BOSTON -- Joba Chamberlain said he actually heard a couple compliments on his beard Friday night from the fans seated behind the Tigers' bullpen in the right-field seats at Fenway Park. He also heard a fan tell him that UPS was hiring.
"So go get a job then," Chamberlain said back.
Like so many relievers, Chamberlain enjoys going back and forth with the Fenway faithful from the close quarters of the visitors' bullpen. Like so many former Yankees, including Phil Coke, Chamberlain gets more than his fair share of grief when he comes to town.
Some of them are creative. The UPS line was not one of them.
"It's fun. I love the banter between the fans. It's great," Chamberlain said. "Obviously there's a line you don't cross as a fan, but 99 percent of them are good. It makes it fun for us. We're sitting down there, we've got to get up quick, but during the game, you just hear people talking. It's very entertaining.
"And they don't expect you [to respond] half the time, so it's very funny, because you'll catch them off-guard. It's always interesting to see the looks on their faces when you kind of jab back or say something. It's pretty good. The good ones, I always tip my hat to, or say, 'Nice one.' It's always fun."
Though other American League parks, like U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Safeco Field in Seattle, can offer a similar atmosphere in terms of proximity between the relievers and the fans, none of them compare to the knowledge of the fans at Fenway, Chamberlain said. They know the game, and they know the background.
And considering their favorite players all had longer beards than Chamberlain, some of them know better than to be hypocrites.
"I was taken aback by the [positive] comments," said Chamberlain, who couldn't grow the beard as a Yankee due to the organization's facial-hair ban. "They were nice."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.