For a baseball lover, when does the new season begin? The first game of spring training, or when those magical words are uttered, “Pitchers and catchers report.” Or is it, perhaps, with Truck Day — the day that MLB organizations load up all of their equipment and set sail for warmer climes?
Today is Truck Day for the Boston Red Sox, that magical time when equipment is loaded into a semi trailer destined for Florida. The Red Sox turned a routine shipment into an event, selling naming rights to JetBlue and staging the actual departure for the media. Now, every MLB team does a Truck Day event of some sort.
For the Seattle Mariners, Truck Day was Tuesday, February 10th. A picture of the Mariners’ 53-foot truck, a plain white ten-wheeler, was posted on Twitter. “Departure time: 12:01 p.m.,” the Mariners posted, “#TruckDay #BaseballBegins.”
On Tuesday, off went the Mariners’ truck, bound for the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona. On the opposite coast, the New York Yankees were also celebrating Truck Day, Tampa in their truck’s sights. To the Kansas City Royals, located directly in between, this was merely “moving day” on Twitter, but the sentiment remained the same: the moment had come to pack and travel to Spring Training.
Truck Day is a special occasion in Boston, which elevated it to a new level. “It is traditional day for Truck Day rigs to ‘blend in’ on the highways with nondescript white sides and the mover logo,” Mark Newman wrote for MLB.com in 2011 — before describing the Boston Red Sox’s Green Monster-detailed truck, with its emblazoned “FIRST STOP FORT MYERS, NEXT STOP THE SERIES” on the image of the Fenway scoreboard.
In 2012, the message read “THE GREEN MONSTER’S ON THE MOVE.” In 2013, “BIG THINGS AHEAD.” Last season, “ON THE ROAD TO GREATNESS.”
Jason Mastrodonato chronicled Truck Day 2014 for MassLive.com with a sense of surreality: “Hundreds of people gathered on Van Ness Street to look at a truck. ‘We’re watching a bunch of guys pack cardboard boxes,’ said George Marble, who made the hour-plus trip from his home in New Hampshire on Saturday morning…. ‘It’s a religious holiday,’ explained Lauren Carlson, from Cambridge.”
Boston’s Truck Day celebration for Red Sox fans dates back to 2003. That, wrote Mastrodonato, was “when the new Red Sox ownership decided sports fans needed something to get excited about during the days between the Super Bowl and spring training.” Now it’s a full-fledged February event, covered by ESPN, and complete with its own @RedSoxTruckDay Twitter account.
The Detroit Tigers, celebrating Truck Day on Tuesday along with the Indians, Yankees, Royals, et al, also loaded a pair of trucks, organized by Tigers clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel for the 37th year. “When Schmakel was younger,” wrote Jason Beck for MLB.com. “Truck Day was literally one truck and it wasn’t even filled. With weight equipment, technology, video equipment, front-office luggage and ever more gear from manufacturers, it has become a two-truck assignment, filling both trailers at about 40,000 pounds apiece.”
The Cleveland Indians celebrated Truck Day on Friday, February 6, packing two 53-foot trucks and sending them off to Goodyear, Arizona. The cargo included “one pallet full of plastic bottles of Bertman’s Ball Park Mustard, about 25 sets of golf clubs,” Zack Meisel wrote for Cleveland.com, and, “for the third straight year… Terry Francona’s red scooter.”
Cleveland to Goodyear is about 2,000 miles in driving distance. The other side of the spectrum stars the Marlins, who needed only a pair of 24-foot trucks to make the two-hour drive from Miami to Jupiter. The Tampa Bay Rays have an even shorter distance to travel, approximately 85 miles.
One final Truck Day 2015 highlight took place in Chicago: the shipping of Paul Konerko’s locker, packed by Konerko’s request in the White Sox team truck. The rest of the equipment will head to Glendale, Arizona, as planned. Konerko’s locker has a different destination, his residence in North Scottsdale.
Side by side: Konerko’s career is at an end. The 2015 baseball season is about to begin.
Image courtesy of Andrews Moving.