Mike Napoli: Built for Fenway and its Faithful

Mike Napoli is mobbed by his teammates
after hitting a walk-off double on Patriots' Day.
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

When Mike Napoli signed this offseason with the Boston Red Sox, there was a sense of optimism growing in Red Sox Nation. The big bat that was needed to protect David Ortiz was signed. The Red Sox were going to shore up a position (first base) that was left to fill after the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers last August.

But most importantly, GM Ben Cherington did his part to fill a need elsewhere: The clubhouse.

Napoli was brought in, along with the signings of Shane Victorino, David Ross, Ryan Dempster and Jonny Gomes, to change the proverbial clubhouse culture. Cherington and the Red Sox Brass wanted fun, outgoing guys who had a reputation of being some of the best clubhouse guys in baseball. They wanted guys who were going to help rebuild the team’s chemistry, which was damaged in previous seasons.

It’s safe to say the clubhouse culture is much improved. This “whole new team” we keep hearing about continues to show that it really is a new team, tying a club record with 18 wins in April and with the best record (18-7) in MLB.

And Napoli, in particular, has won his way into the hearts of Bostonians not only with his power at the plate (4 HRs, 13 2Bs, 27 RBIs, .883 OPS), but with his voice and presence in Red Sox garb.

Napoli has been very outspoken about his love for this team, the City of Boston, the fans and what the Red Sox are trying to do this season. You can see his passion when he plays the game. And when Boston has needed this team most, Napoli stepped to the plate.

On Patriots’ Day, Napoli hit a walk-off double in the 9th to score Dustin Pedroia, giving the Sox a 3-2 win. Less than an hour later, the unexplainable happened and Napoli’s thrilling moment turned somber.

In a recent blog on SportsReelBoston.com, Napoli wrote:

It didn’t take me very long to realize how tough the city of Boston is. I am already in love with this place and the people here. Growing up in Florida, we didn’t really have these types of sports fans or these kinds of people who constantly express how much they love their city. It’s awesome. I love it. I love this city. And I’ve never been more proud to wear this Boston uniform. Unfortunately, I wish the circumstances were different.

Once again, Napoli came to bat, this time uplifting the fans with his words.

It has been just short of three months since Napoli donned the Boston uniform for the first time in Spring Training, but he’s already made an impact in nearly every way possible.

His swing was built for Fenway Park. His character was built for the Fenway Faithful. It’s a match perfectly made for each other and neither side would have it any other way.

Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
Leave comments below or give Ben a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead