Hanley Ramírez entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend: What’s it really like?

For the past few years, before the Red Sox have headed off to Florida for spring training, they’ve hosted a weekend get together for the Fenway Faithful at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. Back in November, we hit the “sign us up!” button for the Red Sox Winter Weekend the day tickets became available. We weren’t alone – the 2018 event, which was held on January 19-21, sold out very early, with reports of close to 7,000 in attendance.

We signed up for Winter Weekend because it sounded fun and interesting, but honestly, we had no clue what Red Sox Winter Weekend would be like. Sure, we’d read the schedule, but we still wondered who would be there, if this was really just a “kid thing” or if there was something for all ages, and ultimately, would it be worth what we’d sunk into the weekend? The event itself was only $65 per person, but staying at Foxwoods is a little pricey. Even with the Red Sox hotel discount, our two tickets and two hotel room nights put us back a total of $745 – and that didn’t include the cost of transportation to the event and dining at Foxwoods, which can also be pretty expensive.

Winter Weekend Prep

A couple of weeks prior to the event we received an email to sign up for our preferred sessions – one guaranteed autograph signing/photo session per attendee and one panel discussion per attendee. We made our selections and pre-registered for the events and, on Friday the 19th, we headed to Connecticut for our first Red Sox Winter Weekend.

For autographs, we purchased two MLB balls in advance and brought a game ball Greg had snagged last summer at a Sox game in Toronto. However, after arriving, we found balls and other memorabilia were available for sale in the gift shop in the Winter Weekend Fan Fest center (but we got a much better deal on the internet).

While some attendees came equipped with cameras, we decided to leave ours at home and just went with iPhone shots for the weekend. We did make sure to bring comfortable shoes, a necessity as the hotel is sprawling (we walked 8 miles the first day, 6 miles the second).

Boston Red Sox, Connecticut, Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Winter Weekend
Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Redsox Winter Weekend 2018

Arriving at Foxwoods, we were engulfed in a sea of Red Sox fans – young, old and everywhere in between. We’d booked our rooms through the Red Sox website and were quickly checked into our room in the Fox Tower. We had a nice king room with a western view overlooking the forest.

Our welcome package included tickets and wristbands for the Winter Weekend events we’d chosen, some general event information, and two grandstand tickets for a game at Fenway in April.

Winter Weekend: Redsox Town Hall

Kim Hull with Wally at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Kim Hull with Wally at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After an early dinner, we headed over to line up at the Grand Theatre entrance for the opening night event, the Red Sox Town Hall. During the wait to enter, Wally and Tessie, the loveable Fenway mascots, hung out with the fans, giving hugs and taking photos.

Kim Hull with Tessie at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Kim Hull with Tessie at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Red Sox Town Hall was open to all Winter Weekend attendees. Upon entering, we found aisle seats in a general admission side section a couple of rows behind the seats reserved down front for season pass holders.

Hanley Ramírez entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Hanley Ramírez entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kicking off the Town Hall, the 2018 Red Sox coaches, team members, and a few former players were introduced individually, making a dramatic entrance from the back of the auditorium, high-fiving fans as they made their way to the stage.

Christian Vazquez entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Christian Vazquez entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Providing a high-energy start to the evening, the players seemed to have as much fun as the fans as they made their way through the roaring crowd.

Chris Sale entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Chris Sale entering Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Once everyone was on stage, Winter Weekend attendees had their first view of the 2018 Boston Red Sox team and coaches, with the exception of a few players not in attendance and, of course, any that may be acquired in the final few weeks before spring training.

Boston Red Sox at Winter Weekend 2018 Red Sox Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Boston Red Sox at Winter Weekend 2018 Red Sox Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Red Sox chairman, Tom Werner, Red Sox President and CEO, Sam Kennedy, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, and the team’s new manager, Alex Cora, were joined by fan favorites, David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez, for an entertaining roundtable discussion and a fan Q&A. The Town Hall was excellent, providing an evening of excitement, humor, insight and fun for all attending.

Tom Caron, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Dave Dombrowski, Alex Cora at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Tom Caron, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Dave Dombrowski, Alex Cora at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 Town Hall at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

NESN was on hand to emcee and record the Town Hall and other activities throughout the weekend, with the Winter Weekend broadcast available for viewing by Red Sox Nation multiple times in the weeks following the event.

Winter Weekend: Fan Fest and Trophy Room

Golden Gloves and Silver Sluggers at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Winter Weekend Fan Fest was a huge area with a multitude of activities for fans of all ages including pitching and batting cages, Wiffle Ball, the NESN Zone, the VR Dugout, Ballpark Eats, a beer garden (with more than beer), and a merchandise area. While visiting, we picked up some Winter Weekend gear and four of the special offer half-price $50 gift cards good for merchandise back at the Red Sox Team Store in Boston.

