While Hot Stove talk goes on from the end of the World Series to the start of Spring Training, it’s nice to get a midwinter taste of the real thing; the boys of summer may not take the field, but here in Boston we’ve had a very full month of rookies, prospects and veterans alike! Needless to say I’ve been snapping away… click thumbnails below for larger photos!
Sunday, January 6 marked not only the eve of the Red Sox Rookie Development Program but the annual Hot Stove concert at the Paradise. In years past players have appeared, but this year we made do with some Sox brass
prominent Sox fans…
and one former player!
On Saturday, January 12, the Jimmy Fund held their third annual New Stars for Young Stars fundraiser at Jillian’s, right down the street from Fenway. Gabe Kapler, now signed by the Brewers, appeared in something of an elder statesman’s role, while Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester represented the 2007 World Series Champions. A selection of Sox prospects–Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, Bubba Bell, Ryan Kalish and Nick Hagadone–rounded out the bill. It was a delight to meet Bowden and Masterson in particular, and Jed Lowrie’s long been a favorite of mine.
Jed Lowrie and me, photo by the Red Sox Chick. Thanks!
Next up was the benefit for the Red Sox Foundation at the Team Store on Yawkey Way, featuring the twelve players selected to take part in this year’s Rookie Development Program. Since last year’s event I’ve suspected that while this is a treat for the fans and a nice fundraiser, it’s also an illustration for the rookies of the invigorating but potentially oppressive lunacy of Red Sox Nation. This year my suspicions were confirmed…
Meg Vaillancourt, executive director of the Red Sox Foundation, was
happy to help the future stars try to get accustomed to the intensity
that is Red Sox Nation.
"This teaches them what to expect when they get here, how to handle
being bombarded by fans, sign autographs and how to deal with having a
sore hand afterward."
Even Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie looked a little apprehensive as they walked in
but they seemed to relax a little as they figured out that none of us were actually dangerous.
Thursday night brought the biggest event: the Boston Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner at the Westin Waterfront. Judging by audience reaction Mike Lowell reigned as king for the evening, though his court included Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Theo Epstein, Dave Magadan, and John Farrell at the head table while the rookie development pups sat at tables right up front.
Saturday, January 19 it was time to celebrate the minor leagues, as the PawSox held their Hot Stove party in the inner sanctums of McCoy Stadium. Showing no signs of flagging enthusiasm, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, Dusty Brown and Jonathan Van Every joined PawSox manager Ron Johnson in greeting fans and signing autographs!
What I enjoyed most about this series of events, aside from spending time with baseball friends and acquaintances, was getting a chance to meet the young men on their way up in the Sox organization. I often cite Theo’s statement that to become Red Sox GM he had to give up being a fan, and I know that in some ways my belief that the Sox should hang on to Lester, Masterson, Lowrie, Bowden et al. is indeed that of a fan. But this is a remarkable group of prospects, in talent and in character, and I have to say that if I had a vote, I’d hang on to every last one of them.