I took me out to the ball game, Red Sox at Fenway Park.
I skipped on the peanuts & cracker jack, If they keep serving Goose Island I’ll never come back
It looked, looked looked like a rain out; the Sox didn’t win, that’s a shame
But i had One … Two … Three cups of beer at the old ball game!
It had all the prospects of being a boring Saturday night, and I wasn’t going to let me keep it that way. Quick scan of what was going on that interested me, it came down to driving a half hour to watch a soccer game, or head on over to the old ball diamond to see the local team take on a bunch of has beens from some rinky dink little state that is so bad God had to pock mark it with 10,000 lakes to make it sound interesting.
This was my second ever visit to Fenway & first as an actual resident of the city, which kinda tells you how little time I’ve spent in Boston since I moved here. To make it that much more like a local, I took the T to the game (that’s the subway), and for the first time ever successfully avoided paying parking charges for Baseball. The heat of the day was dying quickly, with a line of storms dragging in some Canadian air and a heck of a lot of fireworks if it stayed together. Yet after a huge set of gusts that made batting and catching balls an adventure for the first couple of innings (as well as watching dust storms blow through the infield), the game went off without a hitch.
For the unfamiliar, Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest baseball stadium in Major League Baseball. Built in 1912, and named for the neighborhood it sits in, the old park is as well known for it’s history as it is for its quirks. Keeping to the old motto “Boston wasn’t planned, it just happened”, the parameters of the park had to be controlled due to things popping up around it, like train lines, interstates, apartments, swamps, etc. The result is playing dimensions which are against the rules (some of the fences are as much as 30 feet shorter in distance than allowed). More famously, it overcomes some of this with the Green Monster, a 37 foot tall left field wall ensuring that if you don’t have the distance you better have the height. At just under 38,000 seating capacity, it is one of the smaller stadiums for attendance; and nearly all of that is in the lower bowl of the main stands. From some directions, coming up to the stadium is unremarkable except for the light towers; so much so that the famous pitcher Roger Clements on his first visit in the 80’s thought that when the car pulled up the taxi driver took him to some dank warehouse to mug him.
What you really get when you visit Fenway, though, is a true sports atmosphere in the most classical sense. I loved that feeling that you can start to tell the game is coming from the moment I got on the T line; and I had 10 stops & a train change to go before the park. By the swarm of people left the T, we were heading in a wave towards the lights and the sounds – souvenirs and program vendors already barking for our money. The street outside of the main gates on Yawkee Way were closed to traffic, allowing the constant spill of beer vendors and food to ready you for the night. The close seating, the low angle, and the nearness to the field helped create a sense of involvement by everyone in the stands. Around me people exchanged stories of the times they came to the park, or where their favorite places to sit were at, or what games they got to see. The long game, dragged on by high scores, caused the more casual fans to hit the road after the newest of Fenway traditions (Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond at the 8th inning stretch). What remained were true sports people, but committed to the experience.
In one of those great highlights of any sport event, the last couple innings attracted a great bit of attention in our part of the grounds. About halfway up down the left field side in one of those sections thinned out by departing fans, a young boy no older than 7 stood up on seat rests and started chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox” all by himself. Slowly, more and more people clapped along with the chant, but didn’t join in the chanting. Only his young high pitched voice shouted, and the thunder of the claps followed it. At it’s height, at least ten thousand people still in ear shot of the boy were clapping along. The true definition of a cheer leader, his single voice brought equal parts encouragement for the game and over the top cuteness.
The Red Sox lost, something they haven’t done as much this year as they had in the past. But when your hitters can smash 8 runs and your pitchers can’t keep the Twins under 10, then you got a problem. Today, though, that didn’t matter.
Baseball is the national pastime. Meaning, it is how you pass the time … a way to enjoy a place, enjoy it with other people, and enjoy a game.
I just didn’t want to be bored on a Saturday night. Win or lose, I wasn’t bored.