If the 2020 season ever gets played, it will be my 25th covering baseball.
A quarter century is a long time, but I can still vividly remember the first time I entered the clubhouse as a 23-year-old in 1996: Jose Canseco double-fisting Big Macs, a twilight-of-his-career Roger Clemens organizing a jersey signing for retiring Bruins star Cam Neely, and clueless, ponytailed me trying not to gape at childhood hero Jim Rice, then the team's hitting coach.
A lot has happened since.
Pedro Martinez arrived in 1998 and became the first athlete to curse me out when I suggested that he had twice hit Minnesota's Marty Cordova in a late spring training start "to send a message to the rest of the American League," which was clearly an example of a young writer trying too hard while also being too dumb to recognize Martinez's sensitivity over being labeled a head hunter.
In any event, the ensuing seasons have provided no shortage of entertainment and drama, from the Pedro years to Aaron Bleeping Boone to the Idiots to the dominant 2007 squad to Boston Strong, 118 wins, and lots in between.
And it's the in between part that interests me today. While superstars like Mo Vaughn, Clemens, Martinez, and Manny Ramirez were a sight to behold purely for reasons of dominance, it's possible to find the joy in lesser lights, as well as moments that aren't necessarily about the game, per se.
Boston Red Sox
So here, then, is the first half of my personal All-Entertaining team for the last 25 years, comprising the lineup and bench. Tomorrow we'll do the pitchers. Not every guy was a superstar, but that's OK, because there's a reason we still remember Jimmy Piersall, Butch Hobson, and Marty Barrett, and we're unlikely to forget Brock Holt.