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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Fenway Experience

This isn’t really about the Sox as much as it is about going to Fenway Park.  I have had the good fortune to have season tickets for the last seventeen years and there has never been a time when I regretted it.  Fenway has its flaws but there are very few, if any, places I would rather be on a nice summer evening than the self-proclaimed “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” (I don’t know how to add a little trademark symbol there). 

Anyway, last night I went to the game on what was a close to perfect evening weather-wise.  It was warm but not stifling with a light breeze to make things comfortable.  I was flying solo last night (school nights can be tricky to get a friend) so I had a bit of space to spread out.  This proved useful as I found myself quickly making friends.  Behind me was an Oriole fan up from DC for a business trip so he too was on his own.  He was knowledgeable and pleasant and we struck up a chat.  We were then joined by a retired couple and their adult daughter who were in town from Australia.  Long story short the daughter had spoken in New Orleans at a scientific conference and they decided to make a trip of it hitting Chicago, Boston and today leaving for New York for a few days in each town.  Since they are Australian I assume they know Phil.

It could not have been better.  They didn’t know anything about baseball but they were engaged and enjoying it and asking questions.  They were particularly fascinated by the ability of players to catch the ball so casually (yes, they were there for the seventh inning).  When Darren O’Day entered the game his delivery fascinated them.  Impressively dad knew the words to Take Me Out to the Ballgame and they had a ton of fun (as did Oriole fan) singing along to Sweet Caroline.

Obviously I had a great time and I got to thinking about why I love going to Fenway.  At its most basic the answer is easy; I love baseball, I am a Red Sox fan and Fenway is my hometown park.  But beyond that I don’t think I’m making a controversial statement when I say that Fenway is truly special.  The first thing about Fenway is that it is integrated into the neighborhood.  This creates some logistical hassles for both fans and residents to say the least but to my mind baseball SHOULD be part of the community.  This isn’t football where you show up twice a month, every day something is happening.  On top of that I love that when you get within a mile or two of the ballpark you start getting the flavor of the event.  Jump on the T and people are wearing Sox gear, all the bars and restaurants are catering to fans and it does not take long to start smelling the wonderful and low fat sausages sold outside the ballpark.

Getting into the ballpark there is something for everyone.  If you want food the only question is “what food?”  If you want to watch batting practice, go for it.  And by the way no other sport has a pre-game routine as fun to watch as BP.  Hockey players skate in a circle then take a few easy shots, basketball players drop in simple layups, football players take steroids, but baseball players hit balls 500 feet.  It’s enjoyable to watch.  You can hear oohs and ahhs during batting practice, you never hear that in other sports.

One thing that I think those of us who are diehards forget is that baseball is entertainment and should be fun.  During the Voldermort season there was a fair amount of griping about Sweet Caroline.  “The Sox are losing” the argument went, “why should they be playing a fun song?”  Well, because it is fun.  One thing I have always noticed is that the vast majority of people around me LIKE Sweet Caroline, they get a kick out of Wally (my Aussie and Oriole friends were amused by his backstory) and the Aussies were very entertained by the “win, dance, repeat” routine by the outfield (yeah they stayed for the whole game).  The walk up music for each hitter was something they also liked.

I guess I don’t really have a point.  Last night was a terrific night and part of it was the game, part of it was the companionship but part of it was the ballpark.  I loved pointing out the Morse code in the scoreboard and they all thought I was lying when I explained that there hadn’t been a gas station under the Citgo sign for decades.  I highly doubt my feelings toward Fenway are unique either among Sox fans or among baseball fans.  I have no doubt that fans of 29 other teams love their ballpark the same way.  Really, is there a better place to be than a ballgame?

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 12, 2017 at 08:53 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: April 12, 2017 at 02:32 PM (#5433837)
Last night was a perfect night out for baseball in New England.

I was at the inaugural game at Dunkin' Donuts Park, in Hartford. Maybe 3,000 people showed for a game between two CT colleges (U. of Hartford and Quinnipiac U.), which is damn good for a college baseball game that wasn't announced as being open to the public until 24 hours beforehand (and barely announced at that), and featuring two nothing teams. DDP will be the home field for the AA-level Hartford Yard Goats as of Thursday, their home opener, for which their 6,000 seats are sold out and they're making standing room tickets available today.

It was college baseball, between two nothing teams, accompanied by ########## from AΣΦ with an embarrassingly low tolerance level for beer. But otherwise there was no better place last night than at the park for a ballgame.
   2. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 12, 2017 at 04:12 PM (#5433928)
Last time I was in Boston was August of 1994. Had tickets to a Rangers/Red Sox game that got cancelled because of the strike. Still have the ticket though. Would rather have seen the game.

