Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Going to Fenway Park

Even though I was only a young boy, by the time I attended my first game at Fenway Park I was already a devoted and well-informed Red Sox fan. When I initially laid eyes on the lush green grass, the rich, brown infield dirt, and the imposing Green Monster wall in left field, it was so much more impressive than I had imagined it would be. If only I could say as much about the performance of the team each year.

To this day, that awestruck child in me comes out every time I visit Fenway Park, and for that I am grateful. Although this is baseball’s oldest venue, opened in 1912, they’ve added many improvements over the years, and I find it to be a generally wheelchair accessible ballpark.

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the special phone number that I can call for wheelchair accessible seating, and scored us a couple of tickets for game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 5. The accessible ticket phone number allows me to obtain seats to games that are otherwise sold out already.

Because Fenway Park is in the center of Boston, and was built so long ago, there is no stadium-owned parking to speak of. Instead there’s a mishmash of on-street parking, parking garages, and private parking lots. The typical price per vehicle is about $40. We noticed that at this playoff game several vendors raised their prices to $60. However, handicapped parking spaces are free. We have a mental map of approximately 20 such spaces scattered around the Fenway neighborhood. We follow a route each time that begins at our most desirable and ends at our least desirable handicapped space. It’s been a long time since we have been completely shut out, and we weren’t on this day. We claimed one of our favorite spaces on Commonwealth Avenue. Although it is a 10 minute walk to the ballpark, this location affords us a clean escape from the traffic when the game is over.

Kim and I had arrived early in Boston so that we could have lunch with our friend Randi. We chose a well-regarded restaurant near Fenway called Eastern Standard. After a delicious meal and an enjoyable visit, Kim and I walked over to the park.

Once we passed through the turnstiles into Fenway Park, we spent some just outside on a street called Yawkey Way. The Red Sox close Yawkey Way to traffic before each game, and it is transformed into a unique carnival atmosphere for ticket holders. There are vendors, musicians, and even a guy on stilts. It’s great people watching for me, and it’s great iBot watching for everybody else. Of course, I take my iBot when I go to Fenway, and folks can’t stop staring at me in balance mode, and I eat it up. I don’t hear every comment they make to one another as I pass by, but Kim often picks up little nuggets and fills me in.

I keep a spreadsheet (I wish I had a nickel for every time I started a sentence with those words) that lists all of the handicapped seats in Fenway Park of which I am aware. For each seat I have recorded information about the advantages and disadvantages of that location. I take into account the seats’ proximity to accessible bathrooms and food concessions, and whether the seats are under cover or exposed to the weather. I consider the quality of the view. Of course I also take into account the different prices of each seating option. So, whenever I call the ticket office I have my spreadsheet up on my computer screen ready for immediate consultation.

This was game 2 of a best of 5 series with Tampa Bay. Boston had won the previous night by the lopsided score of 12 to 2. The game we attended was another rousing victory for the Red Sox, winning by a score of 7 to 4. Highlights included two home runs by our favorite, and oldest slugger, David Ortiz. The intensity at postseason games is palpable. Every strike, every out, and especially every home run is met with thunderous approval. Goosebumps appear on arms; shivers travel up spines.

In the middle of the eighth inning at every Red Sox game in Fenway Park all 37,000 or so people come together to sing Neil Diamond’s hit Sweet Caroline. On days when the Red Sox are losing it provides some consolation. On beautiful summer evenings, it confirms our love of the game. In postseason games that the Red Sox are winning, it can make you at least temporarily believe that all is right with the world, and maybe, just for that moment, it is. Kim captured some of Saturday’s rendition on her iPhone. (If you’re viewing this through an email you may need to click on this link.)

As a dedicated Red Sox fan, I must admit that the satisfaction I gain from watching the Red Sox is at least partially dependent on the outcome of the game. I always have a good time at Fenway, but I have a better time when they win. This is not all that different from attending a play at your local theater. The act of dressing up and going out with wonderful people almost guarantees a certain level of enjoyment, but if the writing and acting is superior, and the play ends in a way that is satisfying – all the better.

There are so many things that I can’t do anymore, but going to Red Sox games is something I can do, arguably, even better than I used to. I say this because of my ability to obtain tickets to almost any game and my knack for securing free parking. So this is an activity we intend to partake of for years to come, money permitting, at least during seasons when they’re not horrible. They are rarely horrible.

Below are some pictures from trips to Fenway in previous years. Click on any of these pictures, or the pictures above, to see an enlarged version.


  1. Just wanted to say that I loved the post--and it reminded me of the one time I got to a game at Wrigley Field, which was built just two years after Fenway and I think they have much in common. Now those are two proper ballfields!

    You can imagine my dismay when I moved to Minnesota and attended a Twins Game at the indoor Viking Stadium.
    Nosebleed section doesn't even begin to describe where we were sitting--an entire football field's length away and a weird, tinny and very muffled sound from the crowd. How I missed that rolling wave of noise that I had heard at Wrigley and even out in the boondocks of Montana, sitting on a straight row of bleachers next to a packed dirt diamond where the sticks league played.
    Ah, but I digress....

    The other thing I wondered was how far a drive it is from where you are in Maine to Boston? You east-coasters dash about between states in ways that we out here in the midwest just cannot fathom!
    Thanks Mitch!

  2. First, my apologies to anyone who tried to leave a comment in the last few days and was unable to. I've been getting a lot of spam comments lately, and I thought if I shut off the comment capability for a few days they might clear up. We shall see. I meant to turn the comments back on last night, but of course I forgot to.

    Daphne, I'm glad that you loved the post. I've never had the pleasure of going to Wrigley Field, but my wife was there a couple of years ago and she appreciated its history.

    That Twins dome was about as ugly as it gets for baseball. I'm sure Minnesota fans are very pleased with their new baseball stadium.

    Here in the Portland Maine area, it's a little less than a 2 hour drive to Boston– piece of cake.