SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – To mark the unofficial start of baseball season, the Red Sox are in Springfield for Winter Weekend.

Red Sox fans came gathered at the MassMutual Center Friday evening with the beginning of the Winter Weekend as the team is hosting a series of fan panels and events that will include quite a few current and former players.

The Red Sox haven’t hosted a live Winter Weekend since 2019 but it’s now back and nearly the teams full current roster and management are in Springfield just weeks before Spring training begins.

“Just to be around all these guys, the players, the fanbase is always cool. So it’s a great event. I had a blast in ’19 and I’m gonna have fun the next few days and I know the fans are gonna do the same thing and it should be a fun weekend for the Red Sox,” said Alex Cora, Manager of the Red Sox.

For local Red Sox fans, this is an opportunity to meet and listen to some of the players they’ve grown up idolizing close to home.

“I remember staying up back in ’04 when they were trying to break the curse with my dad and until the very end, and we just looked at each other and said the curse is over and when they said they were coming to Springfield, we were like we have to go to this,” said Chris Berry of Southwick.

Over ten Red Sox alumni have shipped up to Springfield for the event including Boston legends; Dwight Evans and Jim Rice as well as members of that 2004 team, Jasin Varitek, Pedro Martinez and the hugely popular crowd favorite, David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz.

On Saturday, there will be events all day including a celebration remembering the 2013 World Series team 10 years ago and Sox Survivor- a spring on the classic reality TV show.