Dunkin' Donuts Park, in Hartford.

This saga has been an ongoing joke at Field of Schemes over the snafus that led to it opening a year behind schedule and losing money right out of the chute.
   3. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 12, 2017 at 04:27 PM (#5433950)
Hartford is going to need a state bailout within the next two years in part because of how much they spent on that stadium. They did not have the money to spend $60m on a minor league stadium. But it's still a damned fine looking ballpark and I'll still go see games there. It just should have been paid for with private money.
   4. villageidiom Posted: April 12, 2017 at 04:46 PM (#5433971)
This saga has been an ongoing joke at Field of Schemes over the snafus that led to it opening a year behind schedule and losing money right out of the chute.
The people around here who are bent out of shape because the Patriots backed out of the stadium-atop-a-highway-atop-a-river-atop-clay plan in Hartford now have a clear Exhibit A on why the Patriots did the right thing.

My assumption when the original contractor said they couldn't have the park ready for opening day 2016 was that it was a shakedown attempt. As the city called their bluff and more details emerged it became clear that the whole development plan was a ginormous shakedown attempt.
   5. villageidiom Posted: April 12, 2017 at 04:56 PM (#5433983)
Anyway, the most important takeaway was that it was great to be at a ballgame, even in Hartford.
   6. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 12, 2017 at 05:25 PM (#5434018)
I've been to Fenway about half a dozen times, ranging from 1969 to the final home game before the 1994 strike. This included a Saturday afternoon game in 1974 where the attendance was 11,667.

For the overhead view, it's up there with Camden Yards. For the view from down the right field line, it's a trip to the chiropractor.

For the atmosphere, it's equal to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in the late 70's / early 80's, Yankee Stadium's bleachers during the Bronx Zoo era, and Jarry Park in the first year of the Expos. Hard to beat.

The only problem is the ticket prices, but that ship sailed long ago.
   7. Vailsoxfan Posted: April 12, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5434029)
I went to college at Northeastern in the late 80s and have great memories of Fenway. Tickets were $4 for bleachers pre 1986 and spent many a spring night there in a half empty park just loving it, including the Clemens 20K game on a rainy night in May with about 13,000 people. My favorite memory though was when I went back to NE to visit we scored tickets to Mo Vaughn's 1st game back after signing with the Angels. Peak Pedro happened to be on the mound and it was like a playoff atmosphere. My sister in law from Seattle was with us, and we were sitting right by the pole in right. Huge amounts of hecklers for Mo and Pedro K'ed him 3 times. My SIL best quote was "This is nothing like a Mariners game".

   8. Jay Seaver Posted: April 12, 2017 at 08:14 PM (#5434120)
I've only got a 10-game plan (though I augment it with others every year) with last night being my first of the year and, yeah, it was pretty great. I've been fortunate enough to travel around to other parks that I've greatly enjoyed, and I think that only Pacific Bell Park in SF, as it was called at the time, really compares, with Fenway winning the tiebreaker because it's ours.

And it really is ours, more than any other park I've visited. It's surrounded by city on all sides, and for all that the best seats are expensive, you never look at the crowd at Fenway and see someone sitting in ostentatious luxury; the seats behind home plate are pretty much just as tight a squeeze as the ones in the grandstands, and there's no room for a moat. More than any other park, it's the heart of the city - I remember having tickets to the first game after the Patriot's Day bombings, just by chance, and you could feel it in the crowd and streets, way before the "our f---ing city" and the special uniforms and recognition; it was where we go to be Bostonians.

It's also really just about baseball. You can try to use it for other things, but they don't really fit. And I can't recall another ballpark I've been to in the last couple decades that doesn't feel the need to prompt the fans. No "make noise" graphics, no drumbeat telling us to get excited, very little minor-league stuff between innings.

I've been lucky enough to go to some great games and have some great experiences at Fenway, and while I'm sure everybody who loves baseball can say the same, I really do feel like we get the ideal experience, from the start where the T gets more and more full of people going to the ballgame as you get closer to Kenmore, to getting blasted with perfect sunlight and greens, to the unpredictability that the park creates without it seeming inorganic (it can't, after all, have any shape other than the one it does), to "Tessie" playing after "Dirty Water", to the return home that parallels the trip in, only with everyone who isn't wearing a Red Sox t-shirt asking about the game. You couldn't build the Fenway experience deliberately, and we're really lucky that the owners have been wise enough to tread carefully in how they have made upgrades without upsetting the basic pleasures that make going to a game there so much fun.
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 12, 2017 at 08:22 PM (#5434129)
Very nicely expressed, Jay.

