A pair of games—meaningless in the standings—sandwiched between two Red Rolfe division series.
But the Beanpot Classic—at least the second round—isn’t played in any other venue. It’s played in Fenway Park.
“I’m thrilled,” said sophomore second baseman Brendan Byrne, a native of Milton, Mass. “When I was looking at schools, that was a big thing baseball-wise, getting to play in Fenway Park. Every kid growing up around here, that’s their dream—to hit a ball off the Green Monster.”
The same Green Monster Ted Williams once stood in front of and Carl Yazstremski once hammered with line drives.
John Updike’s “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.”
The home of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
“I am very excited to go back to Fenway,“ captain Schuyler Mann said. “The whole point of the Beanpot is to get out on a major league field, especially one with so much history.”
The Crimson will have to wait one day, though.
Harvard (17-10, 10-2 Ivy) will open the 16th annual baseball Beanpot against UMass at LeLaucher Field—home of the Red Sox A-affiliate Lowell Spinners—at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
The winner will advance to the championship at Fenway at 5 p.m. tomorrow. The consolation game will be played at 2 p.m.
Thursday will mark the Beanpot’s return to Fenway after a controversial one-year absence.
Last year, both rounds were played at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton after Red Sox officials claimed the days slated for the tournament had to be used to re-sod an infield damaged by a cold and rainy April. It was the first year in the history of the event that it wasn’t held at Fenway.
“We had a great time playing in Brockton,” Mann said, “but it wasn’t the same. The whole point of the Beanpot is to play in Fenway.”
The tournament takes on special significance for local players.
Though the baseball Beanpot doesn’t create nearly the same competitive frenzy as its hockey counterpart—highlighted by fierce rivalries and national attention—playing against your former Little League and high school teammates always makes things more exciting.
“There are a couple kids I played with growing up [playing in the Beanpot],” Byrne said. “I know a lot of the BC kids, especially. So hopefully we can win and get some bragging rights.”
The Crimson will have its work cut out for it, especially if it makes it to a potential championship showdown with BC.
The Eagles (23-11, 9-4 Big East) are currently the No. 1 team in New England according the the New England Collegaite Baseball Coaches poll, and are also the two-time defending champion of the tournament.
BC beat Harvard 6-0 at a snowy O’Donnell Field last Tuesday.
“I think we’re definitely going in with a lot of confidence,” Mann said. “We aren’t going to feel any anxiety, but just go out and have a good time. That’s when we play our best.”
Due to the format of the tournament and its position in the schedule, the Crimson will play 10 games in just nine days. Usually Harvard plays only a single midweek game, but the extra nine innings shouldn’t be a problem, according to Mann.
“I don’t think it’ll be a physical drain,” Mann said. “They’re games that everyone’s looking forward to. Looking back I can’t ever recall there ever being any physical tax taken on the team.”
Brown and Cornell are scheduled to make-up their rained out doubleheader today in Ithaca. A Brown sweep would give the Bears a 10-2 Ivy record, and move them into a first-place tie for the Red Rolfe division lead with Harvard….The Crimson will travel to Providence to play four games this weekend, a doubleheader each on Saturday and Sunday….Northeastern and BC will face off in the second semifinal of the Beanpot at 5 p.m. today at LeLaucher Field.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at email@example.com.