A 10-year-old Bar Harbor boy became part of the history that oozes out of the cracks and crevices at Fenway Park in Boston on Friday night.
Andy Hanscome and his father, Mark, shared a once-in-a-lifetime thrill before Game 1 of the American League Championship Series when Andy was chosen to officially open the game by announcing “Play ball” on the field before the first pitch.
Mark Hanscome, who has been taking Andy and oldest son Robert, 16, to Sox games “for 15 years straight,” had to work hard to convince Andy, who plays football in the Acadian League on Mount Desert Island, to miss a Friday practice.
“I asked him, ‘Andy, you might want to miss Friday’s practice,’ and he said, ‘No,'” said Hanscome.
Dad offered an incentive.
“I then asked him ‘How about skipping school?’ and he said, ‘Yes,'” Hanscome said.
As they entered the ballpark, a Red Sox ambassador – from Winslow – randomly approached the Hanscomes and asked whether Andy wanted to say “Play ball.”
Father and son happily, and excitedly, obliged.
“It was awesome. I never thought I was going to be on the field saying ‘Play ball,'” said Andy Hanscome, whose favorite player is Sox slugger Manny Ramirez.
Mark said he and his son spent about an hour on the field before the game against the Cleveland Indians, won by the Red Sox 10-3.
“It was really cool. They gave an award to Johnny Pesky, and [David Ortiz] got an award for something,” Mark Hanscome said.
Andy was more excited than nervous about his big moment and offered some tips for any other youths who might be fortunate enough to experience the same thrill.
“Just don’t be nervous and just yell, not as loud as you can, but don’t be nervous, and say ‘Play ball,'” said Andy, who attended his first Red Sox game at age 3 before attending his first postseason game Friday night.
While Andy didn’t feel any pressure, his dad was feeling a tad apprehensive.
Who wouldn’t, with 36,000 passionate baseball fans waiting for the words everyone in the ballpark wants to hear?
“There was tons of pressure,” Mark Hanscome said. “Photographers were taking pictures of Andy and I like you couldn’t believe.”
The crowd’s reaction was typical of the Red Sox Nation.
“Pretty much everybody yells when it comes to Red Sox fans. A lot of people get excited when the guy says ‘Play ball,'” said Andy Hanscome, a fifth-grader who played minor league baseball in Bar Harbor for the Cardinals last spring as a second baseman.
Mark Hanscome obtained the standing-room-only tickets for the game by logging on to www.redsox.com and entering for an opportunity to purchase tickets for the ALCS.
Although their tickets were standing-room-only, the Hanscomes spotted some open seats in the first-base grandstand.
“We found two seats that nobody was sitting in behind first base, and we had a really good view,” said Andy Hanscome, who added that one of those pesky steel beams blocked his view of the pitcher’s mound.
Before entering the park, Andy and his dad stood near the players entrance with many other fans hoping to score an autograph.
Andy didn’t get an autograph, but his hero shot a typical Manny smile his way.
“[Manny] actually waved and said something to [Andy],” said Mark Hanscome, who attended his first Sox game in 1975.
The experience even brought back some memories for Mark Hanscome, who was attending his second playoff game at Fenway. The first was Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS.
“I will never forget when I was Andy’s age back in 1975, when my dad brought me to the one and only game I went to [as a child],” Mark said. “That’s why I bring the kids. Just like you, we love the Red Sox.”
Before Friday, Mark had been 0-for-1 in playoff games at Fenway, as he and his wife, Mary-Deane, witnessed the 19-8 massacre at the hands of the New York Yankees.