It's also really just about baseball. You can try to use it for other things, but they don't really fit. And I can't recall another ballpark I've been to in the last couple decades that doesn't feel the need to prompt the fans. No "make noise" graphics, no drumbeat telling us to get excited, very little minor-league stuff between innings.

And that's one very good reason why Fenway will (hopefully) always be right up at the top of ballparks. Can you believe that on more than one occasion there was talk of replacing it with a new stadium?
   10. DKDC Posted: April 12, 2017 at 08:35 PM (#5434137)
Nice write up, Jose.

Despite the improvements over the years, Fenway still lacks some comforts, and the gimmicky field shape can lead to some bad baseball.

But on a warm spring night where you can soak up the history and the atmosphere and the aesthetics, Fenway is pretty tough to beat.
   11. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 12, 2017 at 09:49 PM (#5434198)
Fenway truly being in the middle of the city is a point that can't be emphasized enough. So may stadiums today are surrounded by parking lots and located nowhere near downtown, whereas you walk out of Fenway and are surrounded by the city. It helps that for a metro area of 6m, Boston is has a very walkable, compact footprint.

One of favorite Fenway memories was a game I went to for my birthday with my brother. I got to heckle Fernando Rodney on his walk in from the bullpen (I told him he was gonna blow it!) Just before he gave up a walk off homer to Saltalamacchia... And then walk right across the street to watch the end of the Celtics playoff game where Rondo carried them into the next round of the playoffs.
   12. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 12, 2017 at 09:52 PM (#5434204)
Dkdc, you say gimmicky, I say antique. It's not like they've changed the dimensions much in the last 100 years.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 12, 2017 at 10:01 PM (#5434210)
Yeah gimmicky definitely isn't the word. The ballpark is built into the surrounding neighborhood so the dimensions are necessary.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 12, 2017 at 11:18 PM (#5434257)
My first in-person MLB game was at Fenway. That was during the magic 1961 season, and my 11-year old self was quite impressed, although it probably helped that the Yankees won the game and took the series, coming back in the 9th in both wins.
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 12, 2017 at 11:31 PM (#5434263)
My first in-person MLB game was at Fenway. That was during the magic 1961 season, and my 11-year old self was quite impressed, although it probably helped that the Yankees won the game and took the series, coming back in the 9th in both wins.

I remember both those games as if they were yesterday. They were the games that made Johnny Blanchard forever a True Yankee.
   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 12, 2017 at 11:53 PM (#5434272)
They were the games that made Johnny Blanchard forever a True Yankee.

Saw the 9th-inning pinch-hit Grand Slam HR game on TV Friday night; then saw the game-tying 9th-inning solo shot on Saturday. Note how Luis Arroyo was used, too. Don't see that today. Yogi was in left field, and misplayed a couple of balls off the wall, and my lasting memory is Mantle streaking over from CF to save the day. Mick seemed faster than everyone else on the field that day.
   17. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 12:53 AM (#5434275)
I first visited Fenway when I was 8 ('84 September game). Pretty sure George Bell hit a couple HRs. I remember being as excited to go as I was any sporting event I had been to at that point. I'd seen the park on GOTW and watched the Brewers play there on TV growing up in Milwaukee, it has always presented itself so well on TV, so I had all of these visions in my head, and it was a pretty cool experience for my brothers, mom and I. I still have the ticket stub. The anticipation as we walked to the park is still in my mind, seeing the Citgo sign illuminated was something else. I've gone a few times in the 90s, 00s and 10s, I even contributed to the old Save Fenway Park organization when that was around. It is always a treat to visit Fenway.

Andy's right, the right field line seats are probably the last really awful feature, aside from the lack of any leg room for guys like me over 6 feet, especially the grandstand. I know the poles are still a problem, and frankly that's Wrigley's biggest wart, so many less than pleasant seats, a park I've been to about 30 times. Thinking about this makes me sour thinking about Tiger Stadium, another great memory of my youth.
   18. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5434329)
And that's one very good reason why Fenway will (hopefully) always be right up at the top of ballparks.

