A Southerner’s first time venturing into Fenway

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I’ve seen baseball games all over the country.

The Texas Rangers, the Cincinnati Reds, the San Diego Padres, the L.A. Angels and, of course, my Atlanta Braves. They’ve each had unique ball parks and cool traditions I’m glad I was able to experience.

There’s been one ball park on my list that I’ve always wanted to see, though. It’s the unicorn I’ve always hunted, but have never been able to catch.

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Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

Last Friday night, I finally caught that unicorn.

I got to Boston last Thursday afternoon, knowing there was probably no way I was going to get to see Fenway Park that trip. After all, the New York Yankees were in town. The biggest rivalry in baseball (and arguably all of sports) is a recognition Bostonians and New Yorkers covet. Ticket prices reflect that. I took just one look, and I could feel my wallet whimper as I scrolled down the list of available seats. I turned my phone off, disgusted and disappointed. Maybe next time.

By Thursday night, I got word that one of my hotel employees might be able to hook me up with a ticket. I met with him and jumped on it, paying less than half of what I saw tickets going for online.

And like that, I was going to see the Red Sox vs. the Yankees at Fenway Park. Does it really get any better than that?

From the rooftop restaurant of my hotel, I could see the lights to the park turn on as time for first pitch came closer and closer. I looked down and saw bumper to bumper traffic along Storrow Drive, one of Boston’s major roads along the Charles River. It was all for the Red Sox game. I decided to wait until the game had started to make my way over.

After about 30 minutes, the traffic had completely disappeared and cars were zipping down Storrow Drive like it was the Bainbridge Bypass. I called an Uber and was at the park in less than five minutes.

I could hear the buzz of the crowd from half a mile away. The area surrounding Fenway Park was packed, overflowing with people moving from restaurants to bars to the stadium and back again, all within a block of the field. I was dropped off at Gate B, and heard a sarcastic “Good luck!” from my Uber driver in his thick New England accent as I slammed the door. Was it really that obvious I was a fish out of water?

I turned back around to walk into the park and came upon a group of four statues named “Teammates”. They were Bobby Doerr, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky. Hanging behind them on a huge white sign were the words “FENWAY PARK” welcoming me in. I marched through the gate and scanned my ticket. I was in. People were everywhere, and I watched them mingle and talk and laugh with each other, marveling at their funny accents and prideful boasting whenever a Yankees fan was brave enough to cut past them. It was glorious. I was in neutral clothing, but I imagine I’d be a victim as well if I had worn a Braves hat.

I immediately went to buy a drink and some peanuts while trying to find where the heck I was supposed to be sitting. I watched the game from a TV above the concession stand window as I waited in line. Every single strike that Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello threw sent the crowd into a roaring frenzy. I could feel the vibrations through the ground beneath me, a sensation I’ve only felt at a college football game. That’s the thing, though. Down in Georgia, college football is our life blood. Up in Boston, they’re all about their Red Sox. They fandoms are similar in that regard (although I think college football fans are a little crazier).

I finally got my food and a beverage and wandered in the general direction of Grandstand 3, where my ticket said I was supposed to be. I went up through one staircase and realized I jumped in too early. I also realized I would look like the biggest jerk in the world if I were to try and scooch my way in front of an entire row of packed Red Sox fans to get to the next section. So I sighed and headed back down and around.

When I finally found my seat, I plopped down in the tiny chair and soaked in the view. Everything was so close. I felt like I could sneeze on the Yankees pitcher warming up in the bullpen, and I could spit one of my peanuts to the other side of the field, if I had one big enough. The crowd was considerably louder in here, and I cheered along as a Yankees batter hit a pop fly out to deep center field.

It was hot, I was sweating like a horse and all of my beliefs of what constitutes a personal bubble were being violated by the people sitting on all sides of me, but I was in awe. This was a truly incredible experience, and one I will never forget.

I saw the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-1 in Fenway Park on a Friday night. Really… does it get much cooler than that?