Fenway Park a unique change of scenery for UMass baseball
BOSTON – Walking through the turnstiles and up the ramps of historic Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball after its construction and opening in 1912, can be a special feeling for newcomers and old-timers alike.
The 37-foot 2-inch Green Monster in left field with the landmark Citgo sign looming in the distance, coupled with the Pesky Pole that hangs just 302 feet from home plate in right field and the 420-foot triangle out in center, Fenway holds no shortage of intricacies and amenities.
Add to that the history of “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” which is as storied as any baseball stadium in the country, and it’s easy to see that gracing the field over on the intersection Yawkey Way and Kenmore Square in Boston to play nine, or seven innings as was the case Wednesday afternoon in the Beanpot consolation game between the Massachusetts baseball team and Northeastern, is as coveted as any experience in college athletics, particularly for New England student-athletes.
“It’s probably one of my craziest moments in baseball,” UMass outfielder and West Hartford, Conn. native Dylan Robinson said. “Growing up being a Red Sox fan you kind of watch it and see Fenway Park all the time and you don’t really realize how special it is.”
“Before the game I got to go into the little back room inside the Green Monster, which was pretty cool.”
The Minutemen got to swing the bats where famous Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams did back in the 1940s. Dylan Morris patrolled the outfield like Carl Yastrzemski and Fred Lynn did just decades prior. UMass starting pitcher Casey Aubin stood on the mound that Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez threw off of and catcher Matt Bare manned the backstop where Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk did throughout the late 1960s and 70s.
It’s a different change of pace for the struggling Minutemen (9-21, 3-6 Atlantic 10), who typically play their home games at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst, took to the home Red Sox dugout at Fenway Wednesday afternoon. After falling in 10 of its last 12 in April, UMass scored six runs and held off the Huskies’ (16-17, 9-3 Northeast Conference) rally, besting Northeastern 6-5.
Aubin got the win on the bump for the Minutemen, pitching 4.2 innings in permitting eight hits and all five Husky runs.
Even in the midst of a mid-season start, it’s hard not to appreciate Fenway’s lore.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience, obviously,” Aubin said. “Not many people get to do it. It’s tough before the game just looking at your surroundings and seeing how many great players have played here. It’s tough but you have to lock in for the win and just really take it in.”
“Growing up a Red Sox fan, you watch all the games and you come to games and all the big league players make [Fenway] look so small and you come here and you realize how big the field actually is and how overwhelming it is,” he added.
Robinson had arguably the most difficult task of all, manning the Green Monster out in left field, a position that has given even the best outfielders at Fenway difficulties.
“It was weird,” he said. “It was weird knowing that there were fly balls that I definitely could have caught that ended up careening off the wall and going crazy.”
UMass baseball coach Mike Stone coached his final game in the Fenway confines, this being his last season on the bench for the Minutemen.
Stone has coached in the Red Sox dugout at Fenway before, and emphasized to his team prior to taking the field that this was a business trip.
“For them, you don’t want it to be a field trip. You want it to be a game that they’re going to lock in and try and win a ballgame,” he said. “You either have to worry about two things; it being a field trip and them being all jammed up that they can’t compete. I don’t think that they were jammed up today but it was sort of a field trip early and we got passed that. We locked in and won the ballgame.”
Kyle DaLuz can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.