I was thinking about this thread on the drive home from work yesterday. Fenway is special because it was Babe Ruth's first home park.... not some patch of pavement or parking lot on the other side of the highway. BABE RUTH!!! That alone should make it worth preserving for all eternity.
   19. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5434331)
Andy's right, the right field line seats are probably the last really awful feature, aside from the lack of any leg room for guys like me over 6 feet, especially the grandstand. I know the poles are still a problem, and frankly that's Wrigley's biggest wart, so many less than pleasant seats, a park I've been to about 30 times. Thinking about this makes me sour thinking about Tiger Stadium, another great memory of my youth.

Fenway's great, but my two all time favorite all around stadiums are Briggs / Tiger and Wrigley, although for atmosphere neither of them compare to Fenway, or to the other three I mentioned above in #6.

Tiger Stadium, which I still think of sometimes as Briggs, remains my favorite. It's funny how it was so looked down upon in its last years, when in its prime it was almost universally regarded along with Wrigley as one of the two best parks in the Majors. Fenway wasn't even in that conversation. Ted Williams always called it the ideal hitters' ballpark, and with the shadows that always engulfed the center field lower deck it was easy to see why. At a time when many parks (Yankee Stadium, for one) didn't even have dark screens or walls in center field to provide hitting backgrounds, Briggs Stadium stood out as a hitters' paradise. And anyone who ever had the fortune to see a game from the upper deck** can remember how the seats were so close to the field that you could literally hear conversations between the catcher and the umpire.

The other feature of Briggs / Tiger up until its last few decades was the uniformly dark green seats,** which for generations defined what a ballpark should look like. Camden Yards still has that, but most stadiums don't seem to, and I've never understood why. Tradition aside, on days with empty seats it makes picking up the ball off the bat much easier than if the seats are some sort of pastel cover.

** Unless you were behind a pole, but that wasn't much of a problem unless there was a near sellout.

*** Which were so ubiquitous that the color was sometimes just referred to as "Stadium Green".
   20. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 13, 2017 at 09:47 AM (#5434340)
Bob Ryan has noted, correctly in my view, that old parks/stadiums tend to be best and worst. The old places often have the absolute best seats and I would put the seats at Fenway down the third base line where it juts out on that list but they often have the worst seats as well. As noted those right field grandstand seats definitely fit the bill.
   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:06 AM (#5434355)
Bob Ryan has noted, correctly in my view, that old parks/stadiums tend to be best and worst. The old places often have the absolute best seats and I would put the seats at Fenway down the third base line where it juts out on that list but they often have the worst seats as well. As noted those right field grandstand seats definitely fit the bill.

Aside from the food, the worst feature that was common to all the pre-multiplex parks were the poles that supported the upper deck. As I said above, they didn't usually come into play unless the crowd approached capacity, but in some cases it did.

Of course the upside of those poles was that it made the upper deck much, much closer to the field than the upper decks in today's cantilevered stadiums, where the first rows are often further set back from home plate than were the back rows in the older parks. It's a tradeoff that I've never quite thought worked out for the better.
   22. SandyRiver Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:23 AM (#5434368)
I remember both those games as if they were yesterday. They were the games that made Johnny Blanchard forever a True Yankee.


I thought that would've been the two walkoffs in three games that August. I was at the 2nd of those, which included a Maris 3-run "dinger" in the 1st - probably the shortest of his 61 that year, as it hit the RF foul pole about a foot above the low wall. Blanchard's shot looked at first like a game-winning single (Mantle was on 3rd, score tied), then a liner to right for out #3, but just kept on rising and landed way back in the lower deck, underneath the mezzanine.

And the Muni in Baltimore was rocking in 1966, too, my last spring at Hopkins and Robby's 1st with the club. $2 tickets for collegians, upper deck but all the seats were close.
   23. Franco American Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:58 AM (#5434396)
My one trip to Fenway was 30 years back. Half deaf 'cause my ears were ###### up from the flight, in a cramped obstructed view seat behind the plate, Yankees in town.

Glorious. Been to more meaninful games,and I don't remember much about thr game itself except the Sox winning and thr curses from the many Yankees in the crowd, but yeah, Fenway was the attraction. YS paled in comparison.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5434414)
I remember both those games as if they were yesterday. They were the games that made Johnny Blanchard forever a True Yankee.

I thought that would've been the two walkoffs in three games that August. I was at the 2nd of those, which included a Maris 3-run "dinger" in the 1st - probably the shortest of his 61 that year, as it hit the RF foul pole about a foot above the low wall. Blanchard's shot looked at first like a game-winning single (Mantle was on 3rd, score tied), then a liner to right for out #3, but just kept on rising and landed way back in the lower deck, underneath the mezzanine.


