In 2002, seven teams played in the first tournament, raising $4,000. Since then, the three-day event has steadily grown _ in participants, money raised for Roy’s foundation and stature. In addition to the $500 entry fee for teams, the players compete with one another to raise money that they then bring to the tournament.
There’s a 20-20 club _ for anyone who raises 20 pledges of $20 or more _ and a 30-30 club, the members of which are announced in a ceremony on the field each year. Former Red Sox players have found their way there to play, including Bernie Carbo and Bill “Spaceman” Lee.
There’s a waiting list for teams to play.
Demand was so great that O'Connor went a step further in 2007, building “Little Wrigley” _ a replica of Chicago’s Wrigley Field _ behind Little Fenway. It has a field and bases, an ivy-adorned faux brick wall, flagpole pennants bearing the names of famous Cubs and a clock that’s set to one hour behind the one at Little Fenway _ an accommodation for central time, of course.
The two parks swarm with players for one weekend a year, with games running all day and into the night, illuminated by portable lights brought in for the occasion.
“Playing there is the highlight of everybody’s summer,” said Mario Fontana, 27, of Allston, Mass., who hit a walk-off home run in the championship game of the inaugural Travis Roy Foundation Tournament and hasn’t missed once since.
“It’s amazing. When you first play at Little Fenway, you aren’t prepared for the experience, even if you’ve seen it from afar. It’s constant giddiness. You keep giggling about how fun it is. You can’t believe you’re getting to do it.”
To date, the tournaments have raised $715,000 for the Travis Roy Foundation, and thousands more has been raised with tournaments benefiting other charities.
On Friday, 25 teams will converge on O'Connor’s backyard for the ninth annual Travis Roy Foundation Tournament.
The 35-year-old Roy will be there, as he always is.
“It’s a magical place that really removes you from everything else that’s going on in your life,” Roy says. “It just really is a unique setting and a unique place.”