The Truck is ready, and any more snow is not going to stop Christmas from coming for Red Sox Nation.
For the 17th consecutive February, Al Hartz from New England Household Moving and Storage will be driving “The Truck,” the Red Sox equipment 18-wheeler, loaded with everything from guitars to golf clubs to motorcycles when he departs Fenway Park on Thursday to begin the ride down to Fort Myers, Fla., on the day known around these parts as “Truck Day.”
"I just can't wait to get out of Dodge," Hartz said Wednesday as the truck was being prepped with the 2015 JetBlue sponsored theme "Ready to Roll. Right Off the Bat" with an image of a swinging bat inscribed with "Go Red Sox!"
Hartz will arrive at Fenway around 6 a.m. Thursday, have his traditional breakfast at McDonald's, then begin the pack, assisted by the Red Sox crew, at Fenway.
The 1,480-mile trek to the Red Sox spring training complex at JetBlue Park will take about two-and-a-half days. After the Red Sox’ official ceremony at noon tomorrow, Hartz will try to make it to southern New Jersey for the first overnight stop. He'll then continue plowing down Route 95 and settle in somewhere in South Carolina for another night before making the run straight to JetBlue Park with an ETA in Fort Myers early Monday morning, when Red Sox clubhouse manager Tommy McLaughlin will be waiting to unload the goods.
"I remember back in 1995 when it was just five guys loading a truck," Kevin Carson of New England Household Moving & Storage said when talking about the transformation of Truck Day at Fenway. "Then Dr. Charles [Steinberg] got here [in 2002] and everything changed."
And now it's become a sign-of-spring event as The Truck will lead a procession down Yawkey Way at noon with Fenway ambassadors, Red Sox staff, and Wally the Green Monster tossing gifts to fans from a flat-bed truck.
The equipment and supply load on the 53-foot truck this year includes: 20,400 baseball, 1,100 bats, 200 pairs of batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 Batting Practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of pants, 400 t-shirts, 400 pairs of socks, 20 cases of bubble gum, and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.
Red Sox fanatic Jenney Griffin even baked cookies and brought them to Fenway for the festivities in 2012 when Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino handed out the crowd. Griffin tells Boston.com's Eric Wilbur that she won't be bringing her cookies to Yawkey Way Thursday as the snow is keeping her away.
So how does the 18-wheeler handle in the snow?
“Delicately," Carson said. "But the truck is up to all standards and D.O.T. requirements, and the tires are very new... everything's been checked out.
"It’s not the gun it's the gunner, and [driver] Al’s the best."
If you can't wait for tomorrow, have a look back at Truck Day a year ago when the theme "On The Road To Greatness" didn't exactly have staying power. Or take a look at the day back in 2012 2010, and 2009. Heck, we can go all the way back to 2006 with Truck Day photos if you really want to take your mind off the snow.
While players have been working out all winter and JetBlue Park is already full of early arrivals, the official reporting day for pitchers and catchers is Friday, February 20 with workouts the next day. The first full-squad workout is February 25 with Grapefruit League action against the Twins starting March 5.
Don't worry about the rotation, Clay Buchholz is already at JetBlue working on his ace-game:
So, it won't be long before the boys are back in town with no snow on the ground -- hopefully -- for the home opener at Fenway on April 13.