From Spaceman, to Oil Can, to Papi Cann
Weed and America’s pastime, they go together like … well … weed and just about anything else that’s fun to watch or play. Movies, golf, whatever entertains you.
As for Red Sox baseball and bowl-smoking in the Bay State, we’re not going to exaggerate—other than the fact that most of the jocks who have been through that locker room since the 1960s likely indulged, there aren’t many intersections. But there are some noteworthy standouts …
Finally, while we compiled this list as a fun post for Sox fans who puff to pass around the social horn on opening day, it would be negligent to wax romantically about the history of red and green without emphasizing the regrettable trend of brown and Black players to suffer worse consequences than their white teammates for using drugs that everyone knows players of all colors and creeds smoked together—and that are perfectly legal today.
You absolutely cannot mention cannabis and baseball in the same smoky breath without propping former Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee, a home team hall of famer who pitched 119 winning games for Boston but was as famous in the for his left-handed cigarettes as he was for his southpaw slowballs. From running for public office as an anti-prohibition candidate, to publishing best-selling humor books and tell-alls, to shocking talk show hosts and audiences with bold informed liberal opinions, there’s no overstating Lee’s contribution to the crossover between sports, popular culture, and cannabis.
We’re not saying that legendary slugger Big Papi retired in 2016 as a result of cannabis getting legalized in the Bay State that year, but we do know that he’s spent a good amount of time and energy in the years since establishing one of the biggest celebrity brands on the market. His Sweet Sluggers blunts manufactured by Rev Brands are probably popular because of Ortiz’s endorsement, but they are premium sticks nevertheless. His Papi Cannabis brand just moved into the Maine market too, and while the Hall of Famer’s popularity may not carry too far beyond Red Sox Nation, you can count on him continuing to score with fans in New England for as long as he keeps swinging.
As writer Ray Birch wrote of Foy for the Society for American Baseball Research, despite being known for his drug and alcohol issues including a drunk-driving crash and for having the most errors in the majors in 1968, the third baseman “showed flashes of brilliance in the minors and during the 1967 pennant-winning season” and was “associated in a special way with the miracle 1967 Boston Red Sox World Series team, a team that revitalized baseball in Boston.” A close friend of Carl Yastrzemski, Foy suffered for his drug and alcohol abuse, though he did reportedly clean up his act before dying from a heart attack at 46. Cannabis, it seems, was the least of his problems; on one occasion, when he was asked about his weed use, Foy told a journalist, “How many young people … do you know who haven’t smoked grass?”
The off-field antics and adventures of any of the players on this list could hold a compelling book, but especially those of Roger Moret, a 6’4″ pitcher from Puerto Rico who sometimes stunned and at other times disappointed during his stint with the Sox from 1970 to ’75. A close friend of Lee’s whose career eventually spun out due to mental illness, in the decades since he left the majors it has been said he was traded away from the Sox in part due to his use of drugs, including cannabis that he was likely using to self medicate. In 1985, Moret was arrested in Puerto Rico for marijuana possession and sentenced to jail time. He reunited with former Sox teammates at alumni events a few years prior to his passing in 2020, and one can only imagine that some spliffs were passed around the dugout.
As Stan Grossfeld wrote for Boston.com in 2010, “Bernie Carbo launched the greatest pinch-hit home run in Red Sox history”—a three-run blast into the bleachers that set up Carlton Fisk’s famous 12th-inning walkoff homer in the 1975 World Series—and he admitted to being “high on drugs” when he did it: “I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit,’’ Carbo told Grossfeld years after the fact. The outfielder found god after his baseball career ended, but in speaking candidly about the culture of coerced drug abuse in the pros, he’s taken aim at steroids, not cannabinoids.
Though Dennis Ray Boyd is better known for his in-season crack abuse and binge-drinking than for lighter herbal fare, you can’t stumble through Red Sox pot and party history without tripping over an Oil Can Boyd story or two. His MLB days were pure madness, but in his 2012 autobiography, They Call Me Oil Can: Baseball, Drugs, and Life on the Edge, he clarifies that while he was high on weed for every game from “Little League all the way through college,” by 1986 with the Sox, Boyd had graduated to smoking crack every day of the season.
Though we have to give some credit to MedMen for being located close enough to Fenway to service throngs of fans ahead of games and for having company colors that match Sox gear, the soon-to-open New Dia dispensary on Lansdowne Street is in particularly prime position to become the cannabis equivalent for stoners looking to pregame of what the new store’s neighbors at the Cask ‘n Flagon are for drinkers looking to black out before the first inning. They also threw a party inside of Fenway Park during the most recent New England Cannabis Convention, giving many the opportunity to cross smoking one in the stands while there isn’t some pop music loser playing down on the field off their bucket list.
Weed & Worcester
You may think that we’re stretching it with this one, but Worcester’s revitalization over the past couple of years has come on the back of an abundance of bud biz and baseball happenings alike. There’s no reason to think Woo Sox fans and weed aficionados play for separate teams; as anyone who has been to the Summit Lounge before or after a game knows, there is plenty of overlap. With all of the dispensaries in the area, there’s even a fertile mound for some kind of industry softball league. Needless to say, we’ll field a team.
It’s a given that weed has been smoked at every concert ever held at Fenway Park (and probably every other open-air stadium in America). At the same time, it’s cliche to point out the links between drugs and the Grateful Dead (unless you’re schooling people on the history of Western Mass native Greg “Chemdog” Krzanowski and the father of kind bud’s links to the band). Nevertheless, should the topics of baseball and cannabis cross, as is the point of this piece, one feels obliged to recognize past Grateful Dead Nights, some of which have featured special theme tickets including a limited edition Sox-styled Dancing Bears figurine. This year’s Jerry Day will take place on Aug. 9, the anniversary of the Grateful Dead guitarist’s passing. Some lucky fans who buy tickets through a “special offer” will receive a “limited edition tie dye Red Sox jersey with ‘Garcia’ on the back and a Jerry Garcia hand logo on the sleeve while a “pregame concert featuring Jerry and Dead tunes will take place on Jersey Street before the Red Sox take on the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.” Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Rex Foundation.
Wally the Green Monster
Do we really have to say much more? He is the green monster after all, and with that goofy grin and flat brim it is pretty clear what he is hitting between innings.
That time in 1997 when MassCann held a benefit at the Baseball Tavern.