The final week leading up to spring training is unparalleled in terms of promise and hope. It is the time to be naive. It is the time to be optimistic. Nothing bad has happened yet. The whole season awaits. Nothing better embodies the optimism of this blank slate better than a pocket schedule.
So next time your buddy pulls out his smartphone to check what time a game starts, slap it out of his hand and tell him a real man keeps a pocket schedule in his wallet at all times.
Below, an incomplete chronology (primarily via eBay listings) of pocket schedules for Red Sox seasons over the past six decades:
Some rare pre-cursors to the pocket schedule are occasionally available for sale on e-bay and other sites. This simple green and white design features a shield design that looks a bit like the NFL’s official logo.
GO RED SOX (again). State Street Bank sponsored a number of pocket skeds issued in the ’60s and ’70s (see below). Based on this 1969 edition, “Go Red Sox” must have been a thing in 1968, too.
The 1970s featured a number of these simplistic designs. The game time designations – Twi-Night Games! – are especially interesting now. And of course, insert the standard observation that Sox tickets were a lot cheaper back during the Nixon administration (Richard, that is).
Red Sox ‘74. “We do our homework.” – State Street.
It was decided pretty early that an awesome season needed an awesome pocket schedule design. Narragansett delivered.
Also, the State Street-sponsored edition closely resembled the year before.
Fred Lynn waiting on a pitch and a fantastic old-school TV38 logo.
Also, an alternative edition from Schlitz(!): “Schlitz Brings You the Red Sox ‘77” – The Sox and Schlitz beer: The Perfect Refreshment Team.
An action shot of All-Star shortstop Rick Burleson turning a double play in the shadow of the left-field wall. Labatt’s takes the baton from ‘Gansett and Schlitz.
Dennis Eckersley throws a pitch and, as was often the case back then, Budweiser was involved.
Sox Magic 1980 “Yaz Hits 3000th” Images of Fisk’s homer in Game 6 and Ted Williams bookend Carl Yastrzemski getting hit No. 3,000.
No big surprises here. It’s Yaz.
On a team that had Dwight Evans, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski, light-hitting 2B Jerry Remy somehow got the nod.
“The Excitement Builds” – Unassuming but effective. The 1980s were a simpler time.
“Catch Fenway Fever” – Wade Boggs makes the first of several appearances over the next decade.
“Get Out to the Ballpark – Catch Fenway Fever” – This time, Jim Rice is the one doling out the fever. And injecting The Fear into the eyes of opposing pitchers.
“A Boston Tradition” – Wade Boggs taught us how much better a ballplayer’s patience at the plate can be when he has sex constantly. Unchecked aggression of any kind probably makes laying off of a diving curveball in the dirt a hell of a lot more difficult. Maybe Boggs chose the wrong course in getting all blubbery and apologetic on national TV about being a sexual deviant.
A classy nod to the ‘86 AL champions and to Fenway Park’s 75th year.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to understand what’s happening in this rogue pocket schedule released by Suncook Bank. For one thing, the “players” look to be frolicking in wintry snow rather than playing in a baseball game. The guy in the middle only has one leg. All three guys are clearly wasted. The whole thing could just be a visual manifestation of an Oil Can Boyd cocaine-fueled meltdown…If the stuff were laced with LSD.
“The Fun Has Just Begun!” – The team’s younger talent crop is showcased. Left to right: John Marzano, Mike Greenwell, Todd Benzinger, Ellis Burks and Sam Horn. Greenwell and Burks combined for over 14 WAR that season.
“Catch the Thrills” with Lee Smith.
“Swing into the ‘90s” with Dwight Evans. A Sox mainstay for a decade and a half, Dewey never got any pocket sked play until he was past his prime. We would love to see this specifically cited in some hack writer’s “Why I Voted/Didn’t Vote for This Guy for the Hall of Fame” column.
“Fenway Fun in ‘91” focused on marketing to a crowd mentality. This a reminder that there was a point in time that The Wave wasn’t completely obnoxious.
“Red Hot Red Sox”: Jeff Reardon, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens just chilling in the dugout. Clemens’ clean-shaven face makes him look prepubescent next to Reardon’s beard and Boggs’ ‘stache.
An artist’s rendering of a crowded Yawkey Way on game day includes a speech bubble of one fan’s declaration that “Red Sox baseball is the best bargain in sports.”
With the players’ strike looming, Roger Clemens headlines a very simplistic, cost-efficient design. It seems appropriately incomplete.
Jose Canseco is here! We got Jose!
NESN came out with another:
That NESN spot proved prophetic and the ‘96 campaign was built around the fact that 1995 AL MVP Mo Vaughn was still around. Powerade sports drink took the backside ad space. But even with Vaughn and Jose in the lineup (and both actually better statistically than in ’95), the results of the ’96 season weren’t quite as syrupy sweet as the electrolytes within the
now defunct Coca Cola-produced sports drink.
Mo Vaughn doing his thing along with Tim Naehring, who saw injuries derail his career (’97 was his last season in the majors).
With Mo headed to Anaheim and the Pedro Paradigm still in its infancy, Nomar takes the reins after winning AL Rookie of the Year in ‘97.
The All-Star Game marketing was in full swing even in the winter of ’99.
Pedro, at his apex. By this point, every fan simply took Opening Day and then counted ahead four games, circled; counted another four games, circled; counted four games, circled; counted four games…
100 Seasons, 1901-2001. This edition is appropriately creepy, managing to fit in Babe Ruth staring menacingly at the team logo. By this point, controlled by a corrupt, lame duck ownership group led by John Harrington, the team seemed to strangely embrace the idea that it was haunted by its past – even if it were on a subconscious level. If Dan Shaughnessy somehow became a Photoshop wizard, this is probably pretty close to what he would have come up with.
“A New England Tradition.”
“Paint the Town RED!” – Pedro Martinez.
An alternative release featured Nomar Garciaparra.
There were multiple versions released prior to 2004, including skeds featuring Nomar, Jason Varitek and even Bill Mueller, who tied Manny Ramirez for the 2003 batting crown.
The World Series trophy.
Another year of multiple editions, which included Coco Crisp, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon high-fiving fans and even one with Wally the Green Monster.
The 40th Anniversary of the ‘67 Dream Team. Plus, Daisuke Matsuzaka comes to town. Hood sponsors at least five different editions, including multiple Dice-K releases, one featuring him playing catch with Hideki Okajima.
The Sox celebrating their 2007 World Series win on Coors Field.
“Here Are 162 Reasons to Circle the Calendar.” Other editions say things like “Here. Your Calendar Just Filled Up.” Maybe everything seems cooler with the benefit of a more distanced perspective, but these are the kinds of bad one-liners that get Peggy Olson kicked out of Don Draper’s office.
“162 Save-the-Dates” with Dustin Pedroia. Is anybody starting to notice a pattern here?
Second Edition: “162 Reasons to Have A Pocket” – Jon Lester
Third Edition: “We Won’t Rest Until Order Has Been Restored” Clockwise: Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.
“Fenway Park 100 Years” – Plus, another round of pocket schedules reminding fans of the length of the baseball season – i.e. “162 Ways to Celebrate.”
But this 2nd edition and its “Best Six Months of the Year” tagline is our favorite. Oh, the irony.
“162 Chances to Restore the Faith.”