…Wrigley Field would be its epicenter. That said, Fenway Park wouldn’t be terribly far behind. I’ve been to a game at Wrigley. In 1993, my parents loaded the four of us kids into a midget van and we drove around the United States of America for thirty days. We were in Cooperstown, New York–home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame–on induction day when Reggie Jackson was inducted into the Hall. And we caught a game at Wrigley Field on our swing back from the east coast.
I have a dream… not that all men be treated equal (although, that’s a darn good dream), but to visit every baseball park in Major League Baseball. And the big three have always been Wrigley, Fenway, and Yankee Stadium. I still plan to attend a game at Yankee Stadium, but I’m completely bummed that I didn’t get there before they tore down the original. The “house that Ruth built” is no more. As such, Wrigley and Fenway are the last of the classic ballparks. This year, I made it to Fenway. More precisely, I went on my birthday whilst traipsing up the east coast visiting everything I possibly could.
For the record, I couldn’t back up and get the Fenway sign in the photo due to the swarms of people who kept darting in front of me and were taking photos behind me. ‘Tis what it is, right? You adapt and compromise. Don’t worry, I got plenty of shots to satisfy my shutterbug tendencies. The “Teammates” statue greets you when you enter the stadium at Gate B. Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom Dimaggio (Joe’s little brother). They played together for seven seasons, remaining friends for the rest of their lives. All four served in World War II and led the team to numerous victories and an American League Pennant, but more importantly, remained friends. What a lovely tribute.
When you enter Gate B (as we did), you are greeted with sights reminiscent of a bygone era. Painted crossbeams point you toward various concessions, bathrooms, and anything else you might be in search of at a ballpark. As you can see in the photograph at the start, awnings stretch over the concession stands, shading the customers at the counter as they retrieve their hot dogs and such. Yes, I enjoyed a hot dog. Baseball without a hot dog is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And the one time in my life I didn’t eat a hot dog at a game, it was completely weird! The BoSox serve up a pretty tasty hot dog, too. And that’s all I consumed at the game. I’ve never been much of a nachos girl. Sometimes I’ll have an ice cream sandwich, but I really don’t need more than a hot dog and some water (since I don’t drink soda anymore).
Dan took me into the right field bleachers where you can see the red seat. Every seat in the stadium is green… except one. The red seat in the right field bleachers signifies the longest homerun ever hit here. Fortuitously, it was hit by the most beloved player in Red Sox history, the legendary Ted Williams. On June 9, 1946, Williams cranked the ball 502 feet, hitting the gentleman sitting in this seat. It’s been estimated that had there been no obstructions, it would’ve traveled 535 feet. In honor of this blast, the seat is red. Standing below, I watched a string of men walk up to the seat, look at it reverently, then cautiously and gingerly lower themselves into it, and gaze out at the stadium with a look of sheer bliss. If I didn’t understand, I would’ve thought it ridiculous.
From our vantage point above the bull pen, I had an unobstructed view of the Green Monster. Every fan of baseball is familiar with the Green Monster. The stadium was built in a congested area and was designed asymmetrically. The wall, or Green Monster as it’s affectionately known, is 37.167 feet tall. Left fielders have to know how to play a fly ball off of the wall or a hitter can easily stretch a single to a double or double to a triple. From one end to the other, the wall is 310 to 315 feet from home plate… a very short distance in baseball terms. In 1999, Fenway Park hosted the All Star Game and St. Louis Cardinals‘ Mark McGwire memorably competed in the Home Run Derby and launched a fair number of balls over the wall (he ended up hitting more than anyone else in the tournament, but not in the third round and lost–the rules weren’t changed to take a combined total until after the Derby in 2008 when Texas Rangers‘ Josh Hamilton put on a show the likes of which haven’t been seen before or since).
After looking my fill from the bleachers, we made our way up to the Right Field Roof where our seats were located. With the exception of home runs hit to the right field corner, it’s a great place to watch a game at Fenway. From these seats, we had a bird’s eye view of the LED board in centerfield. I shot a picture of it prior to the game to commemorate the fact I was inside the stadium on my birthday. April 14. Done. (The Dunkin’ Donuts sign to the right makes me smile… you can’t go anywhere in Boston without passing one of these. No joke. They’re everywhere.) As you can see, the BoSox were hosting the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly the Tampa Bay Devil Rays… still don’t understand the name change). We arrived at the stadium an hour before the game started so I had plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds prior to the game commencing. As it should be, I might add.
Also celebrating his birthday was Bill Hogan II. Unlike me, he was celebrating his 100th birthday. Mr. Hogan was born six days before the first game was played at Fenway. He’s an impressive man and was joined on the field by Bill Hogan III, Bill Hogan IV, and Bill Hogan V. Many of his family were in the stands for the moment, coming in from out of state to enjoy the celebration. Pretty awesome. No one could remember a time when someone threw out a second first pitch, but are you really going to argue with a man on his 100th birthday?! Whereas his first toss bounced before the plate, his second made it all the way to the catcher. Well done, Bill. I hope to be as spry when I’m 100.
Well, that’s enough for one day… I’ll write more about my birthday adventures in Fenway later. Enjoy your Sunday!