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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Monday, November 20, 2017

End of an Era

OK, up front let me give the disclosure that this is a fairly personal post.  After 17 seasons my father and I have made the decision to give up our season tickets.  The short version is that at the respective stages of our lives (him retired, me trying to get there) and the challenges that have come with StubHub and Red Sox Replay have just made the finances tougher to work.

We had talked about it a lot the last few weeks and while I am OK with the decision I have to confess to a sense of maudlinness.  Like many of you a lot of me is wrapped up in being a Red Sox fan and being a Red Sox Season Ticket Holder from the age of 30 to the age of 47 has been pretty cool.  I still remember walking around an empty Fenway Park in December of 2000 with a season ticket rep pointing out where we wanted to sit, then racing across Boston the next month to write the biggest check I’d ever written. 

It turned out to be a special era in Boston sports, especially for the Red Sox.  So to look back at this amazing time in my life I thought I’d take a break from the pants pissing and moaning we (read: “I”) do at 17 amazing moments I got to see in person;

17 - “51” - For an organization built around the long ball the Sox have never really had those super massive slugging numbers.  I got to be in Fenway that day late in the disappointing 2006 season when David Ortiz slammed a Johan Santana pitch over the bullpen to set the new single season club record.

16 - “I Think Millar’s Drunk” - My friend was right but seeing the oldest active professional stadium turn 100 years old was pretty cool.  The best part was that Nick Esasky’s family was sitting next to us and we got to chat with him and get some pictures after the game.

15 - “What are you rooting for?” “I don’t know” - That’s the conversation a buddy and I had on Sunday September 2, 2001.  Mike Mussina was looking for a perfect game and Carl Everett was trying to spoil it. I honestly don’t know if I was yelling for Everett to get the hit or for Moose to get the perfecto.

14 - “Let the love affair begin” - What a start.  We had our seats and we had a new outfielder.  Manny Ramirez made his presence felt by slamming the first pitch he saw to the Mass Pike on Opening Day 2001.  Sean McDonough’s words maybe never quite came true but whatever anyone else said, I always loved Manny.

13 - “That guy was jumping on his chair” - The guy who had the seats next to us for the first 16 years is an incredibly kind but reserved fellow.  When Trot Nixon took Rich Harden deep to win game three of the 2003 ALDS Joe was jumping up and down on his chair in celebration.

12 - “I think he is surprised at the seats” - I’ll never forget that first game in 2003 when Manny Ramirez spent the first two innings constantly swiveling around and looking at the brand new seats atop the Monster.  The work the Henry group has done to the ballpark over the years has been amazing.

11 - “The right fielder is too shallow” - My father was prophetic.  He uttered that phrase just seconds before J.D. Drew rifled a line drive over the right fielder’s head for a walk off double in the second biggest comeback in post-season history as the Sox overcame a 7-0 deficit to defeat Tampa in game 5 of the 2008 ALCS>

10 - “I got caught with my dick in my hand” - My poor brother.  Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS was as intense and wild a game as I any I ever saw.  Where was my brother when Roger came high and “inside” to Manny and it all went crazy? Poor guy was in the men’s room. That quote ishow he described it to a friend at work the next day.

9 - “YEEEEEAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!” - I can’t say for certain that is EXACTLY what I said as Big Papi slammed Jarrod Washburn’s delivery into the Monster seatsOrtiz walk off Angels

8 - “DAVID ORTIZ DAVID ORTIZ DAVID ORTIZ” - I still cannot quite come to grips with this one.  The Sox needed David Ortiz to hit a grand slam there.  That was about the only way they would win that game and in the long run the series and he did it.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked the Sox off shortly after and the party was on.

7 - “We are going to the World Series!” - That was my immediate response to Shane Victorino’s grand slam in 2013 against the Tigers. Suddenly a game that had felt lost had the Sox on the cusp of a third World Series berth in a decade.  What a decade!!!

6 - $14 million grand slam - Of all the things that have ever happened at Fenway the response to J.D. Drew’s grand slam was like nothing I experienced before or since.  It wasn’t the noise level but it was the spastic nature of the response.  The old yard just went crazy.  Everything was a blur for several moments afterwards.

5 - “Get ready for the best Sweet Caroline You’ve Ever Heard” - That’s what I said to my mother (a huge Neil Diamond fan) before the bottom of the 8th in 2007.  With the Sox leading 5-2 and 3 outs from a second pennant in four years we sang our hearts out then roared as the Sox dropped six more runs on the Tribe to put the game to bed.  A game seven at Fenway Park, how cool is that?

3(tie) “Whatever happens I’m glad that guy had to shove that cigar up his ass.”
3(tie) “Sox in seven” CLAP-CLAP-CLAPCLAPCLAP
— I am often asked what the best game I ever saw was.  The answer is a 26 inning, 28 hour affair that started on October 17, 2004 and ended at 11PM on October 18.  It started with a Yankee fan lighting a cigar before the ninth inning of game four and my brother uttering the above words after the dramatic comeback.  It ended with the Sox doing it again the next night and as my mother and I pranced onto Landsdowne Street the chant of “SOX In SEVEN” followed by a rhythmic clap.

