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Doris Kearns Goodwin and Dan Shaughnessy have written about it. It is truly a sight unlike any other. That first glimpse you get of the grand expanse of green field and giant wall as you emerge from below the grandstand takes your breath away. I still anticipate that view when I see the Fenway Park signs on Route 93 directing us to Storrow Drive.
My first trip to Fenway was as a teenager with my parents and younger brother. It was in the late fifties, when the Red Sox didn't win much or draw many. Family night, with the wife and kids' tickets costing fifty cents when dad paid full price, brought us to a night game against Kansas City. What I remember most was the atmosphere, the wild excitement and cheering at every pitch, with so many kids present. We left before the end of the game that evening, to "beat the crowds," and trekked back across the Fens to my father's favorite parking spot by the Museum of Fine Arts.
When I went to games on my own, leaving early was not an option. I was there for the duration, win or lose. One of the most memorable games was Opening Day in 1964. We cut Physics Class at Boston State College to sit in the bleachers and watch Tony Conigliaro hit his first Fenway homer. In the 1967 Impossible Dream year, I was grateful for the opportunity to purchase a standing room ticket, seeking the perfect spot, behind home plate, to cheer for Yastrzemski and Lonborg.
Now that I am married and living in Maine, one of our family traditions since the 1980s has been our annual trip to Fenway. Our favorite area now is the left field grandstand. We especially enjoyed the nine-hour doubleheader when the Sox beat Cleveland and Albert Belle in the last home game before the 1994 strike.
With our children now grown and living on their own, the tradition continues. We begin making plans in December, coordinating our calendars so that we can purchase our tickets as soon as they go on sale. Kristen will fly in from Atlanta, while David comes from New Hampshire, and Ralph & I from Maine, to cheer for our favorite team.
Steve Brooks' Fenway Experience
I am from Seattle and came to Boston on the sole purpose of getting into Fenway Park. I got to the game about 5 hours early (the time was switched to 8:05 instead of 1:05) and just hung out outside. I didn't have any tickets; after all it was against the Yankees. I was just walking around outside when some guy comes up to me and says, "You need some tickets." I almost started crying. I was so happy. At first I never thought I was going to be able to get inside, so I would just look at the outside and hopefully catch a ball coming over the Green Monster onto Ted Williams Way. I was with my little brother and my mom, and it cost $100 bucks for three bleacher seats. But I didn't care so I shelled out the dough. Once I got inside, I did start crying, but that was because I couldn't get to the Green Monster from the bleacher seats. (And because it's the nicest park I've ever been in, including Safeco Field). So I headed for the red seat where Ted Williams hit the 502-foot homer, and got my photo taken. It was the most memorable experience I've ever had. It was good being by fans who actually know what's going on in the game, rather than Seattle fans who sit there and talk about coffee. Although the Sox got one-hit by Mike Mussina, it was still a perfect game to me!
Drewdog04's Fenway Experience
I have worked at Fenway for 12 years now. My most colorful memory was back when I was 15. My friend and I were collecting batting practice balls that made the left field seats. No fans were yet in the park. To make a long story short, Rick Cerone knocked me out cold with a ferocious line drive that I took to the jawbone!
Matt Tremblay's Fenway Experience
I'll never forget this day.
I was 7 or 8 years old and I was at Fenway with a friend and our dads. I was close enough to the Pesky Pole to spit on it. It wasn't my first game at Fenway but it's the game I like to remember the way you'd remember your first. It was special.
Being only 7 or 8 at the time I saw the game, I don't remember who was playing and I don't even remember who won. What I remember is Dwight Evans.
There was a man on second and I'm pretty sure there was an out or two. The game was definitely close. I didn't really see the swing being as short as I was back then but I remember seeing a wormburner of a hit. It touched ground for the first time as it passed the first baseman and rolled right past Dewey into the corner. Unfortunately he had been cheating a bit toward left so he didn't exactly get to the ball in record time. It felt like it was sitting in that corner only feet away for hours. Either that runner on second was the slowest runner in history or time stopped just for the Red Sox because when Evans picked up that ball he still had a chance.
