There’s nothing like a classic game of baseball at Fenway Park.
Hours after the Nats dismantled the Mariners, I was on a plane to Boston where I would meet up with my dad for a Wednesday night matchup between the Red Sox and Rangers.
Upon arrival, I perused the various landmarks of the Boston Common, making sure to stop by the Make Way for Ducklings tribute, and even explored a local bookstore that clung to the nostalgic history of Boston baseball with titles like When Boston Still Had The Babe and The Year the Red Sox Won the Series.
Then it was off to Lansdowne Street, where the legendary Cask n’ Flagon served a late lunch.
At 4:40, the Green Monster opened for early batting practice access, so I snatched a Craig Kimbrel bobble head and ascended the preeminent feature of America’s most beloved ballpark (that title, of course, is according to signage around Fenway itself).
My inner desire for the afternoon was to cleanly catch a home run on the Green Monster, but that proved to be a much more difficult task than I anticipated.
There’s a wide aisle behind the Monster seats, but not many home runs reach it on the fly. Some that are hit far enough are hit too far and sail across Lansdowne Street as well. I was able to snag a pair of baseballs that had landed short and bounced back onto the aisle, but I wasn’t even close to catching one on the fly.
When I was up on the Monster, I turned around and saw a huge billboard across the street featuring rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi is the cousin of my college friend Emily, and is all the craze in Boston. It was kind of funny to get used to all the “Benintendi” shirts and jerseys walking around (and seeing his face plastered everywhere) because it was less than three years ago that Emily casually mentioned her cousin played at Arkansas and was apparently pretty good.
I milled around Fenway significantly before my dad arrived. He was in Lexington for a business trip, and didn’t make it to the park until just before first pitch.
As it turns out, the Red Sox have their own bobble head collection in the right field side of the main concourse, complete with shaking pedestals that keep each bobble in perpetual motion. It looked as though they had each bobble head given away at Fenway from recent seasons–an extensive, but substantially smaller collection than the one housed at Marlins Park.
As 7:00 appraoched, my dad finally arrived, beer cup in hand, lamenting about the Hamilton he lost for it, but reconciling his monetary sacrifice with the sliver of ballpark tradition that flavored his first game at Fenway Park since 1992.
I had indeed been to Fenway just once before as well, but much more recently–a 2014 day trip with my friend Andre.
Our seats were in the right field corner, just a section up from Pesky’s Pole. I enjoyed the vantage point, which provided the Green Monster as a backdrop. Although, the sun set along the third base line, temporarily challenging our vision before it sank out of view behind the seats.
Ace Chris Sale got the start for Boston, whose red socks have clearly not irked him as much as Chicago’s uniforms did last season. He ended up going 7 1/3 innings, and looking a lot better than his six-hit, four-run stat line appeared to report.
He did give up the game’s only home run, though, a towering shot over the Green Monster by Mike Napoli in the fifth inning.
The Rangers held a 3-1 lead late, instilling some anxiety in the Red Sox faithful, before the seventh-inning stretch ignited Boston’s offense. The Sox struck for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a commanding lead in the game. Benintendi drove in the final run of that inning on a sacrifice fly.
The game, which had been cruising up until that point, seemed to hit a brick wall pace-wise as Texas’ bullpen forgot how to get outs.
Sale allowed a run as he started the eighth inning before Joe Kelly came on to close out the win. Boston sealed the deal 9-4, meaning Kimbrel was unneeded on his bobble head night.
As quickly as American Airlines had brought me to Beantown, it whisked me out the next morning. I was back to D.C., where I would return to Nationals Park for a big day on Friday.