2 - “OK guys, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here” - As Matt Carpenter stepped in I screamed at the top of my lungs, pleading with Koji Uehara to record the final out and see THE RED SOX WIN A WORLD SERIES AT FENWAY PARK!!!!  It happened and oh man did we lose our minds.  It’s a good night when a Fenway security guard has to tell you it’s time to leave.

Honorable Mentions - Before I get to number one a few things that belong on the list but I just don’t have room which sums it all up really;
- all the great players on other teams I saw regularly, especially seeing Barr Bonds homer in person
- Jed Lowrie’s walkoff hit in the 2008 ALDS
- David Ortiz’ game winning double in the 2008 ALDS
- Manny Ramirez’ return to Fenway
- Derek Jeter’s final MLB game
- Having Koji and Tazawa spray me with champagne after winning the division in 2013
- The entire celebration around David Ortiz’ retirement
- Probably a bunch of other stuff I can’t think of

1 - It Happened - The moment we all wanted.  I can’t think of a quote because the whole day is a blur.  April 11, 2005, I watched the Boston Red Sox raise a World Series championship banner at Fenway Park.  I mean are you kidding me?  Everything I ever wanted as a fan and I got to see it, in person.

I am a truly lucky man.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: November 20, 2017 at 10:13 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Morton's Fork Posted: November 21, 2017 at 06:09 AM (#5579231)
All things must pass.

I should think that, for a writer, the only way to deal with a bardo like this is to write about it. 30 to 47 is a significant era in any person's life; that you and the Sox and your family could resonate together during the course of yours is a rare gift deserving of gratitude. Pretty cool indeed. You get that, and you get the delicate relationship between loving a team and loving a game, and you share it with us. Thanks, man.
   2. villageidiom Posted: November 21, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5579257)
My ticket plan overlapped with you for most of that time, starting one year earlier and ending three years earlier. I know the feeling. You'll think you're over it, and then the home opener happens without you. Then you're over it again, and the playoffs start. But you'll get over it.

I was there for 14 of your 17 and several of your honorable mentions. You weren't there for Lowe or Buchholz no-hitters? I missed both.

I will always remember Manny's HR that hit the lights, Pokey's ITPHR, Mookie stealing 2B then immediately proceeding to 3B because of the shift*, and so much Pedro. I'll remember the guy in front of me chewing me out for not doing a rally cap late in 2004 ALCS game 5. ("They don't need my help," I told him. They didn't.) I'll remember seeing Kapler (wearing #19) and Damon (#18) standing next to each other in the outfield during a pitching change in the playoffs before the curse was broken, inadvertently flashing a 1918 at the bleachers. The ring ceremony in 2005, Lowe arranging with the Dodgers to be there, and the team awarding rings in reverse order of tenure with the team (thus revealing at the end that Johnny Pesky was getting a ring).
   3. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: November 21, 2017 at 08:52 AM (#5579260)
Despite all the no hitters in this era I have never seen one in person. That Pokey ITPHR was awesome, didn't he hit one into the monster seats an inning later too?
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: November 21, 2017 at 09:52 AM (#5579283)
Jose, if you ever need tips on getting tickets, let me know.
   5. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: November 21, 2017 at 09:58 AM (#5579289)
Thanks. I've gotten pretty adept with StubHub in recent years. That's a big part of the issue here is it is now so easy to get tickets when I want them that there is no rush to write a $9,000 check today.
   6. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: November 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5579382)
Thanks for the post Jose, it's fun to reminisce and remember that the Sox have been pretty darn good these past few years.
   7. jmurph Posted: November 21, 2017 at 02:52 PM (#5579594)
Wow, that's quite a run (both for you guys in person, and generally for us as fans).

My best in-person experience was Pedro-Clemens in the 99 ALCS. I haven't been to a game at Fenway since... 2001 I think, and I'd like to think my time away is at least partially responsible for all of their recent success.
   8. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: November 21, 2017 at 04:42 PM (#5579720)

My best in-person experience was Pedro-Clemens in the 99 ALCS.


That was pure insanity. I still have the scorebook from that one framed. Attendance was 33,410 or something like that but I will swear to my dying day that there were 40,000 people there that day. Moving around the ballpark was virtually impossible.
   9. jmurph Posted: November 21, 2017 at 04:54 PM (#5579741)
That was pure insanity.

One of the rare moments in sports in which everyone (roughly) in attendance wanted a very specific thing to happen, and that very specific thing happened. I remember knowing full well the Sox would lose the series, and being okay with that, as long as they got to Clemens.

Clearly our expectations/standards for success were a little different then!
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: November 21, 2017 at 04:57 PM (#5579745)
My best in-person experience was Pedro-Clemens in the 99 ALCS.

