A few months before JetBlue Park was set to open, the Boston Red Sox were looking to staff the new park’s game day staff. They were seeking energetic, enthusiastic workers who have a fan-friendly attitude and a sincere desire to enhance the fan’s experience.
After working down here for the past few weeks, I found the majority of employees have been working the Red Sox spring training circuit for years, even decades.
“All my life, I’ve been a Red Sox fan,” security guard Jim Collins said. “I’m from Boston originally, ex-military, so I have that security background.
“Six weeks out of the year, you’re the envy of everyone in Boston,” he added. “You’re the envy of all your friends, they all say, ‘You lucky dog, you get to work with the Red Sox.'”
Collins, born and raised in South Boston, retired to Southwest Florida and has worked with the Red Sox at spring training for 16 years.
His coworker, Tom Delaney, joked, “You can’t play golf every day; working with the Red Sox provides a nice six-week break.”
Delaney has been with the Red Sox spring training crew for nine years. A past baseball coach and athletic director, Tom came down to Florida for years to watch the Sox play. It was a natural decision to start working for the team after relocating to Florida.
“Everyone wonders what the job is like, always saying, ‘Oh you’re so lucky,'” Delaney laughs, adding that the best part is that “the grandkids love it.”
Retired police officer Bob Allen is one of the security guards who has worked at both the spring training facility and at Fenway Park in Boston for the last 10 years.
“My kids send me down here, they like for me to enjoy life,” he said. “I’m a Boston guy, but I like coming to Florida. It’s more relaxed down here, it’s a smaller facility.”
Another retired Massachusetts police officer of 30 years, Cal Grimes of Rockport, Mass., retired to Fort Myers seven years ago.
Grimes said, “I was a player, I was a coach, I was an umpire — I’ve been involved in baseball for over 60 years. My interest in baseball was such that I wanted to stay involved in some way. I feel in some small way that I am giving back to the sport that I love.”
Tom Frost of Newton, Mass., has been protecting the players and the fans for the last five years.
“We have a nice group of guys, and we have a good time,” Frost said, “I have fun, and we have great bosses.”
Born in Springfield, Mass., and now a retired resident of Naples, Fa., 73-year-old Bill Spanswick is now a first-year usher in his former team’s new facility. You read that right; Bill was a pitcher on the 1964 Red Sox team, making his big-league debut on April 18, 1964. He made a total of 29 appearances — seven of them were starts. He was managed by Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky.
You can find Spanswick in Section 213.
As I was leaving the park for the day, I ran into Izzy Rossy and asked why he returns to his security job after 16 years. He simply said, “I’m a fan of the Red Sox. I’ve always been a fan, so that keeps me coming back.”