Ballpark of the Week: Fenway Park (Home of the Boston Red Sox)
I am not even close to forgiving the Boston Red Sox for beating my beloved Detroit Tigers in the ALCS last year. The fact that they eventually won the championship makes things a little better (if you’re gonna lose, might as well lose to the champ), but not nearly enough to soften the wounds. To be totally honest, with the exception of 2004 and their vanquishing of the Yankees, I can’t remember ever rooting for the Red Sox. And just for extra emotion, I grew up with the New York Mets as my “B” team, so I remember 1986 for all the right reasons.
All that aside, even I have to admit that the long and storied history of the Beantown team can give me goose bumps – from Babe to Foxx, Pesky and Rice to Pedro and Youk. I always had a reverence for Ted Williams as well – as a kid who loved the statistics of baseball, I was wowed by the way Williams could post such amazing numbers AND serve in two wars. So when my brother-in-law offered us tickets to the Sox game of our choice as a Christmas gift, we were elated for the opportunity.
As luck (and his generosity) would have it, we got to enjoy even more. The game we had selected was a Yankees-Sox game on a Saturday afternoon in May, but he did us one better and also got us tickets to see the Red Sox play the Anaheim Angels on the Thursday night we arrived in. We migrated from his Back Bay apartment to the ballpark and it was every bit as great as advertised.
As we walked to the hallowed park that first night, we found ourselves being enveloped, block by block, by Red Sox fans and the first notable difference between this and other parks was apparent: because (like Wrigley Field) this old park was in a neighborhood, it wasn’t just a matter of people walking the short distance from a parking lot to the park. Instead, people walked through neighborhoods. It was communal, and fun. It felt like what baseball was supposed to be.
By the time we got close, every Irish bar had the Dropkick Murphys blaring and the smells of a baseball game were everywhere. By the time we turned from Brookline onto Yawkey Way, it was on. There were street vendors with carts and just about every kind of pick-up-and-carry food imaginable. I became particularly infatuated with the stadium kabobs, and ate what seemed like three or four of them.
We wandered in the stadium, and were surrounded by baseball history. Like Wrigley, it was apparent from the first second that this was a throw back to an earlier time. The bricks, the smells (good and bad), how…small?…everything seems compared to the modern behemoth stadium. Now, that feeling of nostalgia for a time before you were ever born (pre-stalgia?) lasts right up to about the time you go to buy something, when you realize that this beer would have cost a 1920 cobbler his months income. But its still very very special.
Our first game, we sat down the first base side, and the seats were amazing. We watched a high scoring (if slow moving) game, where the Sox took it to the Anaheim Angels, even after Dice-K gave up 4 runs early. Most amusing was the Japanese gentleman behind us who shouted at Daisuke what we could only imagine were words of encouragement or terrible curses the entire time he was pitching.
The tradition of Red Sox nation is well known around the world now – singing along with Sweet Caroline, The stadium was full from first to last pitch, and with the Standell’s Dirty Water blaring, it was an amazing time.
We came back two days later, in a misty rain, to see the real deal – Yankees v Sox. Because it was a nationally televised game, it had a later than normal start time, which allotted us more time to spend at the grand old park. We strolled there leisurely in the mist, and decided to wander around the entire park this time (not just Yawkey Way). We were wandering down Landsdowne, behind the Green Monster, when what sounded like a shot rang out, and my wife dropped to the ground in a heap. There were audible gasps from the people in the Green Monster seats looking down at the street below. I was stunned – I had no idea what had happened.
Now, a Boston native might know right away. In that beautiful, completely asymmetrical and oddly shaped park, if a ball clears the Green Monster…it hits the street below. In the clip here, Melky Cabrera hits a homer over the wall that breaks a car windshield. Well, it just so happened that batting practice was taking place inside the park and someone put a charge into a ball that happened to clear the fence,but not my wife.
Within a minute, she was back on her feet and a few of Boston’s finest were there to make sure she was ok. A kid on a bike came up to us with the ball that had struck her, and offered it to us (we told him he could keep it, but he smiled and said ‘I get tons of them out here!’ and showed us a small bag of baseballs), so we pocketed it and headed into the park, where we could at least see flying objects beforehand.
The seats my brother-in-law had gotten us were amazing, and we got some Lobster Rolls and Sam Adams, and had a blast. CC Sabathia was chased early, but the Yankees persevered and emerged victorious. And we had a second great time at the ballpark. We visited the Ted Williams plaque, and walked through the concourse. Again, just like Wrigley, it felt like history. The fact everything was wet from the rain added a mustiness that reminded us of the age of the park as well.
As for Jen – well, she ended up with a bruise on her chest that looked like she had been hit by…well, a baseball that had been projected 400 feet through air and space. But she healed, and we had the baseball – and the great memories.
Dan’s scale (1-10): 8.9
Below are my stats. I post them for every park I’ve visited. I include the big details, as well as who I visited with. Lastly, I am a huge fan of authentic throwback jerseys, and for every stadium I visit, I buy one of a player from that organization I admired as a kid, from watching them or reading about them. So for every one, I will also list the throwbacks I’ve purchased for each.
Fenway Park – May 6, 2010. Anaheim Angels at Boston Red Sox
Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010, 7:12PM
Seat: Field Box 18
Ticket Cost: N/A
Went with: Jen Weaver
Time of Game: 3:43
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Angels 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6 9 2
Red Sox 0 0 2 0 5 4 0 0 X 11 11 0
Winning Pitcher: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-1)
Losing Pitcher: Scott Kazmir (2-2)
Fenway Park – May 8, 2010. New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Date: Saturday, May 8, 2010, 3:11 PM
Seat: EMC Club
Ticket Cost: N/A
Went with: Jen Weaver
Time of Game: 3:56
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Yankees 0 0 2 1 3 0 2 4 2 14 17 0
Red Sox 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 1
Winning Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves
Losing Pitcher: Clay Buchholtz
Jersey: Ted Williams (1939)