I could hear him grunt when he threw it. It was the sound of a cannon being fired.
The runner never had a chance. The catcher had the ball while the runner was still a step and a half away. I don't think that toss had any arc on it whatsoever. It was the greatest throw I've ever seen in my life.
I'm sure I'll never see another like it again.
Susan's Fenway Experience
On August 26, 2002, my cousin and I walked into Fenway an hour and a half before the game started. We had collected our Nomar Bobble Head dolls at the gate, and we tucked them carefully under our arms so as not to lose them. For the duration of batting practice and 45 minutes or so afterward, we stood next to the dugout in hopes of collecting a few autographs. None were gotten, but we came within 10 feet of Jason Varitek and Nomar himself. Little did we know, the excitement was not even close to starting.
In the first inning, John Burkett rendered the Angels scoreless, but the scoreboard didn't stay at zeros for long, as Manny Ramirez came up to hit his 300th career home run in the bottom of the inning. (I also saw Sammy Sosa's 300th career home run in 1999 at Wrigley Field.) The game wasn't too well played, with the Sox making four errors, but they managed to keep the score at 5-5 going into the seventh. In the eighth, everything fell apart. The Angels rallied for hit after hit, and when the third out finally happened, it was 9-5 in the Angels' favor. At this point, we moved from out right field box seats down to some loge box seats right above the visitor's dugout, where we had a great view of the batters. Nothing of note happened until the bottom of the ninth. Finally, the Red Sox put some runners on base and made the Angels nervous, so they brought in Troy Percival. With Manny on second and Cliff Floyd on first, Shea Hillenbrand smacked one of Percy's offerings into left field for a base hit. Percy couldn't get the control that he wanted, and with the score 9-7, Hillenbrand on first, Henderson at second, and two outs, Rey Sanchez lofted one to right to score both runners. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but that was fine, because the game was tied, and we were all screaming ourselves hoarse! Oogy Urbina pitched a shutout 10th, and we decided that we would stay for as long as the game required. We wouldn't have to wait much longer.
Johnny Damon led off the 10th for the Sox. He fouled off one pitch... then another... then another... so many that we lost count. We were starting to think he might never make good contact when suddenly, he hit the ball hard to right. Alex Ochoa was on the run, trying to catch the ball, which was still going... into the right field stands! The Red Sox had gotten their only comeback win of the year that wasn't against Tampa Bay, and we were there to see it! That was a game we will never forget.
John Hendon's Fenway Experience
I am from Atlanta, Georgia, and have been a Red Sox fan since infancy. This spring I got to stay in Massachusetts for several months as a member of the USAF Reserves.
When I got to go to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park, I was extremely excited. When I first stepped into the park my breath was taken away. It was like heaven on earth. Suddenly memories of my childhood of playing ball with my dad came rushing into my mind. It was overwhelming. I will take that memory to my death bed.
Pablo DaSilva's Fenway Experience
I was 7 years old when my father surprised me one early summer day with two tickets to Fenway Park for the following month. I was so excited. I couldn't believe I was going to go to Fenway. Though I lived in Boston only about 7 miles from Fenway, the steep ticket prices of about $3 for bleacher seats were a lot for my family, and this was my parents' reward for doing well in school that year. My first game was actually a scheduled doubleheader, against the Toronto Blue Jays. The date was June 23, 1984, and I remember not being able to sleep the night before. We took the T from our home in Hyde Park and arrived at Fenway and had a Fenway Frank and popcorn. I remember being amazed at how big the stadium was (even though I later learned how small it was compared to the rest of the big leagues). The games were uneventful, and the Sox lost both games, but I do remember seeing Tony Armas hitting a home run. I bought a yearbook and I remember memorizing the stats of all the starters. Since my family was not rich, I didn't get to see a lot of games at Fenway.
