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June 11, 2006: Clean-Up Spot

Well, it just goes to show that no matter how long you follow baseball or what capacity you are involved in the sport, there is always something new you haven’t seen or done. Today I was at Fenway Park to see David Ortiz hit a 3-run walk-off home run against the Texas Rangers. That was not the new part–Big Papi does that kind of thing regularly. No, it was what happened after that and before the next game started.

See, at Fenway today they played a doubleheader. Problem was, it was yesterday they were supposed to play the doubleheader, but the rain did not cooperate. So today, in brilliant sunshine, the plan was to play two. The first game started at noon and the second was to start as quickly as possible after the first one ended–the gates were scheduled to re-open for the new crowd at 4:30, with a 5pm start time (so the game could be televised on NESN before the ESPN Sunday night exclusivity came into play).

In order to turn the ballpark over for the new crowd, the public address announcer exhorted people to pick up their own trash, but very few people actually did. So as soon as the crowd began to clear out, Fenway Park employees of every stripe began to put on gloves, fluff out trash bags, and start filling them.

Bill Nowlin and I were in the park today to pass out flyers for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) and recruit new members. (If you are into baseball history or love stats, you should join at www.sabr.org.) We had credentials for both games, so after the first game ended we were just supposed to wait around for the next one.

But just waiting around while groundskeepers, office workers, ushers, concessions employees (we could tell all these by their varying modes of dress and uniforms) were all drafted into trash pickup duty was hard. We drifted down toward the group who were fanning out from behind the visiting dugout. Finally Bill asked someone “Where can we get a bag and help?”

We were pointed to one guy who had trash bags and vinyl gloves. We each took a bag and gloved up, and went to work.

Pizza boxes, beer cups, ice cream spoons, the Sunday Boston Globe, chicken fingers, half-eaten hotdogs–almost every seat had something under it and we sped through picking up as much stuff as we possibly could. A bat boy in full home whites was doing it. Even Larry Lucchino, Red Sox Vice President, was filling up a bag in my section, though he was the only one of us who had a camera man following him around. Scoreboard operations put on the theme music to Sanford & Son and blasted it over the PA. My guess is that it was the only trash/junk-related song they could come up with (though surely they have a Garbage album up there..?).

I’d say with all the people helping, the main grandstand was cleared in under thirty minutes, which is pretty damn impressive. And here’s where I’m supposed to make a punny conclusion about trash or garbage or something, but with the Red Sox in first place (despite almost getting swept by the Rangers–only Papi kept it from being so), nothing appropriate comes to mind.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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