At Fenway, another famous wall is the picture of success
BOSTON — Alex Cora had an idea before his rookie season as a big league manager: to hang a picture in his clubhouse office from each Red Sox victory. Team photographer Billie Weiss eyeballed the wall behind a couch and figured there would be room for about 100.
“We figured we’ll start with that and then go from there,” Weiss said this week, taking a break from shooting the team’s pre-World Series workout to explain how the project, like the Red Sox season, has expanded beyond anyone’s expectations.
The original array, with 11 columns of nine 8-by-12-inch photos each, filled up in early September. More photos went up behind the TV as the Red Sox cruised to an AL East title and a franchise-record 108 victories. Next to Cora’s desk were seven more photos from the AL playoffs, including a matched pair of the team posing on the field after series-clinching victories in New York and Houston.
They should’ve picked a bigger space.
Like maybe Fenway Park’s 37-foot-high Green Monster.
“Not enough wall space for all these wins,” Weiss said. “That’s a good problem to have.”
What started as a way for Cora to commemorate the biggest moments of the season has spilled out onto two side walls as the Red Sox just kept winning. A replica was added to the first-base concourse after the season, updated with each playoff victory, and it has become a popular background for selfies.
Each had 115 pictures before the Series opener, one for every regular and postseason win, from a shot of David Price pitching in the March 30 victory at Tampa Bay to Game 5 of the AL Championship Series in Houston.
“We do have room for four” more, Cora said on Monday.
Make that three.
Another was going up on Wednesday, the day after Boston’s 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series.
“That wall, you start looking around, it’s like, ‘Wow, that game and that game and that game,'” Cora said. “It’s powerful, to say the least.”
The first-year manager said that after the season he plans to have the prints auctioned off for The Jimmy Fund, the team’s longtime charity. A book might also be in the works.
“I have other ideas,” he said Monday. “But we’ll get to that hopefully when we win four games.”
Cora doesn’t pick the pictures — though several of the players thought he did. Instead, Weiss chooses one that seems to capture the big moment of the victory; he prints it, and clubhouse manager Tommy McLaughlin sticks it on the wall.
“There’s been a couple of times where I’ve asked Alex, I gave him a couple of options, asked him what he thought,” Weiss said. “Usually it’s pretty clear who the best player was, or what the moment of the game was.”
Often, that means a player being splashed with water during the postgame TV interview, or teammates bashing forearms. There are more than a few of batters circling the bases, arms raised, or in the middle of their home run swing. Pitchers are raring back to deliver, or celebrating a strikeout.
One photo is mostly a blur, but it tells a story, too: Champagne smeared the camera lens after the Red Sox secured the AL East title at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 20. The picture from the team’s franchise record-breaking victory shows the scoreboard boasting “106 Wins.”
“Obviously, we want to be on that wall,” first baseman Steve Pearce said. “If you’re on that wall, you did something good the night before.”
Stars like Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, David Price — they all make regular appearances on the wall. But platoon infielder Eduardo Nunez is there, too, gesturing to the crowd as he crosses the plate.
Hanley Ramirez has his own little corner, with three pictures during the ballclub’s 17-1 run in April, a month before he was released. Dustin Pedroia managed to make it on the wall in one of the three games he played before shutting it down with a knee injury.
And don’t think he doesn’t know it.
“Every time I go in there and talk to him, I look at the wall,” Pedroia said.
Pitcher Rick Porcello said he didn’t even know if he was pictured.
“Every time I get called into his office, I feel like I’m getting called into the principal’s office. So I just stare at the floor,” he joked before turning serious to praise his new manager.
“It speaks to his instincts of what he thought he had in that clubhouse,” Porcello said. “He definitely felt early on he had something special with us. Now he’s got it all on the wall.”
Weiss said he tries to make sure the pictures aren’t too repetitive; after all, how many different ways can a player pump his fist? He looks for chances to recognize lesser names, too.
“We spread the wealth around. Alex is also pretty conscious of that, too,” Weiss said. “I think now everyone or almost everyone on the roster is up there.”
And anyone who isn’t — yet — shouldn’t bother lobbying the photographer for a spot on the wall of fame.
“A couple of them have asked me, ‘Hey, when are you going to put me up on that wall?'” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Hey, man, that’s up to you.”