Fenway is Greening After Winter Snows


BOSTON -- Dirty snow melts on one side of the imposing green wall, while on the other, men armed with fertilizer and rakes engage in an annual rite of spring.

But this is not the ordinary battle with crabgrass that faces the average homeowner. Joe Mooney and his men are in charge of greening New England's prime symbol of spring -- Fenway Park.


'It's a job,' Mooney says nonchalantly as he supervises a crew of 15 that will make the ballyard sparkle when the Boston Red Sox open their home season against the Detroit Tigers April 13.

The 'job' includes turning the vast expanse of grass from winter brown to spring green, adding a coat of paint to every surface from the famed 'Green Monster' left field wall to seats, and hanging bunting off the facade of the 72-year-old ballpark tucked beside Kenmore Square at the end of the city's Back Bay neighborhod.


The work was complicated by an early spring storm that buried Boston under 7 inches of snow March 29. Small piles of snow remained on the steps of the first base stands and the groundskeepers had to hose it away to let the painters get on with their spring cleaning.

The field survived the onslaught in better shape because Mooney, in his 14th Fenway spring, had the tarpaulin covering the field he has been nurturing with fertilizer and love since the first leaves fell last autumn.

But the storm put him behind schedule and the threat of more foul weather adds a sense of urgency.

On this day, the rubberized foul line is being laid to the far edge of the outfield grass. Mooney is afraid to bring it to the wall until the ground dries and heavy equipment can be brought in without damaging the warning track by the wall.

The scoreboard is being spruced up and the pitcher's mound is being leveled off for the high-kicking fastballer who will inaugurate another season of dreams in New England.

But Mooney, who spent 10 years grooming RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., knows enough not to assume the road to the first pitch will be smooth.


'You never can tell,' he said. 'You think you've done it all and they hit you. It's always something.'

That was the case two years ago, when another sneaky storm dumped a foot of snow less than a week before the opener. Mooney says his crew had some tense moments, but was able to clear the field in two days and have the field shine for the opener.

The field is not the only place bustling with frenetic activity.

Under the stands, painters daub a fresh coat of red paint on railings and concessionaires scurry to account for the thousands of hot dogs and the oceans of beer that will be consumed.

In the souvenir shop, John Picardi lounges behind display cases stocked with T-shirts, caps and programs that will be purchased by the exuberant crowd.

But, Picardi says, the opener isn't the busiest day of the season. If the club goes on a hot streak, he says, the crowds will jam the store wedged in behind the grandstand.

Mooney and the others are grateful for the extra time afforded by the late opener. But he says he won't mind if the works extends into October and the World Series.


'That's not my department,' he laughs. 'But I hope so.'

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