On this day in 1912, the Boston Red Sox officially opened the doors to Fenway Park for the first time. On April 18, 2011, nearly 99 years later, I stepped foot inside the historic ballpark for my first time. Two tickets to Fenway Park: $180. Food and drinks in the ballpark: $51. Taking in almost 100 years of history from the 3rd base line: priceless! Ok, awesome opening paragraph? Check. #7 crossed off The List? Check. Now that the formal stuff is out of the way, let’s relax a little so I can tell you all about our visit to the Cape and a stop at 4 Yawkey Way.
I should have known that I was jinxing myself when I said in my Follow-Up Friday post from last week that I was not expecting smooth sailing on our drive to Cape Cod. In fact, when I referenced the song “The Cape of Storms”, it was meant in jest and not as a forecast for our Saturday night journey. I could have saved myself the disappointment by simply checking a weather report prior to our drive but instead, I chose to be oblivious to the ominous night sky and end-of-the-world-like thunder and lightning. I suppose we were spoiled from our first trip to the Cape with the kids, when both Iz and the Jakester slept soundly the whole way up. Like any experienced parent, I assumed we would be in for a similar trek this time around, right? WRONG! Instead, we were witness to the storm of the century, both outside the car and in.
For seven and a half hours, some strange combination of jet streams and baby wipes must have magnetized our car with the strongest storm cell in the sky. It was like that scene from “The Truman Show” when it starts to rain directly over him but nowhere else. We navigated through torrential rain and standing water for about 400 miles which made for less than ideal sleeping conditions, and therefore two wide awake children. As if driving through conditions better suited for a boat, while keeping two children occupied for half the night wasn’t enough fun; we also got the added bonus of Izzy’s first run-in with car sickness. So after more than seven hours of rain, wind, crying, and puke; we arrived at Jen’s Grandmother’s house for some much needed R&R.
Sunday was a bit of a haze. It felt like the day after that wedding you went to for the cousin you didn’t know you were related to. You know, the one where you took full advantage of the open bar in order to get through conversations with strangers about their kids’ sports teams. Yeah, it felt like that. So we mailed it on Sunday, letting the kids run roughshod through the house while we recovered on the couch. We hit the sack early in order to re-coup some much needed sleep and because we had to get moving early the next day in order to get into the city in time for the early 11:00am baseball game.
Monday was Patriots’ Day in Boston, a public holiday commemorating the first battles of the Revolutionary War as well as the day the famous Boston Marathon race is run, so we knew getting into the city would be tough. We left the house early, drove to a train station in Braintree, MA, and took the “T” into the city and right to the stadium. Not being familiar with the subway lines or landmarks in Boston was not a hindrance however, as the train was packed with Red Sox fans going to the game so we simply followed the pack. They led us off the train, out of the station, and within minutes we standing at the corner of the famed Yawkey Way.
There are many things about Fenway Park that make it stand out as unique among baseball stadiums. To me, the most fascinating is the building’s façade. The outside of the stadium looks like your typical city block. Shops, bars and eateries serve as a disguise like their hiding something behind their counters and storage rooms. Rising up above the buildings are the backs of bleacher seats, light fixtures, and of course, the Green Monster. If you’ve never seen it in person, let me confirm that the giant wall in left field is as big and menacing as it looks on TV.
We met up with our friends, Matt and Krissy, who live outside of Boston and were able to score the tickets for us. Thanks to a mixup with the ticket info and some tenacious bartering on Matt’s part, they were able to get much better seats than originally planned for the same price. Winning! Anyway, we met up with them outside the stadium and made our way through the turnstiles and gate entrance that looked like they had been constructed in the early 1900s, which…of course, they were. Entering the stadium’s concourse, we checked our tickets and noticed that our section required us to walk down a set of stairs to get to it, rather than up (which is typically where we sit for any event…way, way up). Walking down the ramp and into the sun-drenched stands, the field revealed itself for the first time.
My first impression was that of awe; all the history of the stadium, the team, the game of baseball itself was right there in front of me. With the exception of some tweaks here and there over the years, the field and stadium are essentially the same as they were when players like Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Carlton Fisk roamed the grass and dirt. My second impression was of how small it seemed. Being the oldest venue of any professional sports team in the country, Fenway Park doesn’t have the modern feel of most stadiums in use today. It also doesn’t have the size. Even with the addition of seats over the years, the park has a quaint feel to it. We were lucky enough to have seats only about 15 rows up from the dugout on the 3rd base side, but I would guess that almost every seat in the house rewards its occupant with a great view.
I spent the next 3 hours watching an impressive win by the Sox (as an Orioles fan, I can’t say I was thrilled), taking pictures of every corner of the stadium, and listening to fans around me debate which inning the Sox would implode. One of the best parts about the entire experience was being in a ballpark full of fans who seemed actually interested in the game. After 13 straight losing seasons for my O’s, it’s rare that the stadium is more than a quarter full so it was nice to see that baseball still matters to people.
After the game, we walked a couple of blocks over to see some of the marathon that was still in progress. As a runner, it was a definite bonus to be in the city on the day of the big race. Completing the Boston Marathon is an accomplishment that very few people will ever achieve so I congratulate all of the runners who competed. We walked the city a bit more, eventually stopping for dinner before parting ways with our friends and heading back to the Cape having checked off another list item.
Our short visit with the family came to an end on Tuesday with another relaxing day and another long drive home. Thankfully, the return trip was the complete opposite of our journey just a few days prior. Two sleeping kids, very little traffic, and minimal weather issues made for an easy trip home. It was a quick visit; normally we spend closer to a week up north, but packed with good times. Being with family is extremely important to both Jen and I, and giving the kids a chance to see their great-grandmother, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins they probably don’t know they have, is a real treat. The fact that I was able to tie in a “30 Before 30” item was just a bonus! It was a great weekend and feeling to accomplish another goal. Thanks to Matt and Krissy for joining us and helping to make it happen!
PS- Look for a series of post coming down the road that tells the stories of our trip to Italy several years back where we first met Matt and Krissy. There were so many stories from that two-week adventure to fit into one post so I’m going to spread them out. Believe me, it will be well worth your reading time.