On the trek to Opening Day we arrived Wednesday at the 1st official game of Spring Training 2016. In all, the Red Sox will play 31 Grapefruit League games between now and the end of March.
Wednesday’s opener was a 7-4 Boston home field loss to the Minnesota Twins, who improved to 65-59-1 against the Sox since the two teams have faced off in Spring Training action beginning in 1993.
As Spring Training news goes, this year’s Sox/Twins series of eight games is a big deal. The series “rivalry,” which used to be called the Mayor’s Cup and has since been re-christened the Chairman’s Cup, stands at 11-11-1, with the Sox besting the Twinkies in seven of their past 10 spring series since 2006.
Not so meaningless
The first two unofficial games for the Red Sox of 2016 were the now traditional, seven inning affairs facing the Boston College Eagles (whom the Sox beat 6-0) and the Northeastern University Huskies (whom the Sox beat 8-3) on Leap Day (the first such Sox game since 2008).
Despite the shutout against BC, both games’ scores were respectable. That wasn’t the case in 2012 when the Sox mercilessly pummeled the Huskies 25-0. The Eagles faced a similar drubbing in 2008, falling 24-0 to Boston.
Against the Sox, the Eagles are now 0-26, the Huskies are 0-14. But as ESPN’s Thomas Neumann notes, the games are far from meaningless for the college players who participate. “It’s unreal,” Eagles pitcher Justin Dunn told Neumann, “I don’t know if words can describe it.”
Plenty of history
The opening doubleheader against the local colleges is now an eight year tradition, though the idea of a springtime collegiate bout traces its history back to 1916 when the Sox beat the Eagles 9-1 in Boston. BC didn’t get another crack at the Sox until 1933, when they lost 7-2.
Sixty years later, in 1993, the exhibition games started anew in Florida. In all, nine Eagles have gone on to play for the Red Sox, most recently Brian Looney in 1995. Former Sox manager Joe Morgan was also an Eagle.
The rivalry against Northeastern first fired up in Boston on April 11, 1977, when the Sox won 10-2. The have since matched up in Florida every year since 2004. The only Northeastern player to play for the Sox was Carlos Pena in 2006.