While Thursday’s exhibition game between the Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox was held at Bank One Ballpark, the scene outside and inside the stadium was more reminiscent of ones that play out at Fenway Park in Boston.
On one street corner was a vender yelling, "Yankees hater shirts, get your Yankees hater shirts," while on the pavilion prior to the game was a swarm of fans decked out in Red Sox’s red and blue.
After the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years last season, this may become commonplace at every ballpark the team visits this season.
Among those standing outside the turnstiles waiting for the gates to open was Josh Crothers, 29, of Tucson, dressed in a Red Sox jersey and beat-up Boston cap.
"I think every Red Sox fan in the Southwest is going to be here," said Crothers, a Rhode Island native, who moved to Arizona in January.
That may have been so, but Red Sox Nation was also well represented by fans from across North America.
There was Ruben Lipszyc, 37, of Calgary, who brought his son Nelson, 9, to the game.
"We’re on vacation," said Lipszyc, who has followed the team since he was 8. "We went to L.A. to go to Disneyland, and we came to Phoenix for just today and tomorrow to watch the Red Sox."
Also in town was Karen Cornelius and Carl Schecter of New York City and their daughters Kate, 14, and Anna, 13, who have followed the team for the past six years.
"Their grandfather has been a Red Sox fan since the 1930s," said Schecter, who prefers the New York Yankees. "So they know what it means to be patient on the long term. They only had to wait half their life" to see the Red Sox win it all.
Others like Dan Sugrue, a Boston native who moved to Surprise in October, said he couldn’t believe it when his team finally broke its curse.
"It’s something I’ve been waiting all my life for," said Sugrue, 69. " . . . I thought I would die without ever seeing them win the World Series."
Ron McKinnon, 55, a native of Chicopee, Mass., who now resides in Flagstaff, said the Red Sox’s championship completed his life, which has since become a dream come true.
"I can die now, I’m happy they won the World Series," said McKinnon, who attended the game with his son Tim, 36, also of Flagstaff. "Everything else now is gravy.
"I still say this to my wife. She’ll wake up in the middle of the night, and I’ll say, ‘Hon, the Red Sox won the World Series. We’re not dreaming.’ That’s a joke in our house. I just keep saying that."
The Red Sox’s title is also special to the McKinnons for another reason.
"My grandfather was born Sept. 11, 1918, which is the same day they won their last World Series," said Tim.
His grandfather, who took him to his first game when he was 4, never got to see Boston win a title — he passed away in 1994. But Tim doesn’t believe it will take the Red Sox another lifetime to be crowned again.
"I think they’re one of the best teams," he said. " . . . They’re going to be a dynasty just like the Patriots. It’s all about New England. It’s our time to shine right now.’
While the Red Sox didn’t bring many of the stars that helped them shine last season — Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek were among the those who didn’t make the trip — that couldn’t dampen the spirits of even their newest fans.
"I’m excited," said Conor Foley, 9, of Yuma, who attended his first Boston game in a full Red Sox uniform with "Ramirez" and "24" on the back. "My parents have been Red Sox fans for a long time. They’re going to win it again."
Conor was at the game with his father Kevin, 51, a native of Lynn, Mass., and their friend Mark Aulson, 50, a native of Salem, Mass., who moved to Mesa in 1974.
For Aulson last season was a near-religious experience, particularly when the Red Sox rallied from being down 0-3 to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
"Ding dong the witch is dead," he said with a laugh of Boston’s biggest rival.
Then he added, "Next to receiving Jesus Christ as my savior in 1974, that was one of my happiest moments."