That was pure insanity. I still have the scorebook from that one framed. Attendance was 33,410 or something like that but I will swear to my dying day that there were 40,000 people there that day. Moving around the ballpark was virtually impossible.
Pedro-Clemens in the ALCS 4 years later was the only time I got into the park without a ticket; that game was likely over-attended in a similar way.
   11. Famous Original Joe C Posted: November 30, 2017 at 10:43 AM (#5583288)
Jose, thanks for sharing all this. What a run!

I worked for the big evil concession company at Fenway from 2002-04 as an accountant (started as internship for '02 season and I stayed until I went to grad school in (doh!) August '04 - I was a Stats major but who could resist working at Fenway?)

In 2003 our offices were on the 5th floor behind the press box - so as long as I was discreet and quiet I could stand next to the rows of writers and watch an inning or two from time to time. The rule in the press box was always no cheering, no loud activity, it's like an office. Only time I ever saw that broken was during that game. You would have had a more muted reaction from the press corps if Grady Little announced the ghost of Ted Williams as a pinch hitter, then the ghost actually came on the field to hit. Not only was there the Posada/Manny thing, and the Pedro/Zimmer thing, but remember Karim Garcia in the 9th got into a fight with fans IIRC too (leading to the timeless Pedro quote). My other most ingrained memory from that job was coming into work on the day after Boone and seeing the World Series logo painted on the field behind home plate as I walked to my desk. Feels like 100 years ago now.

My best in-person experience was Pedro-Clemens in the 99 ALCS.


I didn't attend this game, but I was a freshman at BU at the time and remember walking up to the stadium anyway pregame just to be around the crowd (before going back to watch on my 13" TV in my dorm alone because I was too nervous to watch with anyone). It was such a beautiful day and there was so much energy in that crowd as people were heading in to the game - and to jmurph's great point above, it was all directed in one place and somehow that all just played out exactly as one would have hoped. The rest of that series was various forms of torture, but man, I will never forget that beautiful Saturday afternoon in Kenmore Square.
   12. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: November 30, 2017 at 10:53 AM (#5583299)
Joe C - Wow. Did you know Curtis Teets (think that was his first name)? He was in HR for BECC over there. I worked for the same company at BU, his then finacee worked with me. We sent a few folks over to help out during the 2003 playoffs and my Marketing Manager was working the Oakland owners' box during game three. He said then went ####### ballistic during the whole Miguel Tejada interference play smashing glasses and generally losing their ####.
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: November 30, 2017 at 10:53 AM (#5583300)
Lifelong Red Sox fan here who never lived in New England. The closest I ever got to Fenway was a Rangers - Red Sox game while I was in town that got cancelled by the 1994 strike. Still have my ticket, but I'd have much rather seen the game. Thanks for sharing your memories, Jose, vi, et al.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: November 30, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5583302)

I didn't attend this game, but I was a freshman at BU at the time and remember walking up to the stadium anyway pregame just to be around the crowd (before going back to watch on my 13" TV in my dorm alone because I was too nervous to watch with anyone).
This reminds me of my brother talking about the '03 ALCS at BC. In a cruel irony for being so close to Fenway, there were more Yankee fans around on campus. Possibly it was the same for you.
   15. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 06, 2017 at 06:16 AM (#5587026)
Joe C - Wow. Did you know Curtis Teets (think that was his first name)? He was in HR for BECC over there.


Yes! You got the name right. He started the same year I did. Super nice guy. The first year I worked there, he sat diagonally from me in the tiny offices behind the home plate concourse. IIRC, he listened to a lot of KISS 108. He had a tough job there - the guy before him wasn't really an HR person and was maybe less than professional in some ways, to put it one way. That's so funny - small world!

I didn't know that about the A's box during that game! Good stuff.

This reminds me of my brother talking about the '03 ALCS at BC. In a cruel irony for being so close to Fenway, there were more Yankee fans around on campus. Possibly it was the same for you.


Yep, it was pretty unbearable in moments - and BU had/has a larger NY contigent than BC I'd guess (just a guess). Anyway, yeah, I watched game 4 of that series at Warren Towers, the massive undergrad dorm on Comm. Ave. If I recall, the Yankees started pulling away late after a close start, and so I decided I was done watching that before the game ended and headed out. Still remember waiting for the B line and you could audibly hear the cheering out the windows of the dorm from all the Yankee fans.

God, that was a frustrating series in '99. The better team did win, but between the bad calls, the Red Sox holding leads in each of the 1st four games (and leads in the 7th in games 1 and 2), Rod Beck's 84 MPH meatball to Bernie Williams, blown opportunities against El Duque in game 5.....ugh. Thankfully the ensuing 18 seasons (18! Damn.) have eased the pain considerably.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: December 06, 2017 at 09:00 AM (#5587064)
Funny story about Curtis and his fiancee (Linda). When they got engaged one of our co-workers asked if she was going to change her name since his name is not exactly ideal for a woman. She laughed and said that Curtis' dad told her that it was required saying "if we're stuck with it so are you."

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