Top 100 Baseball Blog

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Traveling to a Boston Red Sox Game: A Running Diary

Last weekend I traveled with some friends down to a Boston Red Sox game (playing the Baltimore Orioles) for the first time in years. It remains such a unique experience for an out-of-towner like me that I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this particular trip.
-          Coming from northern Vermont like us, it can be hard to get jazzed up for a game simply because of the bleak three-and-a-half hour trip down the interstate, which offers next to nothing in the way of a view.

-          Now that parking lots in proximity to Fenway Park charge upwards of $40 for a spot, taking the subway in, which we did, is a much easier solution. Not only is it much more affordable, it may even be quicker, as you don’t need to navigate snarls of traffic coming in or going out.

-          Life in Boston is certainly at a different pace than Vermont. Not 30 seconds after emerging from the subway station, we encountered someone yelling and threatening a ticket scalper, culminating in a mostly-full bottle of Arnold Palmer being angrily thrown down the street (nearly soaking an innocent bystander).

-          No matter how many times you’ve been there, the feeling you get as Fenway Park comes into view never gets old. The old architecture, statues, fluttering banners and animated fans walking up and down the sidewalks immediately infuses you with the kind of excitement one typically experiences as a small child on Christmas morning.

-          The Red Sox team store is an impressive thing to behold. Approximately the size of a typical Wal-Mart, it has just about every article of clothing and trinket associated with the team that one could want. On the day we were there, popular 1980s-era player Sam Horn showed up to do a meet and greet and sign autographs. Having met him before, it came as no surprise at how gracious and friendly he was, even accommodating requests for photographs.

-          After hustling out of the store to make sure we didn’t miss all of the pre-game activities, we were rewarded by hitting the stands just as fans were being permitted to enter the field (in a roped-off section that was essentially the warning track encircling the diamond). A number of players were on the infield side of the ropes to interact with and take pictures with fans as a thank you. Having never seen this before at Fenway, it came as a pleasant surprise.

-          Despite thousands of fans taking advantage of the on-field opportunity, a friend and I were able to capture our own “experiences.” We were both able to touch the Green Monster and take pictures of each other in front of the looming home run stopper. I also got pictures with Wade Miley, Noe Ramirez and Eduardo Rodriguez. Koji Uehara was next to me at one point and had his arm on my shoulder but was so mobbed by fans that he moved on. I swear, I’ve never seen that guy when there wasn’t a huge smile on his face!

-          Our seats ended up being $37 tickets on the left field side family section, under the overhang. The view and the experience was surprisingly good bang for the buck. The only complaint from this over six-footer is Fenway’s famous lack of leg room, as my knees touched the back of the seat directly in front of me for the entire game.

-          A lady sitting behind us complained loudly after we and the rest of the park leapt to our feet to applaud a home run by Boston catcher Blake Swihart. “People aren’t supposed to stand up at baseball games,” she matter-of-factly said to no one in particular. Fortunately, she didn’t have to worry about suffering through another such occurrence, as she and her companions were escorted out of the section moments later for drinking beer in their seats—which are an alcohol-free zone.

-          The Red Sox may not have had a very good season but they sure have some impressive looking young players. Swihart hit his home run. Henry Owens, the team’s starter that day, didn’t allow a run. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts looks like a younger, better-fielding Hanley Ramirez. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. appears to be performing ballet when he playing defense. There is definitely reason to think that going to another late-season game in the next year or two will have much more meaning.

-          The performance of Neil Diamond’s classic Sweet Caroline during the eighth inning never gets old. It’s hard to believe the team thought about doing away with it last year. Swaying along to the crowd and singing is an integral part of being a Sox fan.

-          The Red Sox played a video board tribute to NESN television announcer Don Orsillo, whose contract is not being renewed at the end of the season. It was a nice way to remember the 15 years of solid work he has put in as the voice of the team. The crowd contributed with a standing ovation that lasted around a minute, and there were numerous fans waving sticks with cutouts of Orsillo’s head attached. “Don Or-silloooo,” the crowd chanted, as play got back underway…

-          Overall, it wasn’t a particularly exciting game, as Boston beat the Orioles 2-0. However, the real treat came after the last out was made, as the Red Sox once again opened up the field to allow fans to run the bases. After waiting in an indeterminably long line for about half an hour, we were able to stroll around the bases. Although many of the staff who were tasked with herding us sheep were not the friendliest (on more than one occasion they could be heard telling us to “move it!”) it was a pretty amazing experience for this life-long fan. As I was waiting in the queue to go out on the bases, I noticed Tom Werner, the team’s chairman, standing 10 feet away. I beckoned him over and asked him to take a picture with me, which he graciously did.

-          After the on-field experience, it was a relatively quick escape from the Hub. Other than briefly stopping for me to snag a significantly discounted “Free Brady” t-shirt from a street vendor, we made it back to the commuter lot from the subway without incident. Yes, going to Boston for a game isn’t necessarily cheap, and for someone as far away as me is a full day commitment. However, it’s an experience that never gets old, and is something I hope to continue on a regular basis.

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