Well, those two in Boston came earlier, but what really certified Blanchard's TY status was that he then followed it up with two more home runs in his next two times at bat, which came in this game four days later, a game I attended. That tied the all-time record for consecutive home runs, and then in his next time up, he backed Floyd Robinson to the RF wall in a near miss at breaking the record. And then there was his dramatic game tying pinch hit homer in the 3rd game of that year's World Series. Before that heroic swat, the Yankees were but four outs away from trailing that Series by two games to one. Maris then provided the winning run with another homer in the top of the ninth.

But my favorite Blanchard sequence actually came a year before that, in an early August Series against the Tigers that I also had attended. In the first game he hit a game tying single, and then in the next game he hit a game tying homer in the 6th and a walkoff single in the 14th inning. At that point he was pretty much a no name benchwarmer, but since I happened to be at those games I then adopted Blanchard as one of my favorite Yankees. When he had his breakthrough year in 1961, I may have been the least surprised Yankee fan of all, at least in Washington.

And that's my contribution to Sox Therapy.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: April 13, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5434444)
I worked on Longwood Ave for 5 years, and went straight from work to a game a couple of dozen times. The highlight was probably going to the first day of the 2005 Beanpot and spending $5 to sit in the second row behind home plate. The most memorable game was this affair in 2003. The Sox translated 17 hits and 7 walks into 6 runs, and Kim blew a save in miserable fashion. We sat in the outfield bleachers; my friend got hit in the head by a bag of peanuts tossed into the stands by someone in the bullpen. Jose Guillen in right field for some reason decided he was going to show off his arm all night, and so did things like leisurely strolling over to pick up a ball that had gone foul down the line, and then suddenly throwing it to the pitcher on the fly. I have no idea what he was doing, but it was a lot of fun. That was also the night I fully realized how hard MLB pitchers throw, while watching Scott Sauerbeck warm up and realizing that he was just a lefty junkballer and still really zinging it in there.
The first thing about Fenway is that it is integrated into the neighborhood.
And unlike Wrigleyville, the neighborhood hasn't become a zone dedicated entirely to the pleasure of 24-year-olds who've recently graduated from a Big 10 school with a business degree (or whatever the New England equivalent is). There's some of that, but it's not nearly so overwhelming.
   26. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 01:14 PM (#5434553)
There's some of that, but it's not nearly so overwhelming.


It's been growing more true over the past decade or so, there's a lot more trendy bars and restaurants in the neighborhood now. But there's still is a high school literally right across the street from Fenway, and the whole area is seeing a ton of residential construction.
   27. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5434609)
There's some of that, but it's not nearly so overwhelming.


It's been growing more true over the past decade or so, there's a lot more trendy bars and restaurants in the neighborhood now.

That nearby bowling alley / pool room was always my personal canary in a mine shaft when it came to the Fenway Park neighborhood. Is it still around?
   28. villageidiom Posted: April 13, 2017 at 02:24 PM (#5434626)
That nearby bowling alley / pool room was always my personal canary in a mine shaft when it came to the Fenway Park neighborhood. Is it still around?
If you're talking about the one that used to be in the basement of the building next door, no. It's gone. The wood from one of the alleys has been incorporated into the bar surface up on the right field roof. That entire building is now part of the park and/or the front office.

If you're talking about the one at the far end of Lansdowne, yeah, that's still there. But I'm pretty sure that one wasn't there back in your day.
   29. SandyRiver Posted: April 13, 2017 at 02:31 PM (#5434641)
but yeah, Fenway was the attraction. YS paled in comparison.


Did you ever visit YS before the 1970s reno? That's all I've seen, as my last game attended there was in 1968. It could not have been as intimate as Fenway - seated twice as many - but that super-tall grandstand topped by the massive façade gave the place a truly cavernous aspect, and allowed the crowd sound to bounce around before dissipating. To a rookie, that façade and IMAX-steep 3rd level would seem right on top of him. The reno apparently retained that aspect but diluted the park's character in other ways. Not many parks had 457' on the left-center wall and 461' in "center" - actually about 20' to the left from being directly behind 2nd. The stats people kept a record of all those who hit balls into the bleachers between the LF grandstand and CF; it was not a large number, maybe 15 or so in 50 years. The 1970s work pulled those fences in to be just like those elsewhere. Having the monuments in play was another thing of minor, though unique, interest. I've read that Mantle once circled behind them to catch a monster flyball.

