Friday, October 18, 2013

The View from My Wheelchair: Gillette Stadium (part 3 of 3)

This is part three of my three part series about our trip to Gillette Stadium. Click here for part one or here for part two.

Still riding our high from the unbelievable Patriots victory, the four of us made our way out of the stadium and back down to the van. The next step was for me to transfer from the iBot to the Invacare chair for the ride home. This is a more difficult transfer for me than the one from the Invacare to the iBot, because the Invacare chair sits higher. Transferring uphill is difficult. Usually I can manage this transfer, but maybe 20% of the time I can’t. This was one of those times.

I had Kim grab my pants on one side and Andy grab on the other side, and on the count of three they lifted. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done. We then settled into the van, and they packed all sorts of tailgating equipment in and around me. Andy had volunteered to be the designated driver, and we started the slow trek home.

The Red Sox were playing game 2 of the American League Championship Series that evening against the Detroit Tigers in Boston. The winner of this best-of-seven will advance to the World Series. Game 1 had been ugly for the Red Sox. They managed only a single hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, and ended up losing the game by a score of 1-0. On our drive home from Gillette Stadium we turned on the radio to listen to game 2.

It was more of the same. Through five innings the Red Sox again had no hits. In the top of the sixth inning the Tigers scored four more runs to take a 5-0 lead. This was too much for us to bear. Silence would be preferable, so we turned the radio off. We should have learned a lesson from the never-say-die Patriots, right? I dozed for half an hour or 45 minutes. As I was waking up out of my stupor Andy turned the radio back on. The score was 5 – 1, Detroit. It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the Red Sox were showing a little life. That got our attention, and we resumed listening to the game.

If you’re a baseball fan then you know what happened next. With the bases loaded, the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox postseason history, David Ortiz, came to bat. In Boston he is known by the affectionate nickname of Big Papi. The Tigers countered by bringing in their best relief pitcher, called their “closer”, because he is supposed to close out a pending victory. On the very first pitch Big Papi drove the ball deep. It cleared the outfielder’s glove by inches and went over the fence for a grand slam home run. Detroit’s right fielder, Torii Hunter, had jumped so high that he flipped over the fence, literally upside down, and landed on his head in the Red Sox bullpen. He was shaken up, but stayed in the game, which was now tied 5 - 5.

Here is an iconic photo of a police officer cheering for the home run at the same time that Torii Hunter’s legs were upside down.

Although we were ecstatic about the grand slam, we wanted to see the rest of the game, not listen to it. We were still a couple of miles from our house on the drive home, so we urged Andy to step on it, so to speak.

By the time we pulled in our driveway it was the bottom of the ninth inning, the score was still tied, and the Red Sox had one base runner on. We opened the van doors and Kim and Karen scurried out, dragging equipment with them so that I would be able to get out of the van as well. Kim rushed into the house and turned on the TV. Andy helped me navigate my wheelchair out of the tight quarters of the van, and we hurried into the house.

In my living room we watched the Red Sox baserunner advance to third base. With no outs in the inning, things were looking good. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who we call Salty for obvious reasons, singled to left field. The runner scored easily from third base, and the game was over. The Red Sox had completed an incredible comeback to tie the championship series one game to one. Once again, Andy, Karen, and Kim were a 10 on a happy scale of 1 to 10. Because the view from my wheelchair was perfect this time, I was a 10 as well.

Allow me to summarize. We were upgraded to luxury accommodations at the football game and had recovered much of our original investment in tickets. We witnessed an incredible, rare comeback by the Patriots. On the way home we listened to a heroic grand slam that tied the game for the Red Sox in the playoffs, and we were able to watch the winning run score on our television. Oh, and we had outstanding food, drink, and company the entire time.

It was a good day, a very good day.


  1. You should do play-by-play for your teams! I did see the slam and winning run, but I relived it through your account. So glad your day was so fabulous. What a great day for New Englanders!!

  2. Even this not-a-sport-fan can appreciate how exciting the outcomes of the games were for you. It must have been a really good day, for sure. I'm envious that you got out and had fun with great, supportive people.

  3. Muffie, I could never be a play-by-play commentator because I run out of words way too easily!

    Webster, I'm glad that you enjoyed the stories.