BOSTON — Sam Fuld had made the trip from his native New Hampshire probably 50 times growing up to watch the Red Sox from the Fenway Park stands. He'd been down on the field twice, once as a kid batboy for a college game then for a predraft workout as a high school senior.
But Monday night, Fuld got to play at Fenway for the first time. And with his parents and 30 friends and relatives watching, he put on quite a show: A home run, a triple, two doubles plus another diving catch, sparking an offensive explosion from the previously anemic Rays in a 16-5 victory over the Red Sox and former teammates Carl Crawford and Dan Wheeler.
"Just thinking about all those family and friends up there," Fuld said, "it was hard to take that smile off my face the whole night."
Standing in the concourse after the game, his father, Kenneth, had the same look. "It was very special," said the elder Fuld, a dean at the University of New Hampshire. "I'm so happy for him. It was really a special thing for him to be here, and to play well in his debut."
Fuld wasn't the whole story, as the Rays — improving to 2-8 — rang up the fourth-highest run total in team history (and four fewer than they scored in their first nine games total) and rapped 20 hits for just the seventh time in team history, and raised their team average from .163 to .201.
"Kinda nice to see," manager Joe Maddon said.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched into the sixth for the win, Reid Brignac and John Jaso knocked in three runs apiece and Johnny Damon, with some applause mixed in with the usual boos, had a three-hit night, starting when he knocked the first pitch he saw into the rightfield bullpen — then got "booed" by the Rays when he returned to the dugout.
"It was great coming back in here on a different team then the Yankees," Damon said. "It was a little more mixed tonight. I was very happy to hear some of the cheers I did get."
Fuld, acquired from the Cubs, played leftfield and enjoyed the whole experience.
"I had a little more adrenaline just playing in the park I grew up going to, and I was able to channel that in a positive way," he said. "I wasn't sure how that was going to play out, I thought I might have too many jitters going."
He tucked a homer (the second of his career) around the Pesky Pole down the rightfield line ("After the homer I thought wow, everything else is icing on the cake."), hustled from the box to turn a fourth-inning hit into a double then tripled to right-center.
At that point all he needed was a single to join B.J. Upton (2009) as the only players in Rays history to hit for the cycle, but it was one thing Fuld couldn't quite do.
He flied to left in the seventh, then got another chance in the ninth. He lined a ball to left but passed on the chance to stop at first and headed to second.
"You can't do that," Fuld said. "And I don't get too many extra-base hits, so I'm going to take them when I can. It was a sure double, so there was no choice but to get your double there."
Maddon said it was a sign of Fuld's integrity. "I know a lot of guys who would have stopped," Maddon said. "It just indicates what he's all about right there."
Cycle aside, Fuld acknowledged it would be hard to top his first game at home.
"I set the standard pretty high," he said. "I don't know if I'll ever have a game like that ever again."
Actually, his mother, New Hampshire state senator Amanda Merrill said, there was something else.
"Well," she said, "he didn't steal a base tonight."