One of the things that I cherish most about being a city-dweller, and a city-dweller in this particular city, at my particular address, is being able to walk to the ballpark. So, for the half dozen or so games I see during any given season, I take shanks mare.
The walk to Fenway from my home is an especially pleasant one.
I generally cut through the Public Garden, beautiful any time of year, but especially when the Swan Boats are in the lagoon, and the flowers are at their resplendent best. From there, I walk up The Mall, the tree-canopied allée that runs down the middle of Comn Ave (Commonwealth Avenue to outsiders) from the Public Garden on out to the Fens. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Cool (or at least a bit cooler than pounding the pavement) – via natural air conditioning – when it’s sweltering, and dry when there’s a light rain.
The allée ends, and your back to city streets, but, as you near the ballpark, a bit before Kenmore Square, things really start livening up. The baseball crowd becomes evident, and even when the Olde Towne Team is wretched, as happens to be the case this year, there’s always a bit of pre-game excitement, aided an abetted by those hawking programs (Two dollahs hee-ah, five bucks inside; a bah-gin!) or scalping tickets.
The walk takes about a half-hour and then at the end you are, quite wonderfully, at Fenway Park and ready to watch a game.
Late Tuesday afternoon, even though I had just attended a game on Sunday with my sister Trish, niece Molly, and friend Michele – and, yes, we walked both ways – I felt the urge to once again take me out to the ball game.
Alas, the tickets that I’d seen on Stub Hub for $7.50 the day before – talk about a bah-gin – had been scooped up.
There were plenty of tickets available on the Red Sox site, but even this late in the pre-game – it was now about 6 p.m., and the game would be starting a bit after 7 p.m. – they were going to lard $7.50 in convenience fees or handling or whatever they call the surcharge for ordering on line onto a $20 ticket (lower bleachers) for the night’s game.
It being a pleasant enough evening for a walk, I decided to do something I haven’t done in years – maybe decades, even – and that is walk up to the ticket window on game day and buy my ticket in the here and now.
What with the Red Sox already E-for-Eliminated from contention, and fielding as they are a bunch of prospects, has-beens, and wannabes, I figured my chances were pretty good that I would score a ticket, even if the Red Sox are barely able to score a run.
(As we used to say in Worcester back in the day, this team stinks out loud.)
Anyway, there was line of twenty or so folks ahead of me in the ticket line, and I was easily able to get my singleton for the lower bleachers.
For a team that stinks out loud, the Red Sox are still drawing a pretty good crowd, and there weren’t a ton of empty seats. (I just checked, and the attendance is given as 37,008 out of a capacity of 37,400. I have my doubts, but it was a good crowd.)
I’m sure that some folks wanted to see a good team play – that would be the Baltimore Orioles, who should be clinching the Eastern Division title any day now. Maybe some just like baseball. And maybe some just like having the experience, absent in Boston for much of the past decade-plus, or just deciding spur of the moment to take in a game.
Anyway, because the Red Sox are such a sorry-arsed bunch, the team is apparently resorting to the sorts of gimmicks that I associate with the minor leagues and/or with franchises that can’t manage to draw good attendance.
So Tuesday night was bobble-head night, with each lucky attendee handed a Pedro Martinez bobble-head.
Now I completely adore Petey – all if forgiven for the ‘the Yankees are my daddy’ statement - and if I were a Hall of Fame voter, he’d get my vote.
But Martinez hasn’t played with the Sox since 2004 – yes, that 2004 – and, while he does have some post or other with the team, I’ve got to believe that we got the bobble-heads because some marketing assistant was rummaging around in what must be a massive swag closet and discovered 37,008 Pedro bobble-heads covered in dust.
Well, I’ve got mine.
The Red Sox being the Red Sox, and 2014 being 2014 (and decidedly not 2004 or 20013), the game was pretty much a bust.
But the seat I had was fine, the sausage sandwich tasty, and the organist even played a riff from Thunder Road.
Plus, former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk was there – who, let’s face it, is practically my boyfriend – so, as they always do when #27 is in the house, they showed his highlight reel and played Like a Rock, followed by a shot of Fisk waving to the crowd - he was actually waving to me – from the swank seats.
The young couple sitting next to me – twenty-something nouveau fans – barely knew who he was. Probably not surprising, since Fisk’s heyday was 40 years ago, well before they were born. I suppose it would be like someone sitting next to me as a game when I was a kid and asking what I knew about Smokey Joe Wood or Tris Speaker. The young guy in the couple did know enough to associate Fisk with the scene in which Our Hero waves a ball fair, hitting a crucial home run in the 1975 World Series. (Not crucial enough that the Red Sox won that Series, of course. They didn’t.)
I stayed through to the bottom of the 8th, long enough to sing Sweet Caroline and watch Big Papi whiff for the second (or was it the third) time.
It was getting late, and I wanted to enjoy that walk home.
As it was getting late, I took Newbury Street (lit and commercial) vs. Comm Ave (dark, residential and arboreal) back home.
Not very crowded – 11-ish on a Tuesday in September – but lively enough.
Fortunately, Emack and Bolio’s was still open, so I was able to get me some ice cream. (Caramel with peanut butter cup: yummy.)
Other than the Red Sox losing – that and coming back to an empty house – it was as near a perfect little urban experience as I’ve had in a long while.