And from what I've read, NYS failed to include any of even the reno OYS character.
   30. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 02:59 PM (#5434665)
The immediate neighbors of Fenway Park are currently (from north, clockwise):
The Cask and Flagon (been around as long as I can remember)
The parking garage behind the Monster where the cars on the top level can get dented by long home runs
The House of Blues (opened 2009)
A couple smaller bars
Lucky Strike (formerly Jillians, I was there a year or so ago and it was incredibly loud and you couldn't get a bowling lane)
parking garage
a public high school
a CVS
a guitar center
a trendy boutique hotel (I still don't get where that came from, I don't remember it from when I lived on the Fens in 2005)
a Children's Hospital office building
a small parking lot with a Tasty Burger and UPS sorting facility
the club shops and such along Yawkee Way
Boston Beer Works
Sal's Pizza

So not that bad re: gentrification... but there's a lot of new bars (Yard House, etc) on Brookline as you head the quarter mile towards the Landmark Center.
   31. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5434676)
Of the other stadiums I've been to a lot, New Yankee Stadium is pretty bad. OYS wasn't perfect, but it at least had better atmosphere than the new place with its moat for all the empty seats on the field level. I saw some great games at OYS, we'd go there because it was generally easier to get Red Sox/Yankee tickets at Yankee Stadium than at Fenway. I remember watching the Mets tee off on Randy Johnson from waaaaaay high up in the upper deck. It was a blast. Citifield is a perfectly solid new style stadium, but it's got the same friendly neighborhood chop shops as Shea had.
   32. villageidiom Posted: April 13, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5434702)
So not that bad re: gentrification... but there's a lot of new bars (Yard House, etc) on Brookline as you head the quarter mile towards the Landmark Center.

For those who haven't been in a looooong time, Landmark Center is where the Sears distribution center used to be, out by Riverway. It now has a few shops (including REI) and a movie theater. When I said Longwood was expanding eastward, most of their development has moved past Landmark toward Fenway.
   33. TomH Posted: April 13, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5434705)
Two lifetime visits (= pilgrimages) to Fenway.
#1 - 16 Aug 1982, on our honeymoon. First pitch moved back about an hour last-minute to accommodate Monday Night Baseball on broadcast TV. We got to the game and the gates weren't even opened. New wife fell asleep in the 8th inning.
#2 - Sep of 2011 or 12, Yanks in town, paid $50 for SRO. Saw Ortiz go all the way from 2nd to 3rd on a double to LC... about as bad baserunning as you can get. In the 9th I went over to sit in the first row over the Mahnstah and touched the wall.
   34. Nasty Nate Posted: April 13, 2017 at 04:01 PM (#5434713)
a trendy boutique hotel (I still don't get where that came from, I don't remember it from when I lived on the Fens in 2005)
Howard Johnson's was in that spot.

That nearby bowling alley / pool room was always my personal canary in a mine shaft when it came to the Fenway Park neighborhood. Is it still around?


If you're talking about the one that used to be in the basement of the building next door, no. It's gone. The wood from one of the alleys has been incorporated into the bar surface up on the right field roof. That entire building is now part of the park and/or the front office.

If you're talking about the one at the far end of Lansdowne, yeah, that's still there. But I'm pretty sure that one wasn't there back in your day.
Maybe he meant Boston Billiards on Brookline Ave. That is gone, I believe.
   35. Nasty Nate Posted: April 13, 2017 at 04:09 PM (#5434718)

So not that bad re: gentrification... but there's a lot of new bars (Yard House, etc) on Brookline as you head the quarter mile towards the Landmark Center.
Boylston st has had tons of changes. There used to be both a McDonalds and a Burger King there.
   36. SandyRiver Posted: April 13, 2017 at 04:29 PM (#5434725)
#2 - Sep of 2011 or 12, Yanks in town, paid $50 for SRO. Saw Ortiz go all the way from 2nd to 3rd on a double to LC... about as bad baserunning as you can get. In the 9th I went over to sit in the first row over the Mahnstah and touched the wall.


Almost certainly 2011, as he played only one game in '12 after messing up his Achilles in late July. And that LF is the only one in MLB in which the scenario you described might not be horrible baserunning (though it probably was awful.) A wall-scraper double with less than 2 outs would force a slow runner like Papi to stay within about 30' of the bag, and if the ball then was fielded cleanly on the 1st bounce, Mike Trout would be hard pressed to get home from there ahead of the throw. (Trout, of course, would be more than halfway to 3rd while awaiting the ball-and-wall outcome, and thus reach home with room to spare.)

