Former Boston Red Sox Plympton Reflects on Fenway's 100th Birthday Celebration
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher and current recreation director Jeff Plympton had a chance to take park in the celebration of Fenway Park's 100th anniversary earlier this year.
These days Jeff Plympton’s daily routine includes getting Sweatt Beach ready for the summer and maintaining the William Rice Recreation Complex.
Flash back to 1991 and Plympton’s routine likely revolved around getting ready to pitch for the Boston Red Sox.
Recently, Plympton had the chance to take part in the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and return to his former home park as an alumnus of the team.
Drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 1987 MLB draft, the former King Philip hurler from Plainville came to the team after a standout career at the University of Maine that saw him lead the team to an appearance in the College World Series.
“When I came in to the house my brother said ‘oh you’ve been drafted by the Red Sox’ and I couldn’t believe it,” Plympton said.
A member of the Sox’s farm system for most of his career, Plympton was fortunate to spend some time during the 1991 season as part of the major league team. Despite only getting four appearances for the hometown team, Plympton’s ERA was perfect at 0.00 during his short time with the team.
“That was a huge thrill for me just to get to Pawtucket at the time because I spent so much time as a kid going to Pawtucket games. Then to get the call to Boston is an amazing emotion that you can’t even describe,” he said.
His debut for the hometown team came at home against the California Angels. Up 13-3 late in the game, the young Plympton was tasked with keeping the 10 run lead, which sounds easier than it is for a rookie, especially in a venue as historic as Fenway Park.
“I knew everybody was watching," Plympton said. "My biggest fear was to go out there and have to be taken out of the game because I couldn’t hold a 10 run lead but got through it nicely, ended the game. It was quite intimidating because you’re just trying to make sure you use the talent that got you here and sometimes the emotions can take over and you don’t want that to happen.”
The rest of Plympton’s career was spent playing for the Red Sox’s AAA affiliate in Pawtucket until his retirement in 1993.
Nineteen years later, Plympton was invited back to wear a Red Sox uniform one more time as part of the team’s celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary in April.
Once again Plympton had a chance to walk to the mound of a Fenway Park that had changed quite a bit since his appearances in the early 1990s.
“Obviously the structure of the ballpark has changed over the years and that’s a good thing too," he said. "I look back at pictures of when I was pitching and what it looked liked. No Monster seats, up top was totally different. It was a little bit more barren up top and now it's all seats and high level pricing seats.”
Calling the decision to go to the 100th anniversary a no brainer, the celebration gave Plympton a chance to reconnect with old teammates and friends that haven’t been seen in some cases for over 20 years including former roommate Mo Vaughn and former Pawtucket coach and Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky.
The night before the celebration, the former members of the Red Sox and their families were given the chance to go on the field, something that use to be forbidden.
“If this was done 20 years ago under former staff we would of never stepped off the warning track area," he said. "Having my wife (Linda) go on there with me it's just like "wow.'”
When he isn’t working for the town of Wrentham, Plympton can be found running his Plympton Crush travel baseball teams of the New England Elite Baseball League.
With six teams ranging from the under-11 league to the under-16 league, there is plenty of talent left for Plympton to help develop and coach through summer leagues.
The anniversary celebration was not the only time that Plympton has been involved with the Red Sox in his post-playing days.
Today, Plympton still does four-five appearances a year at Autograph Alley before home games on Yawkey Way, staying connected with the team even over 20 years after his appearances for them.
“Just from the Fenway standpoint, it's always great to be involved in anything that goes on at Fenway," he said. "The Red Sox keep a guy like myself who relatively had not too much time in the big leagues pretty involved in events that they run.”