Twenty years from now, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, will say they were at Hanscom Civilian Air Terminal to welcome Daisuke Matsuzaka to Massachusetts. Only the hundred or so who were there with me can say this truthfully.
I work in Waltham, so Hanscom is not far. I left early knowing that I would get lost. My lack of navigational skills combined with the Bay State’s notorious lack of road signs conspired against the clock like Scott Boras’s negotiations tactics. The Google Maps route I had printed out was useless as I made a last-minute decision to use surface roads to get to 2A rather than 128 North because of traffic.
That maneuver saved me just enough time to get lost. I turned right instead of left at a crow-foot intersection onto a road that was helpfully labeled “2A.”
Alas, it was 2A East, not 2A West.
Fortunately, I had been lost in this area before. I reversed course and made my way to the air field. As I drove on 2A (in the correct direction this time), my friend Joe called. You might remember him from our post-game stalking sessions. I had convinced him to come, but it didn’t take much. Unlike me, he printed out the descriptive directions from Hanscom’s web site and read them out loud to me as I carefully cut through the dark Bedford night.
Joe took 128, so I beat him to the parking lot by a few minutes. While I waited, I attempted to get my bearings and decided the building marked “Hanscom Civilian Air Terminal” was the place to go. Luckily, he arrived and pointed out a conspicuous grouping of media vans replete with satellite dishes in the opposite direction. Inviting him was essential.
Since Joe is over six feet tall, I had to run to keep pace with his brisk walk. We made our way to the already-gathered crowd and saw John W. Henry’s Red Sox jet parked with stairs unfurled. Matsuzaka, Boras, Theo Epstein, and Larry Lucchino had already disembarked the plane.
We stood there grinning stupidly, me tiptoeing to try to see the dramatis personae get into their vehicles and Joe being able to see as much as the air traffic controllers in their tower thanks to his height. “Scott Boras sucks!” he pretended to yell.
A woman who probably worked for the Red Sox press relations office came by. “He’s in the first car after the police car. Cheer that one.” Fans with WEEI signs emblazoned with “youkoso,” which means “welcome,” began to stir. A few people toted hand-made signs.
“Cheer loud!” urged the PR martinet. But she couldn’t whip up a frenzy.
Instead, a quiet appreciation was extended. People applauded and a few exclaimed “Welcome to Boston!” I yelled “Welcome to Massachusetts!” and waved excitedly as he passed by. I chose that specific phrase because I didn’t want him to think this tiny airstrip was Boston proper. Right when he was in front of me, he waved...
To me? I like to think so.
His path to the Red Sox, like my drive to Hanscom, wasn’t arrow-straight. But we made it, and that is what matters.