Citifield is a perfectly solid new style stadium, but it's got the same friendly neighborhood chop shops as Shea had.


Last time I was at Shea (late December 1968, the game that sent Broadway Joe to SB 3), much of the World's Fair stuff was still in place, so the neighborhood wasn't as questionable as in later years. My memory of that place, for baseball, was that the upper levels (only place I ever sat for BB) seemed closer to the jetliners leaving LaGuardia than to home plate.
   37. VCar Posted: April 13, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5434734)
My memories of my only trip to Fenway Park. July 87; just graduated so 5 of us drove from Baltimore to Cooperstown then to Fenway. Sunday afternoon game vs the A's, where McGwire was a rookie. Tried to find the stadium by looking for the Citgo sign, which we didn't realize was on the other side of the freeway. Sat in the lower stands, covered by the upper deck, which looked like it would collapse on us despite only being 75 years old at the time. When McGwire hit a long fly ball, my friend jumped up and yelled 'get outta here!', which was just about enough to get us killed by the locals. Game went 11, and ended on Bogg's 2nd swinging strikeout of the day, which had to be a rare event.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 06:58 PM (#5434797)
That nearby bowling alley / pool room was always my personal canary in a mine shaft when it came to the Fenway Park neighborhood. Is it still around?

If you're talking about the one that used to be in the basement of the building next door, no. It's gone. The wood from one of the alleys has been incorporated into the bar surface up on the right field roof. That entire building is now part of the park and/or the front office.


Yeah, that's the one I meant, and given the decline in popularity of both pool and bowling, I'm not too surprised it's gone.

If you're talking about the one at the far end of Lansdowne, yeah, that's still there. But I'm pretty sure that one wasn't there back in your day.

Maybe he meant Boston Billiards on Brookline Ave. That is gone, I believe.


The only other pool room I remember in that area was from the early-mid-90's, and it was a decidedly upscale joint with a liquor license that was upstairs about a block or so away from Fenway. I'm not sure of the name of the street, but I know that it was part of a mini-chain of upscale pool rooms that were found as far away as Seattle. Given how similar upscale rooms have been dropping like flies over the past decade, I seriously doubt if they'd still be there.

EDIT: Having just now read #30 above, I remember that the name of that upscale pool room was indeed Jillian's. But back in the 90's it was a pool room / sports bar, not a bowling alley.
   39. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 13, 2017 at 09:36 PM (#5434879)
Jillian's would not have been a place I expected you to like. I picture you in a seedy little joint with a whisky and a cigarette.

Jillian's was a cool place. We had a holiday party there one year and rented a few lanes. We ran up a heroic bar bill and our CEO and a few of the women in our marketing team decided to use the radar guns to have a contest who could roll the ball the fastest. The night ended with one of the marketing women throwing up in the backseat of my car (no I wasn't back there with her).

Good times.
   40. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:00 PM (#5434896)
When I was working on the 2004 Dean campaign we went to the Manchester, NH Jillian's for a midlevel staffers birthday. They kept serving drinks and not asking for any money. I got so drunk I couldn't drive home safely and had to take a nap in the back seat of my car in the NH winter night. The next day it turns out that the birthday guy had ordered a couple drinks on his own card... and the bar staff had used it for everyone elses drinks and ran up a 5k+ tab.

That birthday guy was Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign manager.
   41. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 14, 2017 at 08:43 AM (#5434988)
That's outstanding.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 14, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5435045)
Jillian's would not have been a place I expected you to like. I picture you in a seedy little joint with a whisky and a cigarette.

Hey, I like any room with either action or regular non-handicap 9-ball tournaments, smoking or non-smoking, liquor license or no liquor license, quiet or loud. I went to Jillian's in Seattle a long time ago and it was perfectly fine, and the one I go to now features a DJ blasting away in the front of the room by the bar while the tournament takes place in the back. Whenever they play the "Cupid Shuffle" I never miss a ball. OTOH at the late 211 Club in Seattle, you could hear a pin drop and you'd get shushed if you even thought about whistling. That one was Old School to end Old School.

