Boston is two inches away from setting a local record for the most amount of snow in a single winter. But even with more of the white curse predicted for this weekend, thoughts in the Northeast are slowly turning towards spring. And for Boston, that means one thing: getting Fenway Park ready for opening day.
Of course, there’s the not-so-small matter of the massive amounts of snow currently on the field. Instead of hauling snowplows onto the hallowed ground beneath the Green Monster, the incredible groundskeeping team of the Boston Red Sox is shoveling over two tons of black sand onto the field.
So far, the sand has melted about 30 inches of the snow, estimates David R. Mellor, a groundskeeper with the organization who posted pictures of the process to Instagram. The sand’s dark color traps heat from the sun, melting the surrounding snow, even on days when the temperature lingers around freezing.
The sand also gets an assist from the unique layout of the ballpark. As Mellor explained on Instagram, most ballparks just have two micro-climates on the field: the sunny part and the part shaded by the stadium’s upper deck. But Boston has a third, the area near left field and center field under the 37-foot and 2-inch tall wall of the Green Monster. The Monster in this case is a heat magnet, warmed by the sun, and is busy melting much of the snow near the left field/center field warning track.
So how do they clean up two tons of black sand from the field when they’re done? “We have evergreen turf growth blankets on the grass under the snow so we will back pack blow the black sand on the covers into piles and clean up the sand. If the covers weren’t under the snow we would let the sand go into the grass and rake or back pack blow any sand laying on top of the grass into the grass and it would be fine” Mellor answered on Instagram.