It is simply the best pre-game tradition at Fenway Park.
Amid a series of quick-hitting public address announcements longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list, the speakers on Yawkey Way suddenly break into song to recognize “Leaders of the Pack,” those ordinary citizens who have managed the extraordinary feat of guiding 100 or more of their colleagues, friends, or enemies into America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.
The jingle, easily unearthed with a bit of YouTube sleuthing, originated with The Shangri-Las, who have been described by history-of-rock.com as “the most broadly appealing of all the ‘60s girl groups.” The corresponding video for the song “Leader of the Pack” looks like a scene from the Three Stooges—one would be forgiven for expecting Moe, Larry, Curly, or Shemp to suddenly appear on screen riding a motorcycle of their own.
It’s a surprise these pack chiefs can survive the temptations of Lansdowne Street to make it into the park by the time the music sounds—it would be natural to suspect one of their 100-plus cohorts might be distracted by the smell of sausage, a $10 Red Sox poncho, or the trendy band playing at the House of Blues.
But on our hands, a story of perseverance. Emerson freshman Jack Aylmer, in line to play defense for the men’s lacrosse team this spring, survived and, one could objectively say, thrived in the role earlier this month. Ahead of the first game of the Sox’ home stand against the Orioles on Sept. 12, Aylmer was recognized on the center field video board for his efforts.
The journalism major’s dorm room became indistinguishable from Fenway’s box office, he said, as droves of eager freshmen flooded in to secure their game tickets the weekend prior to the ballgame.
And worthy tickets they were. The Red Sox went on to win the game 12-2, thanks largely to old friend Wade Miley, who surrendered six runs on eight hits in just 1.1 innings. Adding icing to the cake, the contest, like 18 other Fenway dates this season, featured a home run from celebrated outgoing slugger David Ortiz.
The Beacon caught up with Aylmer last week to ask him about all things “Leader of the Pack.”
Berkeley Beacon: How did the universe align for you to become a leader of the pack?
Jack Aylmer: I was talking on the Facebook groups over the summer with some other Emerson freshmen, and I said, ‘Hey, it would be kind of cool if we all went to a Red Sox game.’ Then I posted it in the Facebook group and made another separate page for that, and what I thought was going to be like 20 or so people turned out to be 115. We still had people in September who were asking if I had any extra tickets. We bought out a whole rectangle basically, in center field at Fenway.
BB: Can you talk a little bit about how you came up with the idea to get people together to go to a game? I know you mentioned you’re a Massachusetts native, so was that your impetus?
JA: I think living in Boston, going to a Fenway game is something you absolutely have to do. I was looking at our orientation schedule, and we have kind of a week and a half really where we’re just sort of in Boston, so I thought if we could get a game in that time or a little bit later, it would be a really cool thing for everybody to do. I love Fenway Park. I love the foghorn going off after a run scored, and thankfully there were a lot of runs scored in that game.
BB: You can now say you were a “Leader of the Pack” in a home game in David Ortiz’s last season—does that make it a little bit cooler experience?
JA: The home run Big Papi hit, we were up in centerfield, and it went right over into the bullpen area, so it was sort of right in front of us. Just watching it travel, and then go down, it was just awesome. Everybody freaked out.
BB: Were you familiar with the “Leader of the Pack” from being at previous games at Fenway? Did you remember the jingle in the pregame?
JA: When they invited me onto the field, it was a surprise to me—I didn’t remember that at all. It was a really cool experience—kind of goofy, but fun.
BB: Was there any aspect that you found to be ‘goofy’ in addition to the jingle?
JA: I think being on the big screen standing next to Wally the Green Monster waving at people with him … a little funny, but definitely fun.
BB: So you got to meet Wally then…
JA: I did. I gave Wally a hug and a high five, and my inner child was very happy with that experience.
BB: Given the opportunity, would you consider leading a pack again?
JA: Absolutely. It was frustrating at times, but once we got everybody there—just being with the whole class out in the stands, rocking out to the foghorn… it was such an exciting game, and such a fun experience.