Fans provide entertainment at spring training

Posted March 18, 2010, at 6:30 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:46 p.m.

At times, there is no place funnier than a ball park. Maybe it is the prolonged games that used to finish in 90 minutes. Now, with scratching, spitting and stepping out of the batter’s box plus four relief pitchers, the games can take three or four hours.

Spring training games, populated largely by old fogies like myself, are quiet affairs, compared to the “real” games at Fenway Park.

Dave Ferazzi, 38, a Fort Myers resident does his best to liven up the proceedings, from his seat in Section 214.

Usually he focuses on his favorite player, Kevin Youkilis. He explained his devotion to the Fort Myers newspaper. Youkilis “Is a tough gritty player who plays the game the right way. He’s just awesome. He’s the Red Sox.”

Youkilis wears the number 20, of course. When he comes to bat, no matter how many times, on the second pitch, Ferazzi perks up and chants:

“Here we go, 2-0.

Here we go.

Hey! I love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

The chant is quickly adopted by the surrounding fans, when many waken from their near-slumber to join in. No word on how Youkilis feels about all of this.

It is obvious how Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Tom Foley, feels about the attention. Foley, 51, played shortstop in the majors for 13 years with the Reds, Phillies, Pirates and Expos, batting .244 with 32 home runs and 263 RBIs.

But he probably never met a fan in any of those places like our boy Ferazzi.

Foley is another Ferazzi target. About the sixth inning of the Rays’ games, Ferazzi starts another chant:

Foooooooooooooooooooooley!

He does that for a few innings, getting the coaches attention. This has been going on for years.

After teasing him for several innings, Ferazzi finally unloads.

“Hey! Foley! You got a great ass!”

Last year, Foley took the compliment and started shaking his behind like a hula dancer. This year, he came prepared. When Ferazzi unloaded his chant this week, Foley whirled around and took a note from his pocket. He held up the sign for the fans and Ferazzi.

It said simply “Thank you!”

Maybe you just had to be there, but it killed the sunburned fans around third base.

Then there was the story about the lost bus driver. Years ago, Russ Letourneau retired from his job as a bus driver in Rhode Island and moved to Naples. Everyone who visited from Rhode island, started looking around Florida and liked what they saw and didn’t see (snow).

Now there is collection of Rhode Island bus drivers who convene at Red Sox games, naturally.

Last week, retired driver Ed Cole decided to meet Letourneau and his pals at Fort Myers. Through the magic of cell phones, they decided to meet in the celebrated Section 213.

As the game wore on, Cole didn’t show up and Letourneau started scouting the ballpark, looking for the missing driver. A bus driver should be able to find Section 213, it was reasoned.

“I am in section 213!” argued Cole over the phone. How could this be? Everyone started looking for Cole.

After some more conversation, a few insults and a few more swears, it was determined over the phone that Cole was in Section 213 all right. But he was at the Red Sox “split squad” game in Port Charlotte, a few miles to the north.

I thought it was hilarious. These guys were professional bus drivers.

Maybe you had to be there.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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