I think it’s every baseball fan’s dream to travel to all 30 Major League ballparks. In fact, whenever my family takes a trip to a baseball city, we end up planning our schedule around that of the home team. So when my pal André suggested we take a baseball road trip, I was all in.
Our original plan was to travel to Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore in three days for three games, but that just didn’t work out. So we decided to go for Fenway Park since it’s a stadium that every fan wants and needs to see. We flew up on Thursday, June 12, for that evening’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
Boston is a city built around the water. In fact, it’s early history was completely dependent on the resources provided by the ocean and bay. The modern Boston is still heavily influenced by the water as the city is divided into sectors or neighborhoods by the rivers and inlets. From the air, that interaction between the water, land, roads, and buildings is really cool to observe. Aside from Fenway Park, the approach to Logan Airport was the highlight of my day.
After a short cab trip to the hotel and a ride on the T down to the Fenway district, we were outside the green confines of baseball’s most majestic cathedral. The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip advises fans to visit Italian sausage vendors outside the park on Lansdowne Street. Naturally, we got dinner (well, “first dinner” if you ask André) from an awesome salesman behind the Green Monster. Side note: For any fan planning to travel to one or more baseball cities, the aforementioned book is a must-buy. It analyzes each seating region within a stadium and discusses outside-the-park opportunities in addition to all that the park itself has to offer. In all, it’s nearly 500 pages of pure baseball fandom.
At 4:30 we were able to enter the stadium for batting practice due to our new membership in the Red Sox Nation fan club. We ventured atop the Green Monster, where narrow aisles and steep stairs provide a less-than-ideal venue for home run snagging. Still, there were a few catchable balls in straight away left field that I would have easily caught had I been in the right spot. I was too distracted trying to take pictures and I missed out on those opportunities.
A while later, we trekked down to the right field side and took pictures by Pesky’s Pole and the red seat. The right field foul pole is named after former Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky, who reportedly hit a game winning home run that landed in close proximity to the pole, which sits just 302 feet down the right field line. Pesky had just 17 home runs during his 10-year Major League career, so it is likely that the ones he hit at Fenway Park all landed in the short porch.
The red seat has quite the opposite significance as it sits 502 feet from home plate in the right field bleachers. It is where a Ted Williams home run reportedly landed in 1946–the longest homer ever hit at Fenway Park.
André and I then sauntered around the concourse to our ticketed seats in the grandstand section 12. Fun fact: Fenway Park opened in 1912 and the designers apparently tried to cram as many seats into the stadium as possible. Therefore, the grandstand seats have extremely limited space. And since I have disproportionately long femurs, I couldn’t sit straight forward without my knees digging into the back of the wooden seat in front of me. But, I remembered it was Fenway Park so I figured I’d get over it.
We walked around the rest of the park and took a few pictures and were just happy to be there. When we made our way back towards our seats, we noticed one of the field box sections was particularly empty. I never imagined seat hopping would be a possibility at Fenway Park, but nevertheless we planted ourselves in two aisle seats about ten rows up from the field and just waited until the seat’s rightful owners claimed them. I think baseball fans should have squatter’s rights after three innings, but the high rollers who actually pay for their premium seats wouldn’t be too happy if that were the case.
The stadium as a whole filled up by game time, yet our new section remained mostly empty. Our aisle seats were in a completely empty row, and two rows in front of us were vacant as well. So even if our seats’ owners were to come, we had other options. In addition, ushers behind us were not checking tickets as they likely assumed anyone entering the seats had the correct documentation because it was so crowded. In the third or fourth inning, some folks finally arrived with seats in our row, but still not ours. A little while later we moved down to a different empty row just for some more comfort. We were not questioned once throughout the night and successfully pretended we were the rich chaps who were supposed to be sitting down by the field. As it turns out, the section we were in retails for about $150 per seat!
The game itself was exciting. David Ortiz hit a fifth inning home run to put the Red Sox up 3-0. Both teams scored twice in the sixth to make the game 5-2. In the top of the seventh, the Indians had one on and one out when Michael Bourn launched a deep fly to center field. It looked like a sure extra base hit. But Jackie Bradley Jr. tracked it down and made a running catch on the warning track before he turned and fired a one-hopper to first to double off the runner and end the inning. Boston won 5-2.
Fenway Park. Pictures say 1,000 words and I cannot write anything to adequately describe the majesty of the stadium anyway. So if you haven’t already, make sure you check out my photo post of the game.
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