Winter Weekend memorabilia and Red Sox Team Store gift cards
Winter Weekend memorabilia and Red Sox Team Store gift cards at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One of the highlights of the Fan Fest zone (and I think missed by many because it was very low traffic whenever we stopped by or looked in) was the trophy room next to the main Fan Fest room. Visitors could view the Silver Slugger awards and Gold Gloves that have been won by Red Sox players and fans could take a photo with the 2004, 2007 and 2013 World Series Trophies. Amazing!

Kim and Greg Hull with 2004, 2007 & 2013 World Series Trophies at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend
Kim and Greg Hull with 2004, 2007 & 2013 World Series Trophies at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Winter Weekend: Ticket Town

The Fan Fest area was also the site of Ticket Town, where attendees could purchase June, July, and August single game tickets prior to the tickets being made available to the general public. We purchased tickets for 18 summer games at Ticket Town and got great seats. The purchasing process was quick and easy, working directly with the helpful Winter Weekend Red Sox ticket staff. After adding the tickets for those 18 summer games to the 10 spring and fall games we’d purchased back in December, we are set for 1/3 of the 2018 home games.

Winter Weekend: Meeting players, getting autographs and taking photographs

One of the things we were most curious about prior to attending was how much the team, management, and former players would mix about the crowd. Our question was quickly answered.

On Friday night, we spotted countless team members around the hotel and casino. Upon returning to our room that evening, we found an autographed photo of Red Sox catcher, Christian Vazquez, had been slipped under the door to our room. What a cool surprise!

I went down to get takeout coffee Saturday morning and Dave Dombrowski was in line behind me. We chatted briefly about the Town Hall and, as we waited, if a staffer walked by, he called them over to buy them a coffee or breakfast. He’s a very nice guy.

Dennis Eckersley signing a ball for Kim Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Dennis Eckersley signing a ball for Kim Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

When we walked off the elevator later to start our Saturday events, Hall of Famer, Dennis Eckersley, was standing in the lobby near the elevator. He signed for those of us in the lobby and graciously took pics as he texted with someone and took a couple of calls about his schedule that day.

As far as the autograph and photo sessions, this was the one area of the event that suffered from the fatigue of hosting nearly 7,000 guests. The autograph and photograph sessions are essentially a lottery – you sign up for a room number and a time and are guaranteed one autograph and one photo during the session – but you have no idea who will be there until you enter the room.

Even though we had a specific time and room assigned with our pre-registration, we first waited in a line of hundreds of people in the hotel hallway, to then advance to one of four different holding areas, to then wait in line for the autograph and photo.

Heath Hembree and Deven Marrero signing autographs at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018
Heath Hembree and Deven Marrero signing autographs at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

So, who’d we get? My room had Heath Hembree and Deven Marrero signing and Craig Kimbrel taking photos.

Craig Kimbrel and Kim Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018
Craig Kimbrel and Kim Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut

Greg’s room had Andrew Benintendi signing…

Andrew Benintendi signing autographs at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018
Andrew Benintendi signing autographs at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

and Ben Taylor taking photos.

Dan Taylor and Kim Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018
Ben Taylor and Greg Hull, Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut

The entire process took over two hours and, quite honestly, was one of our least favorite parts of the experience. I realize it is the most challenging part of the event to manage with only a limited number of players to sign and 7,000 autograph seekers, but it was a great deal of waiting and chaos for an autograph and a photo.

Autographed baseballs from Winter Weekend 2018
Autographed baseballs from Winter Weekend 2018. Lower left ball: Dennis Eckersley, Lower right ball: Andrew Benintendi, Top ball: Rafael Devers, Rick Porcello, Heath Hembree and Deven Marrero. Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Winter Weekend: Panel Discussions

The panel discussions were our favorite part of the entire event. The first session we attended was the one we’d pre-registered for: “On the Mound” hosted by NESN’s Dave O’Brien with Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale.

Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, Dave O'Brien at the On the Mound Panel Discussion at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, Dave O’Brien at the On the Mound Panel Discussion at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was really, really good. When you see the players at the park, they have their game faces on and are understandably distant. Having been on the media side of pro cycling, we’ve shot enough press conferences to understand why athletes have to be a bit wary of the press and again, typically remain a bit distant. Which is why the panel discussions were so entertaining, providing a glimpse into the human side of the players. The players were open, taking question after question from the audience, sharing stories and bringing the crowd into their world.

