My trip to Boston – Part 3: Fenway ParkSeptember 11, 2008 at 2:34 am | Posted in Baseball, Personal | 13 Comments
I had been looking forward to watching a game at Fenway Park for almost my entire life. No, I’ve never liked the Red Sox, but I’ve always wanted to see a game at either Fenway or Wrigley Field. There’s just something amazingly awesome about being in a stadium that has been in use since 1912. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium, and it’s a great experience there, but because of its major renovation in the 1970s, it really doesn’t feel as old as it is. When my sister-in-law moved to Boston last year, I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d attend a game at Fenway. In December, my wife and I went to Boston and we went on a Fenway Park tour. When the 2008 baseball schedule was released, I immediately checked to see when the Rays would be playing in Boston. When I saw that they’d be there in September on my birthday (and when my wife who is a third grade teacher is tracked out from school) I started making plans. A few months ago, I bought tickets on StubHub, booked our plane tickets, and started eagerly awaiting my birthday…
Naturally, I wanted to get to Fenway as soon as the gates opened, which was at 5:00, two hours before game time. My wife and I took the T (Boston’s train/subway) and got there just before 5.
We knew that we were close to Fenway when we spotted the giant Citgo sign that sticks out behind the Green Monster:
While we were walking towards Yawkey Way, I saw an old Devil Rays flag hanging outside a Red Sox souvenir store. It looked very much out of place in the heart of Red Sox Nation, so I snapped a picture:
The next two pictures are from Yawkey Way, which is the street from which you enter Fenway Park. We waited in a line there before the gates opened. I stuck out like a sore thumb, wearing my Rays hat and jersey, among a sea of Red Sox fans. Many Red Sox fans approached me to ask why I was a Rays fan, where I was from, and to talk about the division race. Everyone that I talked to was friendly; there was no animosity towards a fan of the visiting team at their stadium.
Once the gates opened, we headed in. The guy who took my ticket made some remark about how the Rays wouldn’t be in first place much longer, and then someone else handed me a commemorative souvenir ticket marking the 456th consecutive sellout that was taking place, which broke the record that had been held by the Cleveland Indians. I was shocked when I looked up and saw that the person handing me the ticket was Mike Timlin!
Since we got to the game early, I got to watch the Rays take batting and fielding practice. I was also able to get some autographs and chat with a few players. Here’s James Shields and Scott Kazmir playing catch (with Eric Hinske next to Kazmir):
Here’s a great picture of the standings board on the Green Monster showing the Rays in first place. This looks great after so many years at the bottom of the standings:
I was able to get Scott Kazmir, Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell, Ben Zobrist, and Rays President Matt Silverman to sign a baseball. They all seemed genuinely happy to see a Rays fan at Fenway Park (I saw a total of about 20 Rays fans the entire night). When I saw Kazmir signing for a few people, I quickly ran over to where he was. Just as I got there, he started to walk away. Then I said the magic words: “Scott, I’m a Rays fan”. He turned around and signed the sweet spot on my ball:
Here are the signatures of Balfour and Howell, the Rays’ top two relief pitchers:
Here’s a picture of me a few minutes before the game started:
We had great seats in the fourth row of the second section of seats away from the field. We were on the edge of the Rays dugout, between third base and home plate.
And now some pictures from the game:
I was disappointed by the final score, but I still had a great time:
I actually predicted that the Rays would lose, so I wasn’t surprised. E-Jax had never pitched well at Fenway, and Jon Lester had been dominating the Rays all year. I was impressed with Edwin’s pitching performance though. He really pitched well after the first inning, and in all honesty, he only made two mistakes the entire game: David Ortiz’s double and Jason Bay’s home run. It would have been nice to see the Rays score at least one run on my birthday, but that was not to be. The Rays have more than made up for it the last two nights though. They went on to win the next two games in Boston in two of the most exciting games of the year.
I was extremely impressed by Fenway Park. It surpassed Yankee Stadium and now tops my list as my favorite stadium that I’ve been to. You can see my countdown of stadiums here and here. Sure, it helped that we had outstanding seats, but it would have been incredible from any seat there. The atmosphere was amazing. I was very grateful and relieved that the Boston fans were all friendly to me, even though I was there to cheer for the opposing team who was ahead of their team in the A.L. East standings in September.
What I love about Fenway is that it looks pretty much the same way that it did when Babe Ruth and Ted Williams played there. It’s like stepping into a baseball time capsule. The fans were into every single pitch and give their team an incredible amount of support. I can only wish that the Rays will have a fan base like that someday. And the Fenway Franks were unquestionably the best hot dogs that I’ve had at any baseball stadium!
I highly, highly recommend catching a game at Fenway Park if you ever have an opportunity. Whether you’re fully onboard the Red Sox band wagon or if you generally despise the team like I do, it’s truly an experience like no other in baseball!