My next game was a rainy, miserable loss with Bruce Hurst pitching againt Candiotti to the California Angels in July 1986 (playoff preview), and I saw my first night game and win in a game against the Oakland A's in September of that year. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd pitched a great game and this was only a few weeks before the Sox clinched the American League East. I thought being in the skybox seats (which were very pricey, around $9) at Fenway, watching them win, on a school night was Heaven!! I saw a few games over the next few seasons, including the family joke of May 2, 1988... when our car broke down on the way there! We took the T the rest of the way. The Sox lost, it was about 35 degrees with windswept rain, and my mom felt sick. My last childhood visit to Fenway was in spring, 1989... a game which was called after a 2 and a haf hour rain delay.
Two months later, I moved to Columbus, Ohio. I visited Fenway again on a trip home in spring of 1999, but it was still only March and I just wanted to see about tickets. My most recent game at Fenway was a great game against the Oakland A's when my wife of a month, our stepson, and my parents and I took a vacation to my hometown on September 5, 2000. We scored 7 runs in the 1st inning and won. I hope to get to another game at Fenway either this season or next, but I may have to take out a loan to do it. Go Sox!!!
Tyler Sanborn's Fenway Experience
My experience was probably about the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am not a good writer so I will try to sum this up as much as I can. When I first got to Boston I had no idea what to expect. I was so excited. We went shopping that night. We got lost for about an hour. When we got back to our hotel I was so tired. It was good though because otherwise I would not have gotten to sleep. The next day we went to the Fenway tour. I just about passed out from excitement. After the tour was over we went to the game. The Red Sox were playing the Royals. Our seats were next to Pesky's Pole! I caught a ball during BP!!!! The Royals got ahead. But when Manny jacked a home run the game was over.
Lou DiFilippo's Fenway Experience
It is difficult to write a letter like this one because it deals with elements of emotion, history and tradition more than logic. I am referring to our beloved Fenway Park. I'm all in favor of progress... But there are some things that transcend so-called progress.
My father took me to my first Red Sox game in 1957. It was against the Chicago White Sox, and Boston won 8-5. It was a day I'll never forget. Even as a child, I could sense the intimacy of Fenway, being so close to the field and to the players. I remember being so close to Ted Williams when he was in the on-deck circle that I could almost reach out and touch him. Six years ago I took my son to his first game at Fenway and could see that same exhilaration in his eyes.
How can we not look out into left field without flashbacks of Ted and Yaz, who owned that sacred ground for a part of six decades? Who will ever forget the classic shot of Carlton Fisk in Game Six of the 1975 World Series literally willing the ball into the net above the Green Monster for a Red Sox win?
How could anyone even entertain the prospect of the Red Sox playing anywhere else than Fenway? This classic landmark is part of our lives and part of our nation... It's simple, functional, and most of all, fan friendly.
So to the Red Sox ownership, this is a heart-felt plea to keep the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Please explore other enhancement initiatives to the existing structure, and let's not desecrate this part of Americana revered by all as the home of the Boston Red Sox.
John Eckert's Fenway Experience
It was an August 1969 trip with my father and uncle to see the Sox play the California Angels. My jaw dropped the first time I walked through the entrance to the ball park. It was an incredible sight. During warm-ups Sparky Lyle threw a ball up into the stands which I caught and had autographed by him. Unfortunately, that ball has been lost over the years. The first game was a continuation of the previous night's (it had rained, if I remember, and the score was tied in the late innings) and Hawk Harrelson bombed a grand slam for the win. Unfortunately, they lost the regular game. I have gone every year since, and each trip to Fenway is still special, even if sitting in Section 2 and having to endure a sore neck from turning it so far to see the action.
