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OK, so just what does the official plumber do?

F.W. Webb becomes latest to join lineup of Fenway sponsors

The Red Sox already are legendary for selling oddball sponsorships -- everything from the ''official data storage provider of the Red Sox" to the team's official windshield-replacement company.

But in their latest corporate deal, they may have outdone themselves: They have chosen an official plumber.

Not just any official plumber, but an official distributor of plumbing, heating, HVAC, pipe-valves-fittings supplies. F.W. Webb Co. of Bedford will get its logo on the Green Monster -- and even will get to install the toilets and sinks for the team's new EMC Club, the exclusive seating area where the bigwigs paying $275 a game will get only the best for their plumbing needs.

Despite the clear allure of being the team's official plumbing distributor, the company's owner, John D. Pope, said the exposure of a Green Monster sign was the biggest draw for F.W. Webb. Its sign will replace the logo for Bob's Stores, which decided not to renew its sponsorship.

''We thought we'd step up and do the whole thing," Pope said.

Becoming an ''official sponsor" gives companies the right to use the Red Sox logo in their advertising, and they get to be the only sponsor in their particular category. (D'Angelo, for example, makes the only official sandwich of the Red Sox, while Papa Gino's makes the only official pizza).

Plenty of other companies advertise at Fenway Park, but without the official sponsor designation, they do not get the same level of exclusivity. In order to transition from a mere ''advertiser" to an ''official sponsor," ''You have to spend money," said Sam Kennedy, the team's senior vice president of sales and marketing. He declined to say how much the deals cost a year -- but think high six figures.

Since being an official sponsor means that only one company holds rights to each category, Kennedy and his team spend much of their time thinking up obscure new categories in which to sell sponsorships.

Right now, they are hunting high and low for an official document storage company for the Red Sox, an official timekeeping device, and an official home security provider.

They also want to fill another big hole: waste management (a.k.a. the official garbage collector of the Red Sox.)

Still, even the Sox business executives who brought us the ''official lighting distributor of the Red Sox" acknowledge that all this official-ness has an upper limit. (The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe, has a 17% stake in the Red Sox.)

Kennedy said the Red Sox have an art committee, chaired by chief executive Larry Lucchino, that vets new corporate signs. He thinks the Sox will be largely done selling new signs for Fenway in the next year or two.

''The whole look and feel is well thought out," he said. ''We don't just slap up advertising -- although I might like to."

Sasha Talcott can be reached at

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