Swapping baseballs for pucks

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

BOSTON -- Like many kids who grew up in hockey-mad Canada, Jason Bay understands the concept of standing in a driveway and ripping pucks or tennis balls off a garage door as if it were a net.

Now, years later, Bay, the left fielder of the Boston Red Sox, spends many of his days standing in front of arguably the world's biggest garage door.

A 37-foot-high garage door.

One known as the Green Monster.

For almost a century the towering metal wall, one of the most famous landmarks of any sporting facility in the world, has been peppered by whizzing line drives that make an ear-ringing "thud" upon each and every impact.

But, with historic Fenway Park being converted into an outdoor hockey facility for the Jan. 1 clash between the host Boston Bruins and the rival Philadelphia Flyers, Bay was asked what it would be like to fire a few pucks off the Monster, almost as if he were standing in a driveway again.

"How cool would that be?" said Bay, a native of Trail, B.C. "I'll tell you this much. You could fire some off it, but I doubt you could get a puck over it."

Not without a catapult, anyway,

Bay figures the 2010 Winter Classic will be a resounding success. Because of the interest in hockey in Boston. Because of the presence of the Flyers, who have always played the role of villains whenever they have come to town. And because of the special venue that is Fenway Park, which is quickly approaching its 100th birthday.

"It will be a historic scene," said Bay, who experienced one of the most memorable moments of his career earlier this season when Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, one of his idols, slipped out of a door of the Monster and greeted an unsuspecting Bay, who was standing in left field watching his pitcher warm up.

Of course, the historic ballpark's ties to hockey run deeper than having the Bruins' famous No. 4 make a surprise appearance.

"There's actually a wall near the indoor batting cages that have some marks on it from us taking shots at it," Bay said with a chuckle.

Bruins forward Mark Recchi, a former Flyer, can't wait to check out The Monster first hand.

"I'm at least going to try to throw a few pucks over it," he said with a laugh. "I don't know (the configuration) the rink will be set up in, but I'm definitely going to go out there (near the wall) and fool around.

"It's going to be amazing. Just to go into that park to watch a game is a thrill, so to actually go in there and play in an event like (the Winter Classic) that is becoming a tradition, well, that's special."

Fenway will host yet another hockey event seven days after the Winter Classic.

On Jan. 8, Boston College and Boston University will meet for the 248th time, although never before in a venue like this. A womens' game between New Hampshire and Northeastern also will take place on that day.

The world's biggest garage door will be waiting.

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos