“Aren't the K-Men really descendants of the Royal Rooters?”
- Boston Magazine, April 2003
The Boston K-Men phenomenon began ten years ago, when Pedro Martinez joined the Red Sox. At every home game that Pedro pitched between 1998 and 2004, the crew plastered K signs symbolizing his strikeouts on the back wall of the Fenway Park bleachers, working the crowd into a frenzy.
After Pedro left for New York, the red-faced K-Men first moved on to Curt Schilling’s and then Daisuke Matsuzaka’s penchant for punching out opponents. But as Pedro left the confines of Fenway Park, so, too, did the back wall of the bleachers, stranding the K-Men without a K-surface. Ever resilient, the K-Men migrated from the bleachers to baseball’s most famous perch, the Green Monster.
Red is dominant in the K-manic color scheme. Red attire is required, as well as red face paint. Some who fear the lasting effects of a complete face-painting often opt for small K’s on their cheeks. The K-Men condone this practice but consider it Junior Varsity.
Additionally, the K-Men are somewhat ritualistic. No K sign may face the field before it is posted. When an opposing batter has two strikes, the latter-day Royal Rooters rhythmically chant the name of the Red Sox pitcher on the mound. Speed and accuracy are critical components in K-mania; once a batter is whiffed, the K card is immediately posted informing Red Sox Nation as to how the hitter went down, either swinging or looking, indicated by a forward K sign or a backward K sign, respectively.
Several K-Men deep, the crew records strikeouts each time the staff ace takes the mound at Fenway Park during the regular season, as well as on every Opening Day. At playoff home games the K-Men ensure visiting teams are aware of the pressures of home field advantage.
While “The K-Men” is the organization’s “nom de guerre,” it is actually a bit of a misnomer. The K-Men is an equal opportunity outfit, with representation from both women and children.