The 5th Annual Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend is currently taking place at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. This 3 day event started Friday January 18th and will conclude (today) Sunday January 20th. The event is an incredible celebration of The Boston Red Sox organization, their history, and many accomplishments (on and off the field). In attendance are Red Sox coaches, players, media, front office staff, organizational staff, affiliates, and sponsors – all being available for the fans to meet, greet, snap pictures with, and celebrate their recent World Series success.
My son Harrison is a huge baseball fan. And I say fan because he plays the game of baseball, watches the games on TV, is interested in trades and stats, knows the history of the game, and is active participant in conversations about the game of baseball. He is a fan of baseball because he loves the game. So, for Christmas this year, Santa got Harrison and I day passes for the Saturday portion of the Winter Weekend. Thank you Santa!!!
Foxwoods Resort Casino is about 1 hour from my home in North Kingstown. Easy to find, easy to get to. Parking was easy, too. We did the self park in the Fox Tower. Down the parking garage elevator to the casino level, we were off and running to registration to pick up our Day Passes in just about 10 minutes time. Winter Weekend was stocked with helpful volunteers. I would estimate several hundred volunteers dressed in matching long sleeve shirts were available for directions to registration, exhibits, autograph signings, and more. That was really helpful and quite frankly, necessary. The event was PACKED with Red Sox fans from end to end of the casino.
After picking up our Day Passes, we scanned through the program guide for the events and locations of exhibits. Our first stop was the Premier Ballroom. This massive conference room had transformed into a mini Fenway Park experience. If you have ever been to Fenway to see a Red Sox game, part of the allure is all of the festivities going on inside and outside the park. The banners and media and kids games and plaques and history that you see walking in and around Fenway were on display here in the Premier Ballroom. There were activities for kids of all ages available. Batting cages with live pitching. A pitching tent where you could see how fast you can throw a pitch. A virtual reality booth where you hit off a “live pitcher” at Fenway Park. A huge wiffleball field was constructed and kids were taking live batting practice. A steal home challenge where kids could race kids, kids could race parents, or kids could race Guerin Austin of NESN. And speaking of NESN, they had built an on-site studio and were hosting live interviews with Red Sox players, past and present. When the players finished at NESN, they moved over to the next booth which was a live feed from Red Sox radio partner, WEEI. It was awesome to see David Ortiz, Wade Boggs, Pedro Martinez, Rick Porcello, and Steve Pearce right there in front of us. Very cool experience for Harrison and myself.
Just outside the Premier Ballroom, a number of exhibitors were present to showcase events, leagues, and organizations affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The Pawtucket Red Sox had a booth. As did the Cape Cod League, with representatives from the Wareham Gatemen in attendance. The Red Sox Foundation staff were there handing out printed materials. And there were stations for face painting, caricatures, and even tickets sales for the 2019 season. There was a huge bar set up with drinks, refreshments, and food – most of it being Fenway Park type food and drinks.
This was by far the largest gathering of Red Sox fans outside of Fenway Park that I have ever seen. If you wanted autographs of the players and coaches, you really had to plan ahead and reserve a spot in the autograph signings. If not, you waited in very, very long lines which stretched up and down the long corridors of the casino. Harry and I decided to skip the long lines and partake in the Winter Weekend Game Show at the Grand Theater. The theater was absolutely packed with just a few seats left when we arrived. There was a panel of current players facing off against Red Sox coaching staff in a series of hilarious games. Players included Brock Holt, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and Eduardo Nunez. Games like “Name that City” and “Lobster Toss” were just a few of the games played in a New England State Fair type event. The players and coaches were really good sports and really connected with the huge crowd of fans. Especially Brock Holt, who has the most incredible personality and is a huge fan favorite.
After a few more rounds of batting practice in the Premier Ballroom, Harrison and I made our way to the trophy exhibit. The trophy exhibit featured a table of World Series trophies, which was a great photo opportunity. There were tables after tables of Gold Glove trophies, Batting Title Plaques, Cy Young Awards, and MVP Plaques for all to view. Players like Ted Williams, Yaz, Pedro, and Kevin Youkilis were all represented by their accomplishments. I found out that the player receives a trophy when they win an award and the team does as well, according to the helpful Red Sox staff member who was overseeing the exhibit. It was great seeing the plaques and remembering the players and their accomplishments to show Harrison.
Winter weather was beginning to creep in around late afternoon, so we took our final stroll around the various rooms. Volunteers began handing out bobbleheads (we got Benintendi and Vazquez) and we grabbed a few Red Sox schedules for the 2019 season. At one point, Harrison and I just stood and stared at all of the Red Sox stuff. The banners, the fans cheering for the players, the memorabilia, all of that Red Sox stuff that we live and breathe every day. After taking one last trip around the Premier Ballroom, we decided to grab an ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and make our way back to the garage and head home. As a fan and as a parent of a fan, it was one of the best baseball experiences I have ever been a part of.
Thanks to Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Boston Red Sox, and the hundreds of staff and volunteers at the event who were a tremendous help. The next time we see these players will be at Spring Training and then onto Fenway Park to defend their 2018 World Series Championship. Go Sox!!!