is affectionately known, said he’s excited that baseball is just around the corner.
“It’s a whole new season,” said Jackson. “I’m pretty confident it’s a whole new start for us. We’re getting all of the Red Sox player equipment on the truck. Just feels like baseball season soon.”
Spring training officially begins for the Red Sox on Sunday, the reporting date for pitchers and catchers, although many players are already in Fort Myers holding informal workouts.
Follow Marie Torto on Twitter at @ChocoandWine.