Hauling America’s Pastime
Truck drivers represent MLB teams by transporting equipment to spring training destinations.
Jeff Failla won’t play a single game for the Los Angeles Angels this season. However, the longtime truck driver and baseball fan has filled a critical role for the organization the past several years. Failla, as well as numerous other truck drivers across the nation, were tasked with hauling the equipment of Major League Baseball teams from the team headquarters to their spring training destinations in Arizona or Florida.
“I have been an Angels fan for over 20 years, and have worked for Old Dominion Freight Line for 23 years now,” said Failla, who works for Old Dominion out of Anaheim, Calif. “This is my fifth year moving the Angels’ equipment to spring training with Old Dominion, and I loved every minute of representing my company while showing my favorite team the premium service that we offer. The 366 miles to Tempe, Ariz., were the highlight of my year.”
Each January and February, “Moving Day” signals the return of America’s pastime. Before the trucks hit the road, many teams host special sendoff events with fans, players, coaches, mascots and former players to celebrate the unofficial start to the baseball season.
Hundreds of Angels fans flocked to Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Jan. 26 to participate in games and other activities and to receive autographs from such players as Noe Ramirez, Keynan Middleton and David Fletcher before watching Failla depart east for Tempe.
Old Dominion, a motor carrier headquartered in Thomasville, N.C., also partners with the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies for their spring training sendoffs.
The White Sox held their Moving Day in conjunction with the team’s annual SoxFest for fans from Jan. 25-27 at the Hilton Chicago before the truck left on a 1,700-mile journey to Glendale, Ariz.
Two trailers full of players’ equipment and exercise equipment left Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Jan. 31 and headed 1,200 miles to Surprise, Ariz.
Mr. and Mrs. Met, and the Phillie Phanatic got involved in celebrations in New York and Philadelphia, respectively.
On Feb. 4 at the Mets’ Citi Field, fans got to mingle with the mascots, pitch in the bullpen, receive a behind-the-scenes tour and meet former Mets All-Star and 1969 World Series champion Ed Kranepool, before Old Dominion moved the team’s equipment more than 1,100 miles to Port St. Lucie, Fla.
A few days later in Philadelphia, Old Dominion loaded about 2,400 baseballs, 2,000 shirts, 1,200 bats and an assortment of other equipment onto two trailers. To add to the festivities, the Phillie Phanatic and dozens of fans greeted the truck as it left Citizens Bank Park and headed about a 1,000 miles to Clearwater, Fla.
Thanks to truckers like Failla, the equipment made it to the respective spring training destinations on time, and exhibition games began in late February. The leaguewide opening day for the MLB regular season was March 28. LL