Pumped Red Sox fans line street for Truck Day

Pumped Red Sox fans line street for Truck Day

BOSTON -- Hundreds of New Englanders, fresh off the euphoria of watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl in epic fashion, lined up along Van Ness Street on Monday morning to start the momentum toward what they hope will be another championship season.

It was Red Sox Truck Day that gave the fans a reason to congregate outside of Fenway Park so soon after witnessing a Boston sports team winning a championship for the 10th time in a span of 15 years.

By noon, the 53-foot truck full of equipment was en route to Fort Myers, Fla., where pitchers and catchers are set to report on Sunday.

"These are the best fans in the world," said Red Sox president Sam Kennedy. "Every year, they come out. It's the perfect way to kick off the season after what the Patriots did last night. We're all still riding high. I'm surprised everybody is awake.

"We were talking in the office, if you're 25 to 30 years old, what you've experienced the last decade and a half in Boston sports is just amazing. Congrats to the Kraft family and everybody over there at the Patriots. It was a night we'll never forget. This is our way of kicking off the year. It's the perfect transition to baseball."

The enthusiasm for the departure of a truck on a brisk, windy morning was yet another display of the passion of Boston fans. The Red Sox turned Truck Day into a celebration beginning in 2003.

"Let's give some props to Dr. Charles Steinberg," said Red Sox historian Gordon Edes. "He was the guy who really had this idea of turning Truck Day into an event. And the heck with Punxsutawney Phil. We have our own harbinger of spring right here with the truck. I just think it's so cool that fans will come out here to Fenway, because it signals to all of us that baseball season is six weeks away."

Yes, now it's time for baseball. Soon enough, winter coats can be stored away. And there will be plenty of fans who will journey to Fort Myers for a spring getaway.

"I've always wanted to come to Truck Day, and I've never been able to until this year because I was always in school or work and couldn't get out here," said Ashley Viator, a 28-year-old fan from Ipswich, Mass. "This is the first year I actually had the opportunity to come to Truck Day. It's so much fun. It really is. My spring starts today because the truck is leaving."

And it couldn't come soon enough for Viator.

"Baseball is my favorite. If the Celtics aren't on, pretty much the only thing that has been on my TV has been MLB Network, 24/7," said Viator.

For the 19th straight year, Milford, Mass., native Al Hartz was entrusted with driving the truck south to Florida. He is expected to arrive by Wednesday night. Included in his haul are 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 200 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.

"I think this is really wonderful. It's just a carryover from the energy of last night," said Phil Delany, 70, from Abington, Mass. "That was such an amazing night. All this energy is here right now and we're just rooting for the Red Sox to do really well this year, and I think they will. I think it's going to be a wonderful year, and this is how we get it started."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.