Updated: Oct 19, 2020
According to springtrainingcountdown.com, there are 123 days left until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. It seems like a lot of things will need to go right for that to happen as planned, but at least the countdown has begun.
Today we released the Third Edition of Red Sox Magazine. I haven’t kept close track of the statistics, but I can confidently say that since 1993 I have designed more than 100 of these magazines, including 4-6 issues per season, plus Spring Training editions, Division Series special editions, inserts for ALCS and World Series program books, and even a few commemorative books for the 2004 World Series and the 1999 All-Star Game.
Just like everything else that is a little skewed in 2020, this issue of Red Sox Magazine will be released online only, the first time in 27 years that we have not gone to press. I have a quite a stack of fire starter in my attic, having socked away at least one printed copy (and often 3 in the event my kids someday want a complete set of the books to remember me by) of most everything I have designed for them. It is a bit disappointing to know that I won’t be able to add this edition to my stacks, but it is much easier to circulate the online edition to friends and family!
Years ago, before the new ownership took over, the Red Sox used to shut down their offices in the off-season and most of the staff had a long break from October to January. The first time I met with the publications staff (of 2) in 1993 to plan the magazine, there was no heat in the building. The main door on Yawkey Way was locked and abandoned, so we entered through the Ticket Office and walked up a dark staircase to access the office area. There were enough lights on to make our way to the conference room, and just a few offices were in use, mostly by Larry Cancro and Dick Bresciani who sat in winter coats and fielded whatever offseason business that came in while the staff was away.
To put a little perspective on the timeline, and make me feel even older than I already do, here a few Red Sox facts from 1993: Butch Hobson was Manager and Lou Gorman the General Manager. John Harrington owned the franchise, and Andre Dawson, who had signed as a free agent in December 1992, was on the cover of my first edition. The team went 80-82 that year, 5th in their division, and it was the Toronto Blue Jays who took home the World Series trophy, beating the Phillies 4 games to 2. When I look through the staff directory today, few names remain from when I laid out the list the very first time, including Cancro, Richard Beaton, and some baseball operations staff like Jack McCormick, Tom McLaughlin and Joe Cochran whom I’ve never met since they are far removed from marketing and publications duties.
During the regular season, the Red Sox offices are always humming. For years Helen Robinson cheerfully greeted me at the reception desk, and the small publications/marketing/communications department typed busily at their cubbies in one big room just outside the glass-walled offices of their bosses. Lou Gorman and John Harrington were always darting down the hall, but often stopped in to give advice and opinions on content and layout during production meetings. We usually met in a messy conference room overlooking Brookline Avenue, but when that was booked, we would sneak into a larger conference room across the hall from Harrington’s office that overlooked the field.
Even in the offseason, Fenway Park is magical. The view from that conference room is still breathtaking. I cannot recall a time when the grass was anything but brilliant green, whether January or July. In those days, no one was allowed on the field except for grounds staff, and Fenway Park tours were restricted to a small section of the warning track near the scoreboard. But sitting in that conference room overlooking the Park as it was suspended in time, waiting for the next game, the first pitch, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn, the familiar ring of organ harmonies and the roar of the crowd, was captivating and awe-inspiring for me as a lifelong baseball fan and fledgling designer.
Because there was no design department in those days, I did pretty much all of the print design for the Club. Preseason we would prepare pocket schedules (each vendor needed a special version with their own ad on the back panel), the media guide and a magazine for Spring Training sales. As the regular season approached, I designed invitations for Opening Day events, credentials, game tickets, tour brochures, alumni newsletters, season ticket mailings, billboards and even menus for dining rooms and private suites. Sleep was optional back then, and I spent plenty of late nights in front of the computer to meet deadlines. I’ve never missed a deadline, though, and over the years I have had to fire up my laptop in some beautiful remote offices to get the job done, including a posh hotel in Monte Carlo overlooking the Mediterranean and a stone patio with million-dollar views of olive tree groves in Umbria.
