Bolstering Boston Red Sox fans
As if on cue, hundreds maybe thousands of the Fenway Faithful begin chanting, "Let's go, Red Sox!" and don their Boston Red Sox Rally Glasses.
At least that's what Ron and his wife, Mary Jane Piazza, are hoping.
Ron Piazza (no relation to former big league catcher Mike) is a chiropractor with a thriving practice on North Street. He is also the inventor of Red Sox Rally Glasses, red-tinted sunglasses in the shape of the stylized Red Sox "B" tilted sideways.
Piazza, not surprisingly, is a big Red Sox fan. And one day a few years ago, he noticed a magnet on his refrigerator in that same stylized "B" shape. Only the magnet had been pushed slightly askew, so that the "B" was sort of facing downward on the fridge.
"And I saw that, and I said to myself, 'That's kind of interesting. That might look cool as a pair of glasses,' " he said.
Piazza began researching, casually, the copyrights for something like Red Sox glasses.
"To be honest, I figured I couldn't be the only guy that had ever thought of something like this," said Piazza.
But, after looking on several team Web sites, including MLB.com, he apparently was.
Still, Piazza wasn't 100 percent convinced. He spoke to several lawyers and people familiar with copyright law. And they couldn't find anyone else who had thought of Red Sox Rally Glasses, either.
But Piazza remained cautious. He applied for a patent, which is pending, he said. He had a mockup made of the glasses, and his friends, some of whom weren't Red Sox fans, seemed to like the idea.
So in 2007, he and his then-12-year-old daughter, Olivia, went out to Fenway with the Rally Glasses.
'I was very encouraged'
Around the seventh inning, Olivia put the glasses on. Reaction, said Piazza, was immediate.
"A lot of people sitting around us were interested," he said. "Some of them asked me, 'Where did you get those glasses?' I was very encouraged."
In fact, said Piazza, even after the game, several people who had seen Olivia with the glasses on but were not sitting close enough to approach the PIazzas, came up to them and asked about the glasses.
So, encouraged, Piazza set about trying to figure out a way to sell the glasses at Fenway. That, according to Mary Jane, was an extended, "challenging" process.
Eventually, the Piazzas struck a deal with another Fenway vendor to sell the glasses, a deal that Piazza said has the approval of Major League Baseball. An initial batch of 180 were made, and sold well. Now, Piazza is having a larger lot made up. Because he got something of a late start, the Rally Glasses aren't at Fenway Park yet.
"We are expecting to have them ready for the next home stand (on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles)," he said.
However, for Sox fans who can't wait, the rally glasses are on sale for $9.99 at Carr Hardware in Pittsfield, Lee and Great Barrington. A caveat: A limited number of glasses are available, so get there early.
'Cool, in a retro way'
Locally, reaction to the glasses went from "horrific" to "satanic-looking" to "cool, in a kind of retro way." A reporter walking down Main Street in Great Barrington wearing the glasses got a few stares and a few smiles.
Piazza admitted that he isn't sure if the glasses will catch on. He plans to send a box to the Sox clubhouse in hopes that some of the players might don them while sitting on the bench or in the bullpen.
"I guess I'm hoping that people will see them on sale, think they're cool, and buy them," he said. "And then, when the Sox are behind, people will put them on and use them like rally caps. But it's hard to tell how popular they will be."
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