"Once we inventoried everything, then we started placing orders. After we came back from Christmas break is when the orders started coming in and then we loaded the floor of the clubhouse with pallets and as the orders come in, we check them off, put them on the pallet and it makes everything easier for today where we just get the jack and pallet them right into the truck."
After years of driving a plain, unmarked truck to Clearwater carrying the supplies, the truck this year was decorated with a large Phillies logo on each side. Beneath the logo reads, "Just getting started" in reference to the start of spring training next Thursday, when pitchers and catchers report. For Marty Garland, the Wayne Moving & Storage Co. truck driver who is making his sixth drive down to Bright House Field, the outside of the truck may look different, but the contents on the inside were nothing out of the ordinary.
"I have been with the company for 20 years and this is my sixth year making this trip, but from what I can see, the load looks normal," Garland said. "Compared to other loads I have done, this is much different because there is a mix of everything, from golf clubs to boxes to a hot dog shooter. There is a little bit of everything."
"This year actually, there is nothing out of the ordinary that is packed. It's kind of almost scary," O'Rourke said. "Every position player that comes to camp is going to get two dozen bats, while a starting pitcher has a dozen bats. Every player and coach that shows up has two new batting-practice tops. They are in bins with labels and when we arrive on Saturday, we just put the bin in front of their locker and their pants are in there along with their tops and jackets so it makes things easier."
With thousands of items being transported, O'Rourke said there has never been an issue with players, coaches or front office employees requesting additional supplies. After many years of practice, the workers were well prepared this year and did not face any obstacles during the process.
"Our whole staff has done this for over 100 years so we've got it down pretty well," O'Rourke said. "We get better and if we think we didn't do something well last year or last truck day, we will change it. For us, it's like riding a bike. We know what to order, we know what to pack, what guys need, what guys won't need, what front-office guys will need, what they won't need and if there is something we forget, we can always call back to Philly and they will FedEx it to us."
After beginning the packing process at 8 a.m. yesterday, the group loaded up the final item, the Phanatic's hot dog launcher, and left Citizens Bank Park for Center City at 11:15 a.m. The lunchtime trek began on Market Street, went around City Hall and to the Art Museum before getting onto the Ben Franklin Parkway. Around 12:30, the truck merged onto 95 and headed south.
"The drive isn't too bad," Garland said. "I have 2 days to get down there and I am able to stop at reststops and stuff like that so it isn't bad. The weather usually isn't an issue since we're going south, so that's a good thing. The warmer weather is what I'm really looking forward to the most."
Once the truck arrives, the crew will begin to empty and organize the contents in preparation for pitchers and catchers reporting. The Phillies' position players will report on Feb. 18 to participate in the first full-squad workout just 8 days before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Feb. 26 at Bright House Field.
If the truck is spotted during its 2-day expedition, Phillies fans are asked to send @Phillies equipment sightings and photos using #ClearwaterOrBust on Twitter.