BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown off Tuesday when he arrived at Fenway Park. Ellsbury called Boston “home” for seven years, but not since his stint in the Red Sox Rookie Development Program eight years ago had he entered the ballpark and headed for the visitors’ clubhouse.
It’s a life Ellsbury must grow accustomed to now that he’s a member of the New York Yankees. But while Ellsbury hopes to bring success to his new club, the former Red Sox outfielder couldn’t help but show admiration for the organization that drafted him while speaking with reporters before his first game at Fenway as an opposing player.
“I appreciate my time and I appreciate everything the (Red Sox) organization has done for me,” Ellsbury said before Tuesday’s game. “(The Red Sox) believed in me, from the time I was at Oregon State — a young man there — and seeing the potential. I appreciate everything this (Red Sox) organization has given me, but I’m excited for the second part of my career, which is being a New York Yankee.”
Ellsbury, who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005, played parts of seven seasons with Boston before signing a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees this past offseason. The talented outfielder went through many highs and lows, but he left Boston with two World Series rings and zero regrets.
“I gave the organization everything I had for seven years. … (I) left everything on the field (and) played as hard as I could,” Ellsbury said. “I appreciated the fans and the support they gave me over the years. They were great to me. It’s nice to see the (former) teammates. I think when I look back and the fans, how they treated me the time I was (in Boston), I’ll really remember that.”
It’s the two championships — in 2007 and 2013 — that Ellsbury perhaps will remember most. The first came when he was just a 24-year-old kid looking to stick in The Show, and the second came amid questions about whether his days in Boston were numbered. Both, as Ellsbury said Tuesday, were special.
“I can’t say enough about the championships,” Ellsbury said. “Those championships in ’07 and ’13, those are special and great teams. The teammates, the lifelong friendships I’ve made with guys in this organization, guys who have moved on to other organizations, guys that are still here, guys that I came up with. … There’s a lot of great memories here.”
The waters are much muddier when it comes to deciphering what Red Sox fans will remember most about Ellsbury. Perhaps it’ll be his postseason success or his dynamic style of play. But there’s also a widespread sentiment that Ellsbury underachieved during his time in Boston — largely because of his inability to stay on the field — and that leaving for New York represented an act of heresy.
Either way, Ellsbury only had good things to say about his former “home” upon returning Tuesday.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing here,” Ellsbury said. “I always enjoyed the fans, the passion, the winning atmosphere, the expectation of winning — those are all things that drew me to New York as well. I’m definitely blessed to have played here seven great years. A third of my life I spent in this organization (and) I’m definitely grateful for everything I received from them.”
Ellsbury now enters Fenway Park through a different entrance, uses a different clubhouse and wears a different uniform. But his respect for Boston and the Red Sox organization clearly remains very much intact.