Boston Red Sox Fenway Park Boston, Massachusetts
There were four parks on my list, four that were the epitome of classic baseball parks that I felt I just HAD to see a game at in my lifetime. Two of them are gone and two that may never be allowed to go, but I thought that about the other two too!
The first was Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. I cut those teeth that actually chewed baseball card wax pack bubble gum on games at Tiger Stadium. I saw many games there and even worked there for two seasons while was finishing my degree.
The other stadium that’s now gone is the original Yankee Stadium. I saw the Yankees beat the Red Sox and then lose to the A’s a few days later in June 2006.
The remaining truly classic parks are Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, home of the Cubs and Fenway Park in Boston. In 1995-97, Wrigley was practically my home field. “The gang” and I made many day trips for games and even a few weekenders. The Cubs were also Mom’s favorite team, so she was always ready for a road trip! Fenway is home to the Boston Red Sox, David’s number one team. I pretty much knew that I was definitely going to make it to Fenway one day!
That “one day” was last Wednesday! What a great game to choose! The Red Sox beat up the Toronto Blue Jays in a game that featured 5 Boston home runs including 2 from Jason Varitek and finally the first this year form the team’s slumping slugger, Big Papi, David Ortiz. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury also tied the league record for unassisted putouts with 12. If you’re a Red Sox fan, it was an incredible game and wearing the hat and earrings I’d purchased on Yawkey Way before the game, I was definitely dressed the part of a happy fan!
Our seats were in the section with classic seats that dated back to 1936. The average human butt was smaller then and the average human legs were never as long as David’s, so they weren’t the mot comfortable seats. In fact, they are said to be the smallest seats and rows in baseball, but it was neat to sit in that piece of history for the game. The whole experience was a classic, historic. Yawkey Way, the street the park is on, is closed prior to game time for shopping, partying and generally soaking up the whole baseball experience. Inside Fenway the feel is similar to Wrigley in that you feel the history hugging you from every direction.
David got dinner for us. He brought me back a bottle of Poland Spring water, the answer to how a Coke contracted ballpark gets around the licensing agreement with Aqua Fina as the official bottled water of Major League Baseball, they sell SPRING water rather than PURIFIED water. Yeesh, huh? The water was to wash down a couple of Fenway Franks! The renown hot-dogs of the east are half price for the first hour after the gates open! Ben, David’s brother, had a seat a section over, which enabled us to have the good view behind home plate we had instead of nosebleed or standing room seats, joined us in our section before the game started so we had ballpark dinner together. I can now say that I’ve had the well-known signature dogs of each coast, having tried Dodger Dogs in Los Angeles in 2000. Guess that makes me a nationwide snouts-n-tails connoisseur!
But in all of the great points of history and the exciting blow out for the home team, the most impressive, the most enchanting part of Fenway Park is Red Sox Nation, the fans. I’ve never been to a game with more loyal and supportive fans! Although I suspect that it might be different when the rival Yankees are in town, there weren’t boos at the beginning of the game when the opposing team was announced, casual indifference, but no displays of poor sportsmanship from the crowd. That’s not a display of a lack of enthusiasm because the crowd erupted in cheering support as the beloved home players were announced. I’ve seen televised games where former players who left the organization on good terms were cheered when announced and even when they batted. Imagine, the crowd cheering mild approval when the opposing team gets a hit because “he used to be one of ours.” Once you’ve played in Boston, you really do have fans for life unless YOU spoil that relationship.
My skin just goose bumped when David Ortiz came to the plate. In most cities when one of your big boppers, the designated hitter, the man paid the big bucks to be the home run hitter hasn’t gone yard yet for the year in late May, the fans are speaking ill, calling for his head on the trading block, even booing at the announcement of his name. Red Sox fans joined in loud in applause and stared chanting in unison “Let’s go Papi!” In the 5th inning when he finally broke that dry spell and the ball sailed out of the park, the crowd just went nuts. You’d have thought the game had just been won! The cheering didn’t stop until Ortiz had come back out of the dugout for a curtain call.
The whole Fenway experience was just awesome from the festival atmosphere on Yawkey Way, to the Fenway Franks, to the historic seats, but what really makes it is the great baseball fans that make up Red Sox Nation. The people who loved and supported their team through 86 years of bad luck, curses and empty World Series hopes, deserve to see their beloved team win every time they play, well, every time except when they play the Tigers.
While I did cheer for them in the playoffs before we met, Boston is my second American League team by way of loving them along with David. After seeing a game in Boston, I have to say I’m very proud to have married into Red Sox Nation!