George A. Sabo III's Fenway Experience
Fenway Park is the reason I became a Red Sox fan. Well, Yaz, Fisk and Dewey Evans helped, but Fenway put them in focus. I come from the Mason-Dixon line of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry: Southeast Connecticut. No one quite knows how it happens, the choice that is; but once it's made, it cannot be withdrawn. It's not like Southie or the Bronx where you are born into it. As a young boy or girl in my neck of the woods, you must choose. In most cases, families are divided, Dad vs. Mom, Grandpa vs. Favorite Uncle So&So... your choice is not an easy one. Those who cannot stand the heat of this decision take the National League cop-out and become Mets fans. For those who are up to it, the hard choice is made and the line is crossed from innocent neutrality to battle-ready fandom. The training wheels are off and you ride off not knowing where your team will take you.
In my case, it was an excruciatingly difficult decision. Dad or Mom? Grandpa or Papa Joe? Munson or Fisk? Yaz or Nettles? Lyle or Drago?..... As it turned out, the deciding factor was Fenway Park. I was so fond of watching the Red Sox playing in Fenway that I couldn't imagine not having... that. To this day I cannot explain what that is, but I feel that that is a major component of my Red Sox Soul.
My thoughts now regarding the fate of Fenway are as you might guess heavily biased toward Restoration and Expansion on the current site. Although the Red Sox' plan for a New Stadium is an appealing one, I believe that the renovation/expansion proposal provides the Red Sox with the revenue streams that they need to stay competitive while providing the fans with needed legroom, better sight lines, state of the art concessions and ample (Pike air rights) parking. The Red Sox tell us ad nauseum that renovation is "fiscally and structurally" not feasible. Yet, they give no hard evidence to the contrary. They simply refuse to allow a thourough public comparison to be made of the two plans. Meanwhile, they are prepared to ask the public to fund at least $100 million, perhaps twice that, to pay for their new stadium plan. Having the city/state pick up the tab for the adjacent land required would allow the Red Sox to sell their Fenway/Kenmore holding for a killing. Why not just give the same amount of public support to the Red Sox and follow the renovation plans as previously put forward by the BRA and most recently offered by Save Fenway Park. Having put men on the moon, Fenway Park Restoration and Expansion on its current site is certainly within our technical capabilities, despite John Harrington's protestations to the contrary.
A successfully renovated Fenway Park would at once become the best of baseball. We would have a true combination of charm and history with modern amenities and revenue generating capabilities, not a Disney-esque replication of it. We would hold on to the original, albeit modified just as today's Fenway is a modified version of the 1912 original. We would have the original Fenway Park, not a Camden Yards-Boston and the strip mall mentality such a creation would represent. Just imagine stretching in your comfy new seat, eating a sushi burger and watching the game where the game was once played by Smokey Joe Wood, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Teddy Ballgame, Joltin' Joe... Yaz, Tony C., Spaceman, Fisk, The Rocket, Nomar and Pedro... etc., etc., ad infinitum... Restoration will give you this, and it can be done, of course it can, this isn't Fermat's Last Theorem, this is Fenway's Last Chance. Don't let John Harrington and the Red Sox PR spinmeisters tell you otherwise. Don't let them take that away.
Bill Walsh's Fenway Experience
I received an early 9th birthday present from my father; I was going to my first Red Sox game. The date August 27, 1977. The opponent Minnesota. The year of Rod Carew's quest for .400. It seemed to take forever going from western Massachusetts. A bright and sunny day and we had lower box seats 2 rows off the field, up the first base line just before the foul pole. In batting practice Carew hits a ball that lands in the row in front of me.
Bill Lee vs Dave Johnson.
The one thing that I remember plain as day was that when Lee was yanked in the 7th, He had an argument with Zimmer in the dugout. We could see it from our seats. In one of the newer Sox hardcover books that have come out in the last 2 years one of them has a picture of this in it. My Dad kept score for me and I still have the program. That's why I know the lineups. The other thing that I remember was that ugly baseball cap golf cart that the relief pitchers came in on. That cart was in style then. After all it was the 70's. The same cart has been in the Twins shop across the street from Fenway. After going to some 80+ games over the past 23 years this is still one of my favorites.
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