I wonder if you would've liked the bowling alleys I used to go to (way) BITD. 25 or 30 cents a game, house balls with chips on the thumb holes (great for blister aficionados), alleys with 30 year grooves worn in them, and inebriated pinboys who had a hard time placing the pins on the pins, and would curse you if you didn't tip them enough. But those were good times, too, and the first joint I went to was also called Lucky Strike.
   43. Bad Fish Posted: April 14, 2017 at 05:29 PM (#5435565)
I am planning on going to a game this July, a rare treat as I live in New Mexico and don't get to Boston frequently. Does anyone have recommendations for seating?
   44. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 14, 2017 at 06:41 PM (#5435612)
Avoid the RF grandstand like the plague. Those are the worst in the house. Bleacher seats are a touch cheaper and in the lower section are much much better seats. RF Roof Box are pretty solid, and not insanely expensive. RF Box aren't bad, but you'll be doing the Green Monster Salute all game (your seats will face directly towards it, so you'll spend most of the game with your head turned left to see home plate.

Seat geek is always useful for stuff like this: https://seatgeek.com/venues/fenway-park/seating-chart
   45. toratoratora Posted: April 14, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5435614)
I grew up in Baltimore but the Sox have been my favorite team since 75. Still live in Maryland but I try to get to Fenway every couple of years. It's like my own persona hajj.

First time there was back in the 80's. We rode the train there and I remember thinking that the Boston Subway was dirtier and older looking than New York, which, having grandparents that lived in the Bronx in the Ft. Apache days, I would have deemed impossible. Popped up out of the tube and there we were, Fenway. The first impression was that the place was a pit. Did not expect the underbelly of the stadium to be what it was. If I recall right, it was old and slimy and lots of the walls were dripping water. I felt like I was in a prison. Until we came up the walkway and the field opened up below, this shining green loveliness glimmering with goodness and beauty.
I don't think I've ever been to a park where the experience is that sudden, and I've been to lots. It was like emerging from a cesspool to Eden.
Amazing.

The first thing I noticed on entry, and this always catches me off guard there, is the lack of an upper deck. I grew up in Memorial and it was alien not to have that upper ring looming above. Every few minutes I would look up as if to check and make certain that it really wasn't there. That was cool.

Our seats were in the bleachers, front row behind the bullpen. They were playing the Royals and Saberhagen was warming up for the start. We were so close that I could hear his fastball hiss, something I had never heard in all my years at Memorial. That thing just sounded lethal, a nasty viperous thing that oozed danger. Really put it into perspective what a different game the pros played than the one I played as a kid.
That was awesome.

The other thing, and the best part, was that we ended up having these two old guys sitting behind us. I swear they must have been season ticket holders since the damn place was built. They talked through the entire game and were priceless.

Their conversations went like,

"Yaz? Whatta bum. Always shifting stances. Never lived up to 67."
"Freaking Boggs can't hit for ####. No power. All he does is hit singles and walk."
"Lynn? Fragile Freddy. Whatta wuss. I can't play today, Skip, I think I have a hangnail"
"Tony C-whatta shame."
"Williams? Prima Donna. Sure, he could hit, but could he field? No. And a jackass to boot."
"Now Speaker, there was a player that could catch a ball, but if you think he was good, you shoulda laid eyes on Harry. Harry who? Harry Hooper, idiot."

I loved those old timers. Me and my buddy (Strat players so we were somewhat SABR educated and reading Bill James) cracked up through the entire game. Those guys were absolutely my favorite first Fenway memory.

Well that, and our hotel bordered The Combat Zone, but that's a whole different set of stories that have nothing at all to do with the Fens
   46. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 14, 2017 at 07:20 PM (#5435646)
Grandstand sections 13-27 are the way to go. Ideally get in he first 6-7 rows and you should be ok with the poles. That's usually the best value, they shouldn't be too crazy expensive like the boxes but the view is still excellent and as an added bonus you are under the roof in case it rains or is crazy hot and sunny.

If you must be in the right field corner section 1 is the section by the bleachers and is straight on. You are a long way away but it's not bad. The best seats in baseball though are the seats where the fence juts out down the third base line. Those box seats will be costly but they are outstanding.
   47. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: April 14, 2017 at 07:24 PM (#5435649)
Also just anecdotally from my own experience Red Sox replay tends to be a bit cheaper than StubHub.
   48. Bad Fish Posted: April 14, 2017 at 07:51 PM (#5435662)
Thanks for the input! I'll let you know what I got.
   49. Bad Fish Posted: May 21, 2017 at 01:41 PM (#5460439)
Well, I picked up 4 tickets in G27 row 3 for a little under $90/ticket with fees. Jays, 7/19. Thanks for the info!
   50. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: May 21, 2017 at 08:42 PM (#5460608)
Nice! Please check back in here and tell us what you think! Definitely avail yourself of the street meat vendors before going in. Have a great time.

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