David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Tom Caron at the Teammates for Life Panel Discussion at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018
David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Tom Caron at the Teammates for Life Panel Discussion at Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend 2018 at Foxwoods Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We liked “On the Mound” so much we decided to wait in the standby line for “Teammates for Life” and were lucky enough to snag seats for the session. The panel consisted of David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield with Tom Caron “moderating,” but with Papi and Pedro in attendance, Caron’s role was more like herding cats. The stories were hilarious and it was the perfect ending to the day and, for us, Winter Weekend.

While we stayed on until Sunday, we skipped the Saturday night movie “Sandlot” and the Sunday morning Wally and Tessie breakfast.

Overall, Red Sox Winter Weekend was well worth the money, although next year (yes, we already plan to attend), we will most likely head back to Boston on Saturday evening. For us, the Town Hall and panel discussions were the highlights, but that was us – with so many varied activities, attendees can arrange their own Winter Weekend schedules to match their personal preferences.

It was also spectacular to see families sitting at tables in restaurants talking to each other about the players they saw and the things they’d done that day, instead of just staring at electronic devices. There’s quite a bit of competition for the minds of that next generation of baseball fans, but it just goes to show you that quality entertainment and engagement, like Winter Weekend provides, can hold the attention of the young (and the old) – and that’s definitely a “W” for the sport of baseball.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.


 

World Series 2014 Game 3

Take me out to the… World Series

Cover: World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Of all the major sporting events held each year, attending the World Series is near the top on most sports fans’ bucket lists.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The crisp autumn air, the red, white and blue bunting, the sea of color in the home team’s park – all make the century-old October tradition the ultimate baseball fan experience.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The first World Series

In 1903, modern baseball’s first annual championship was played between the Boston Americans and Pittsburg Pirates.

World Series 1903
World Series 1903 Public domain image

Held to bring the National League and the newly formed American League together, the first World Series was held with Boston coming out the victor, winning five games to three. The following year, the owner of the National League’s New York Giants refused to compete with the Boston Americans because he considered the American League and the Americans to be inferior.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Since that time, the World Series has occurred every year except 1994, when the post-season championship was canceled due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

World Series 2014 Game 3: San Francisco vs. Kansas City

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following the first two games of the 2014 series in Kansas City, where the Giants picked up the game 1 win & Kansas City the 2nd, the teams moved west to San Francisco’s AT&T Park, which the San Francisco Giants have called home since 2000.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located in the South Beach area of San Francisco next to the bay, AT&T Park is a beautiful ballpark with stunning views and a design that celebrates historic ball parks.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

San Francisco, in their third World Series in five years, was ready and waiting for the Series and the world to pay a visit.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Hotels were packed, fans were decked out in orange, and restaurants held watch parties for those not lucky enough to score a ticket, as World Series fever permeated the city by the bay.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Speaking of tickets – we had two and the opportunity to capture a World Series game in all its glory.

Kim and Greg Hull, World Series 2014 Game 3
Kim and Greg Hull, World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Who goes to a World Series game?

Sure, the stars and the wealthy attend because it’s the place to be that night.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, for the most part, it’s the diehard fans that are there to participate along with their teams in taking on the sole remaining opponent with hopes of bringing home the championship trophy.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Baseball fans are a passionate group. They are statistic-obsessed and will argue about even the smallest element of the game. They hold on to hope even when they are down at the bottom of the eighth because, in baseball, any team can make a comeback up to the very last out.

My biggest moment was winning the World Series because everyone in my town was able to feel he was a world champion.”
Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983, Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

McCovey Cove

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

AT&T Park sits next to the San Francisco bay, with the area just beyond the right-field wall referred to as McCovey Cove. Named after famed Giant first baseman, Wille McCovey, boaters and kayakers float in McCovey Cove during Giants games in hopes of nabbing a home run ball hit into the cove.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Better yet – procuring a splash hit – defined by the Giants as “home runs hit by the Giants that land in McCovey Cove on the fly without hitting the Arcade or Portwalk.” Splash hits are actually tracked on the Giants website (as if there was a baseball statistic that wasn’t tracked).

But, this was the big leagues – the potential of a World Series home run – brought a new level of excitement for those hopefuls in the Cove vying for a post-season souvenir.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Royals take game three 3-2 win to take World Series lead

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Despite the best efforts of the Giants and the 43,020 fans in attendance (ok, maybe a few hundred were Royals fans), it wasn’t meant to be for San Francisco at game 3 with the Royals beating the Giants 3-2 to take a 2-1 World Series lead.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

But, as Yogi Berra famously stated, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The San Francisco Giants ultimately came back and won the 110th edition of the World Series in game 7 in Kansas City.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

World Series 2014 Game 3
World Series 2014 Game 3 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media