Fans attending games at Fenway Park likely know their faces, but not their names. They may not have game, but without them, there would be no game. They are the people who set the stage on which the Red Sox and their visitors cavort, and they are brought out of the shadows in the opening episode of MLB Network's "Down The Line," which premiered Saturday afternoon. The documentary, produced by Nick Barnicle for Prospect Productions, takes an intimate, affectionate and appreciative look at the support personnel who make an evening at The Fens go smoothly.
Viewers are introduced to Chris Cundiff, a Red Sox bat "boy" for 15 years who has a day job at an insurance company, clubhouse manager Pookie Jackson, clubhouse attendant Dean Lewis, grounds-crew member David Barkhouse and Jackie Dempsey, who multi-tasks as a ballgirl and as a fan-services "ambassador." Setting the stage for the start of a homestand, the film begins with the 2:40 a.m. arrival from Logan Airport of the team's bus and equipment truck. While Red Sox players grab their luggage and disperse into the early morning darkness, the clubhouse workers grab their work tools -- the duffel bags filled with gloves and spikes. And so begin the daily preparations, 17 hours before that night's first pitch is delivered. "The clubhouse kids are great," Red Sox manager Terry Francona says in the documentary. "They're here more hours than anyone would think." Pausing while sorting equipment into its owners' lockers, Cundiff notes, "There's not a lot of glamour. Still, I wouldn't trade places with anyone. It's a little easier when you win."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.