Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox
L: H. Santiago
W: R. Dempster
S: K. Uehara
Sitting on the Monster
I did it. It took me 95 days, 16,955 miles and a lot of grapes, but I did it. 30 stadiums, one summer. My body is about ready to break down, but before that I need to tell you all about my experience at Fenway Park. I assure you I did not plan it this way, but I am ending my tour serendipitously at the oldest park in the Majors and I could not be happier the way my schedule turned out.
I am staying out in the suburbs of Boston with some family friends, which means I had to drive into the city as opposed to taking advantage of public transportation. Much like San Francisco, the parking situation by the stadium was quite maddening. It cost me $35 to park within 10 minutes of Yawkey Way. It was impossible to stay mad however because by the time I got to Fenway I could feel the 101 year history of this stadium wash over me. There were several moments during my time at Fenway when I genuinely felt a chill run down my spine.
Yawkey Way is a street directly outside of Fenway Park named after former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey. Before the gates open, people are free to walk along the street and shop at the team store. Once the gates open however, this area becomes accessible only to those with tickets to the game. This is when the fun really starts. There are jugglers, face painters, a man on stilts, a band and many other entertainers roaming the street as fans stream by. There is no better way to describe it than to call it a baseball carnival. Boston is a city that breathes baseball. I have just spent the last three months visiting every Major League city in the continent. These cities appreciate their teams and the sport of baseball in varying degrees. I can say without question that the two towns that are 1 and 1a for pure baseball enthusiasm are St. Louis and Boston. This is not to say that their fans are “better” or “more knowledgeable” as a rule, but rather the atmosphere in each city is one of baseball no matter where you go. When I was in St. Louis I stayed at a hotel 30 minutes outside of the city and there was a random statue of Stan Musial in the courtyard. I could not walk 10 feet in Boston without seeing some reference to the Red Sox and once Yawkey Way opened I saw generations of fans showing up three hours before first pitch.
I do have some issues with this stadium and its fans, but before I get to that I want to give the Red Sox organization some serious praise. Gates open at different times depending on the stadium. Some parks allow the general ticketed public to enter between 90 minutes and 2½ hours before first pitch. Some allow season ticket holders and other VIPs to enter the stadium well before everyone else. Boston has a unique gimmick inside of their ballpark that even non-baseball fans are aware of: the Green Monster. When I knew that my tour was going to end in Boston, I made it my mission to be able to get a view from high atop the Monster. I had psyched myself up to grease a security guard or try and sneak my way up there somehow. I jumped in a line that I assumed was for season ticket holders only and prepared myself to act as if I belonged. This line was not for season ticket holders however, but rather for members of the Red Sox Nation. Disappointed that I was not going to be able to try out my Mission Impossible spy skills, I asked what the Red Sox Nation was all about. Once you sign up for $15, you get access to the park thirty minutes before everyone else, plus you get to watch batting practice from the Monster. Now I hear what you must be thinking/saying (you shouldn't be talking out loud to your laptop by the way): “$15 is a ripoff just to get in thirty minutes early Muneesh. You are a sucker”. I would agree with you if it was only for this game, but the $15 actually covers you for the entire season. That is an absolutely amazing deal if you are a Sox fan that plans on going to even a handful of games each season. Most stadiums will only allow their season ticket holders this access and I assure you that the prices for season tickets are considerably higher than $15 a year. So to whoever in the Red Sox front office came up with this I say Bravo!
This is the last official stop on my stadium tour. There were plenty of great food options along Yawkey Way, but I felt it was only fitting to order a Fenway Frank to cap off my baseball summer. By the way, I have received some judgmental feedback on my use of ketchup on my hot dog. I apologize for this injustice and subsequent shame I have brought on my family name, but I like ketchup.
Today's game was a battle of different colored socks. The White Sox brought Hector Santiago to the mound in his first full season as a starter. The Red Sox welcomed back Ryan Dempster from suspension after taking four pitches to hit Alex Rodriguez on a 3-0 count early this year. Dempster pitched a quality start into the seventh inning while giving up only three runs. Santiago was knocked out early in the fourth after giving up four which would prove to be all of the scoring necessary for the home town club to secure a victory. The game was fun, but here is where I must take back some of the praise I heaped onto the Red Sox organization above.
To the ushers of Fenway Park: Please. Tell. People. To. Sit. Down. During. An. At-bat. From the moment I sat down in my fairly expensive seat there was a constant stream of fans, security guards, ushers and vendors passing before my eyes and some who decided to just plant themselves directly in front of me. There are people who complain about the seats at Fenway being uncomfortable, I am not one of them. I appreciate the fact that these seats were built over 100 years ago and the modern idea of comfort has changed. Plus we may have gotten a bit larger as a population. I actually like the fact that there are still wooden seats. My backside is resting in the exact same spot as someone from 100 years ago and that is something that can not be said in most buildings in this country. We are a young nation in America. We do not have the thousand-year-old churches that they have in Europe, or the pyramids in Africa. There is something beautiful about knowing that I am sharing the same sight lines as someone 100 years ago who was watching Babe Ruth play on this field. It would just be lovely if people could try and not break these sight lines until there is a break in the action on the field. At many of the stadiums I have been to, there are amazing ushers who stand along the aisles (out of the way) and stop people from walking down the stairs while a player is at the plate. Please Boston, employ some of those ushers at Fenway.
While I was enjoying the game I made the decision to stay in Boston for a couple of extra days. Luckily, my Tigers were coming into town for the next series so I bought tickets to two more games at Fenway. That Red Sox Nation membership will have been worth the price. This time I decided to buy my tickets a little higher up as opposed to in the first row where I sat today. Hopefully this will enhance my view of the field and I can get some better pictures for you all to enjoy. Stay tuned to this site for some more great content in the coming weeks.
My tour is over. I can not believe it. I am not entirely sure how I am supposed to feel right now. This is something that I have wanted to do since I was a very young child. I have planned this tour in my head several times over the years, to the point of actually creating a schedule to do it six years ago. It's over now. There is still a lot to come on this site. I will be posting rankings for the stadiums in categories like food, atmosphere, fan base, etc. I am also heading to Cooperstown after I am done in Boston to bring this tour full circle. The podcast is still uploading so head on over to iTunes to subscribe or just listen right here on the site. Thank you for coming on this journey with me as I have rounded third and am finally home.
Next up: Cooperstown
Game Time Temp: 82
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
National Anthem: Vladimir Casseus
Seventh Inning Stretch: Blister in the Sun on the Organ
Total Pitches Thrown: 297
Total Hits: 12
Total Singles: 8
Total Doubles: 2
Total Triples: 1
Total Home Runs: 1
Total Walks: 10
Total Strike Outs: 13
Total Errors: 0
Game Time: 3:09
Attendance: 36,063 (97.3% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Dana DeMuth
Miles Traveled: 50 miles
Time in Car: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sleep Time: 9 hours
Bottles of Water: 5
Food Eaten: Grapes
Ballpark Food: Fenway Frank
Money spent on parking: $35
Money spent on ticket: $99.00
Cost of Program: $3.00
Money spent on food: $12.00
Total money spent on Merchandise: $24.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $185.00
Total Money spent today $185.00