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At Fenway, Sox fans get their 15 seconds of fame

Cheryl DiRocco, 38, of Waltham, sashayed into the audition room adorned in Red Sox ticket stubs affixed to her sweatshirt with safety pins. Bill Callahan, 40, of Medway, showed off a video clip of his family cheering in the Fenway bleachers as a home run landed in their midst. John Thomas Miller, 26, of Somerville, paraded around in an overstuffed green costume, the words "Green Monster" stamped in red across his chest.

They were among dozens of dreamers vying for a few seconds of fame as the featured fan in an advertisement for Major League Baseball. The winner would be shown in league promotional clips, to air on national sports television networks in March and April.

Yesterday, Fenway Park opened its doors for auditions, but only the very best and brightest Red Sox fans made it past casting director Matt Meltzer's keen eye for talent. The most gifted, and wackily attired, were ushered into Suite 9 for a meeting with director Peter Gilbert.

"Keep it short," Meltzer said, as another round of hopefuls entered the room. "We don't have a whole lot of time together."

A blue and red river of young men and woman in Sox gear passed before Meltzer, each fan recounting his or her most memorable hit, game, or disappointment during the long years pining for a World Series. Ten by ten, they were assessed, studied, and then dispatched, each grasping the slight hope of a callback, each determined to show the depths of his or her devotion to the Olde Towne Team.

"'From '64 on, I've been to practically every game every year," said Anne Quinn, 79, of Weymouth. "I only missed one this year. It was because of Easter Sunday. My son-in-law's sister invited us out to New Hampshire."

Nodding and stroking his ginger beard, Meltzer listened to each would-be star. He offered neither praise nor criticism as he searched for the fan who perfectly embodied the essence of Boston baseball loyalty.

"I don't care what Theo [Epstein] is going to do next week or what you think Theo should do next week," Meltzer instructed one group of fans. "In about 30 seconds or so, I want to hear your favorite memory of baseball."

John Healey, 58, of Hyde Park, stepped forward, confident in his Sox jacket and hat, eager to put his decades of faith in the local nine to the test.

"'My grandfather took me to Fenway Park to see the greatest hitter that ever lived for my first game -- Ted Williams," Healey said. "A kid only 9 years old going to his first game, it was quite a thrill to see Ted Williams play and hear all about him through the years."

Not to be outdone, DiRocco said she had risked life and limb for her Sox.

"Going to Yankee Stadium in May for Pedro versus Roger," she told Meltzer. "You're in enemy territory so you have to be really careful there."

Miller, a high school physics teacher, worked the straightforward, scientific approach, stepping forward in his green, fuzzy get-up to answer Meltzer's next salvo, "What's special about baseball?"

"I would have to say it's just the magic of the game," Miller said.

Rosemary Bawn, 53, of Stow, held up physical evidence of her Sox obsession: a blanket woven with team logos. "I quilt to the Red Sox," Bawn said. "And I say every day, every day I'm so glad there's a game. And double-headers? Double headers are great! I will listen to the games and quilt."

Meltzer thanked them all for their efforts, and told them, gently, that not everyone can be a star.

"'If you don't hear from us in 24 hours, it means, that, you know, for whatever reason, we just aren't selecting you," he said.

After a moment huddled in a corner with Leah Gillis, his co-casting director, Meltzer returned with his verdict. Bawn, Quinn, Miller (and his wife, Emily, 26, who dressed as an overstuffed baseball), and DiRocco were asked to pose for Polaroid headshots, for further consideration by the talent team.

DiRocco, who had been one of the first fans to arrive, said the weather might have kept many fans away. "I'm glad that it was that cold," she said, as she prepared to leave in her stub-bedecked outfit. "That weeds out the weaker group."

The winner will be chosen in a few days and flown to Miami for the shoot, said Jacqueline D. Parkes, senior vice president for advertising and marketing at Major League Baseball.

Among those awaiting a callback was Paige Gould, 9, of Wayland, who had declared during her audition: "Me and my dad are the biggest Red Sox fans."

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