BOSTON — Mike Hanigan of Andover pointed toward the seats down the third base line at Fenway Park where he brought his son Ryan as a little boy to watch then-Red Sox ace Roger Clemens.
“We watched Roger Clemens pitch a shutout,” Mike said. “We were sitting way up there where you freeze to death but they were good seats.”
Hanigan, his wife Helen and longtime Andover Legion coach Joe Iarrobino were bundled up in warm clothing last night — although still probably freezing to death — in Grandstand section 20, row 5, seats 17, 18 and 19 to watch as Ryan played on that same field as Clemens and his other boyhood Red Sox idols once did.
Ryan Hanigan, an Andover High graduate and now the Tampa Bay Rays catcher, is in his eighth major league season, but didn’t play in his first big league game at Fenway Park until last night.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Helen said before the game. “He sat with us in these stands ever since he was a little kid. So it’s going to be really exciting to see him on the field. I would say next to Opening Day in Cincinnati when he started, this is really No. 2.”
The reason Ryan never played here before last night is because he spent his first seven seasons playing in the National League for the Cincinnati Reds, which never played an interleague series here during that time. Hanigan was traded to the American League East Tampa Bay Rays this past offseason and signed a three-year, $10.75 million contract.
More than 100 family, friends and Andover community members sat out in the right field stands last night as Hanigan started behind the plate and hit ninth in the Tampa Bay batting order.
“I grew up a huge Red Sox fan so this is the cathedral,” Hanigan said about Fenway Park.