Game day, October 30, 2013, finally arrived. What kind of day would it be? Would the Red Sox lose, rendering it merely an interesting trip to Boston? Or would they persevere, making it an epic day because the Red Sox had not won a World Series at home since 1918?
The media trucks encircled Fenway like Conestoga wagons surrounding settlers on the prairie (picture on right). These television networks are built to maximize revenue. Therefore, instead of playing World Series games during the warmest part of the day, which would be best for the athletes and fans in attendance, they play these games late in the evening, late in October, even in northern cities like Boston. The official start time would be 8:07 PM. Don't hate the networks for this; they are only meeting their fiduciary obligation in a capitalist economy.
One of the many gifts MS has bestowed upon me is an intolerance for extreme temperatures, of the hot or cold variety. And by extreme, I mean more than 10° either side of 70°. Temps were predicted to drop through the 40s during the game, so I bundled up like a normal person would for ice fishing. I put on flannel lined pants and long johns. I wore insulated winter boots. I had two heavy, long sleeve shirts under my winter coat. I sported my Red Sox baseball cap, but packed a knitted hat just in case. To top things off, we threw heavy mittens and a blanket in the backpack as well.
Kim dressed more like a normal person would for temperatures in the 40s.
After finally locating a parking space for the van and then walking through Boston for 25 minutes, we slipped into Fenway Park, a spot I sometimes refer to as my Happy Place. Fenway Park is a prime candidate for the surreptitious spreading of my ashes, should I ever die.
There’s nothing quite like being in my iBot wheelchair, in balance mode, in front of huge throngs of people. I’m an absolute rock star, and I eat it up. I can’t remember how many people came up to me and asked questions about the iBot. I can't recall how many comments I overheard as people spoke to one another about my wheelchair. I’ll never know how many people saw me and reacted only with stunned silence.
Our seats were in the right field bleachers, an area of the park where we hadn’t sat in several years. These are the least expensive and rowdiest seats in Fenway. There is nothing luxurious here – just loud, diehard, obnoxious, often drunken fans. In front of the bleacher seats is a walkway, and in front of the walkway are the handicapped seats and spaces. Overlooking the visitors bullpen, we enjoyed an unobstructed, if distant, view of the entire field.
I was treated roughly. The drunks walking behind me couldn’t help but bump into my wheelchair about every 30 seconds. But it was okay. I knew what I was getting myself into when I bought tickets for bleacher seats!
As we wandered around Fenway before the start of the game, I kept running through the two competing scenarios in my head. Would I leave Boston this day having experienced the ecstasy of a World Series win, or would I leave consoling myself that I still had a good time, and that the Red Sox would have another chance to win the World Series the next day. The part of my brain in charge of minimizing exposure to potential heartbreak kept pushing the second scenario, but I wasn't necessarily buying it.
There was an unspoken agreement among the 38,000 fans that night. Although we were unusually outgoing and friendly to one another, this implicit contract prevented us from mentioning the historic event we might be about to witness. But while our mouths kept the secret, our hearts betrayed the truth. You could sense, simply by making eye contact, that each one of us hoped beyond hope that we would experience something special that night, and we would be satisfied with nothing less.
Click here for part 3.
Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!
Another note: There is a website called TagOramic that displays panoramic pictures of the crowd at baseball games. I was able to progressively zoom in on our exact location. See the series of photos, below: