I stepped inside warily, as though my body would burst into flames if I came into contact with anything there. Red. All I could see was red, surrounding me, enveloping me, suffocating me… everyone knows red socked feet shouldn’t leave footprints on a pinstriped heart. But I did it for baseball. Hashtag: respect.
Funny thing is, this trip to Boston was so last minute and hastily planned that I had all but forgotten about Fenway Park until we arrived at our room. It was nearly 11pm, I was exhausted but excited as I surveyed the awesome view from our 19th floor window. Just off to the left, there it was.
There was once a time when nothing was more important to me than baseball, especially Yankee baseball. Between the ages of nine and thirteen, I lived it and breathed it. Every night at 7:05pm, I sat down in front of the TV with my little notebook where I kept my own favorite statistics of my favorite players. DJ, Tino, Scotty, Paulie, El Duque, Moose, Sori, Knoblauch, Bernie, Jorge… When 10pm rolled around, the Yankee game was over and the rest of my family went to bed, so I would click through the DirecTV and find our Extra Innings channels, where I would decide on a west coast game to finish out my night. In the days before smart phones and data plans, it was difficult to keep up with baseball when we were on vacation. My dad and I would always try our hardest to hunt down a New York area newspaper somewhere in Orlando or Chicago or San Francisco so that I could get my stats.
Suddenly high school got in the way. I had more homework, more practices and rehearsals and meetings, more friends. Baseball slid over to the side a bit but I never lost my grip on it completely. My parents started adding baseball games to our vacation itineraries, which is how I came to see about ten different stadiums.
But as a Yankee fan, I had never set foot in Fenway. Until now. And it was worth it.
I had long heard legends about Fenway Park and have always known I would someday see it. As the oldest stadium in all of the major leagues, it is a vital piece of baseball history. Chris and I were able to walk to it from our hotel in Boston’s Back Bay area, and we were thankful that there was still room left on the 10am tour. Our guide, a lovely young lady, was informative and interesting. We started the tour by sitting down in the historic blue seats. While classic and full of history, these seats might have been the most uncomfortable I had ever sat in! I couldn’t imagine sitting through an entire game in them. The guide addressed this, saying that replacing them with larger, more modern chairs would lead to losing about 3,000 seats! And with a small capacity in the first place, Fenway needs all the seats they can get.
As for the best seats in the house? That is a toss-up between the press box and the top of the Green Monster. We did a walk-through of the press box, taking note of familiar media names and admiring the perfect view out over home plate. We had to move quickly there because it was a game day, but atop the Green Monster, we got to take our sweet time. It was such a unique view out over the diamond, not to mention a different type of chair. Rather than a traditional stadium seat, it was more of a bar stool with a small table ledge in front of you, perfect for holding your drinks or for ticking off your scorecard (am I the only one that still does that when I’m at baseball games?).
There were a couple of surprises thrown in on the tour, including a beautiful vegetable garden. That was probably one of the last things I expected to see while on a tour of a baseball stadium. One of my favorite parts of the tour was learning about the hand operated scoreboard. So historical and retro! There is even something hidden in Morse code down two of the white lines in the scoreboard- the initials of the two owners who wanted to remain a part of the stadium even after it was sold.
We learned all about the Fisk Pole, a certain foul pole in the stadium named after a player who waved a home run into fair territory back in 1975. We learned the legend of the Red Seat, where Ted Williams hit one of the longest home runs in the stadium’s history. We learned about the Curse of the Bambino, detailing Babe Ruth’s journey from Boston to New York and the ensuing 86 year World Series drought.
It couldn’t be more true, baseball history is alive and well at Fenway Park no matter who you cheer for.