When Ted Williams died in 2002, I was in the hospital having just delivered our third baby. I remember watching Bruce Hall play Taps all alone in left field from the TV in my hospital room. The Red Sox planned a poignant on-field tribute to Williams two weeks later and asked me to design a commemorative ticket and keepsake folio for fans. With my brand new daughter asleep in her bassinet and two young boys running amok, I put together those pieces just in time for the memorial ceremony. I made sure to save 3 copies of each.
Things changed drastically in 2002 when John Henry and Tom Werner bought the franchise. They brought determination and creative energy to the old Fenway location, and all thoughts of moving the park to a new location vanished as the new owners began renovating and revitalizing the tired stadium. They have expanded the brand in every way possible—apparel now comes in all colors and styles, tour groups visit nearly every inch of the Park, new Monster Seats loom over the left field wall, and you can even get married or host a corporate event in one of the many executive suites and restaurants.
GM Theo Epstein made inroads with players as well, all of which paid off in 2004 as the Red Sox reversed the curse and won their first World Series championship in 86 years. I was in the grandstand at Fenway Park for Game 4 of the ALCS when the Red Sox turned things around, stealing a late-night win from the Yankees then adding 3 more wins that propelled them into the World Series. It was electric when Dave Roberts stole second and pure chaos when David Ortiz blasted a home run to win Game 4 in extra innings. Even the swarm of Yankees fans sitting around us knew they had witnessed history.
I was in the office at Fenway for Game 7 of the ALCS that year, helping a skeleton crew finish up the last of the post season media guide in the event the Red Sox won the series. After the last pitch, the streets around the Park erupted with jubilant fans and the partying lasted until daybreak. Staff who were in the stadium kept dropping by to congratulate us and drop off food, and I was only able to sneak home for a couple of hours before we began final preparations for the World Series.
The Red Sox did the unimaginable that year, winning 7 straight games including sweeping the Cardinals for their first World Series trophy since 1918. There was no media guide to finish after Game 4, but I got a call from Charles Steinberg asking if I could help put together a full-page thank you ad to run in The Boston Globe the next day. After trading a number of calls and emails over night, I pushed "send" around 4am so the ad could get to the Globe in time to be printed that day s. A few hours later, I picked up my commemorative copy at Ferns.
The new owners have made many personnel changes over the years, and staff has ballooned in every department. The Club has taken big strides to grow their marketing and communications reach, tapping outside agencies, connections from other clubs and eventually hiring an art department to bring graphic capabilities in-house. The amount of content they can generate now is very impressive. I have managed to hang onto a few projects despite the transition, including the Spring Training program, Red Sox Magazine, and the alumni newsletter. Since I am an independent contractor, the Red Sox have had no obligation to use me all of these years. They have kept me onboard, though, and even under the cloud of a global pandemic with an oddly abbreviated season, we managed to produce 3 magazines so far this year.
I have enjoyed many perks from my relationship with the Club over the years, and have luckily scored elusive tickets for some post season games, all of the World Series wins, and the 1999 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. I’ve worn full-length down parkas on Opening Day, gone to corporate parties in private suites, saw Bruce Springsteen live in the first-ever Fenway Park concert, and even sat in one of John Henry’s private boxes next to the Red Sox dugout where I could practically reach out and touch Xander Bogaerts and Alex Cora. That was actually the closest I have ever gotten to a Red Sox player, except for the time I did get to meet Mike Timlin when he stopped by Fenway while I was in a production meeting.
The Red Sox are extremely generous, too, always providing auction items for charity events when I have asked, sending custom ornaments and snow globes at the holidays, and offering me regular staff discounts and best seats available for ticket requests. There have been times when the staff have pulled autograph balls right out of their desk drawers if I asked at the last minute. I have a framed rendering of the “new” Fenway Park I received as a gift many years ago hanging in my basement, a grand plan that never materialized. Of course, I still hold out hope I'll get a World Series ring of my own some day—a girl can always dream.
Below is a link to the latest edition—there’s a great article by Justin Long about how the Sox are poised for success next year despite a disappointing 2020 season. I would agree that 2020 has been pretty disappointing on many levels—let’s hope his forecast applies to more than just baseball!