FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was not a question Terry Francona was expecting Saturday afternoon.
Did the Boston Red Sox manager have a rule against a player coming out of a game and going to the concession stand to buy hot dogs?
“No,’’ he answered cautiously. “Not if he shares.’’
Well, then, did Dustin Pedroia offer him a hot dog?
Francona turned to team publicist Pam Ganley.
“What did that little rat do?’’ he asked her.
What Pedroia did, after coming out in the top of the sixth inning against the Florida Marlins, was to emerge from the back entrance of the Sox clubhouse -- the doors open into the main concourse -- stroll across to the nearest concession stand, and buy three hot dogs. Reporters headed to the clubhouse to interview pitcher Jonathan Papelbon nearly bumped into him as he was carrying his snack back.
“I was starving,’’ he said.
Did he pay?
“[Expletive] right I did,’’ he said.
Did he get change? “Yeah,’’ he said. “I gave her a hundred-dollar bill.’’
The most surprising aspect of the transaction? No one even noticed who he was.
“They probably didn’t know he was a player,’’ Francona said with a scoff. “Did you see the outfit he had on? He looked like he was going into the second grade. I got to go out and do a [photo shoot] with him. I’m embarrassed for him.’’
Pedroia had changed into street clothes, an ensemble that included a rust-brown T-shirt, when he made his food run. When the vendors at the concession stand were asked which of them had waited on Pedroia, the question elicited blank looks and shrugs. Only when the C-note was mentioned did one teen-aged girl respond.
“A guy bought three hot dogs and asked if I had change for a hundred,’’ said Courtney Hetzel, who attends Fort Myers High. "I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I gave him the change and he walked away.’’
No, she confessed, she had no clue as to the identity of the customer.
Neither did anybody else, evidently, until Pedroia returned to the clubhouse and pounded on the doors, which were locked.
Marc Poyant, a Boston College grad who had driven across the state from Jupiter, where he lives now, to watch the game, was wearing a Pedroia uniform jersey and standing near the concession stand after the game. He had received it as a gift for being a groomsman in a wedding.
He listened with amusement to the story of Pedroia's food run. Would he have recognized Pedroia out of uniform?
“In a heartbeat,’’ Poyant said. “But I’m not the norm.’’