On the Red Sox and Fenway Park
The Red Sox beat the New York Yankees soundly on Mother’s Day. Fantastic, because I was there, along with my two youngest kids, and their father. It was a great game, featuring a strong outing by Jon Lester, who pitched seven innings, only allowing two runs (on solo home runs by Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez); he was relieved by Manny Delcarmen in the eighth, followed by Tim Wakefield (my personal fave), pitching a scoreless ninth. The highlight of the game was probably the five-run Red Sox third, with some nicely placed doubles by Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jeremy Hermida. Watching the Red Sox put it to the Yankees and A. J. Burnett really made Mothers’ Day something special this year.
It’s so difficult these days to get tickets to the Red Sox–they’ve sold out every game for years now. It wasn’t always this way, however. Back when Molly, my oldest, was ten or twelve, there were summer days when we’d look at each other and say, “Why don’t we go to the baseball game tonight?” This would involve leaping into our old Volkswagen and driving four hours to Boston, where we could just waltz up to the box office and buy tickets. They were always available. And, relatively speaking, they were cheap: the same $52 ticket for the seat in section 25 which I occupied Sunday night cost all of $10 then. Sometimes Molly and I, if we were feeling flush, would shell out for the $14 seats, just to sit closer to the field. I could probably sit in those same seats now, if I were willing to sell her as my first-born child.
I’ve taken the two youngest before–the last time three years ago when we watched the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians behind the pitching of Tim Wakefield
and homers by Doug Mirabelli and Mark Bellhorn. That time we sat in section 19, up behind home plate on the first base side. The time before that was in the bleachers on a blazingly hot day in July when they were five and six years old, and Rosalie cried for nearly the entire game. The three of us have done the ballpark tour, led by a guide named Steve, who claimed to have been leading tours when the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918; as we trailed Steve around the park, Ben kept answering all the trivia questions he threw out, until that man suggested Ben lead the tour with him.
Before the advent of these two children, Molly and I frequented Fenway every summer. We sat everywhere: first baseline, third baseline, right field corner, bleachers. We saw all sorts of interesting things: Jose Canseco pitching for the Rangers; at that blowout of a game, the park emptied early, and we kept moving to seats closer to the field–as we moved, Molly picked up spare change, row by row, until, by the time we left, she had found about $17. She and I went to the last game of the 1993 season, against the Milwaukee Brewers, a game which stretched into fourteen innings; it was the last game Sherm Feller (“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Fenway Park!”) announced before his death the following winter, and when a passing shower in the 12th was followed by a rainbow, he said, “Rainbow courtesy of Red Sox public relations.” We took a friend, Jonathan Jenkins (now a Hollywood attorney and writer, then a mere Brandeis summer intern), to a game against the Detroit Tigers which Bob Zupcic won with a walk-off grand slam. We huddled through three-hour rain delays. I got a batting-practice home run ball hit by Tim Naehring into the center field bleachers. We were once run into in the street by Jerry Remy, and close up, his tan looked terrible.
It seems a shame that my younger kids won’t have the varied experience of the ballpark that their older sister had.
This is, of course, a trade-off, since during Molly’s childhood, being in contention for the pennant was not part of the Red Sox fan’s mindset. At least, though, they know who their home team is.