To those of you up in arms over the speaker of this blog title’s woeful ignorance concerning one of the most sanctified objects in the history of Major League Baseball, fear not: he has since seen the light. Not everyone’s as fortunate as we in Boston are with their baseball teams, with “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” sitting as the Mecca of their fandom. And with my good friend Harry Crimi, hailing from the Philadelphia area, wanting to experience a real-life, authentic Red Sox game IN Fenway Park before he graduated Holy Cross (and with that window of opportunity shortening significantly as he leaves over the summer to spend all next year abroad in Athens and Rome), I had an excuse to remind myself of just how lucky we are! With the majority of our friend group in tow, Juneau, AL, San. Fran, CA, Chicago, IL, Akron, OH, and the aforementioned Philly were all represented on the shuttle ride from Hogan into Boston last night to see the Green Monstah!
Fenway tickets are infamously not cheap, so we weren’t exactly sitting right behind home plate on our collective standard college student budget. The Pahk is so small and so pretty, however, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house, and we were thrilled when we finally arrived at our respective ones, directly beneath the jumbotron and looking dead ahead at home plate.
As I explained to Harry, it’s not actually a legitimate trip to Fenway unless you partake in a world-renowned Fenway Frank. The hot dogs had a high-brow patron in Harry, a third-generation Crimi worker of Cappuccio’s Meats back in Philly, but they were nonetheless met with glowing approval (all I’m saying is, for that price, they BETTER have been).
Temps were unexpectedly cold for an April night in Boston, not helped by the fact that, as high up and as close to the Mass. Pike as we were, Bean-Town’s sea-breeze was pretty constant. Our wallets were emptied at the food vendors on Fenway’s concourse in attempts to eat and drink the cold away, to no avail (let’s be serious though; there are worse things than failing in that attempt). Several innings, multiple Red Sox runs, and one bad-tempered photographer later (inside joke), we would have been frozen but for the laughs, and it was time to high-tail it out of there.
With two hours to waste before the return shuttle to Hogan came and picked us up, and in order to pay our respects to the history that’s been unfolding in Boston over the past few weeks, we made our way from Fenway over to the Boylston St. finish line area for the marathon, the site of the recent bombings. It was a bit surreal, walking with my friends down parts of the Marathon course I had been staggering through only eleven days before in a considerable amount of pain, pointing out to everyone all the different mile-markers and particularly interesting spectator points. Walking down Boylston St. was even stranger; the last time I had been there, it was broad daylight and there were THOUSANDS of people cheering their heads off, totally unaware of what was about to unfold. At 11pm last night, under an almost-full moon, the street was as silent and somber as a church, populated by people almost all exclusively there to see the aftermath of one of the most tragic chapters in Boston’s history. “This was the second bomb site… That’s the security camera they ID’d the suspects with… That’s where my mom and sister were standing… This is how far down the chute I was before it all happened behind me” It sounds overly-dramatic, but these were the things I was relaying to my wide-eyed friends as a firsthand observer of it all. The last stop of the night was at the truly moving makeshift memorial set up on Copley Plaza. Thousands upon thousands of cards, candles, flowers and various other mementos were piled in a tribute to the victims; most impressive to me was a wall of sneakers donated by runners who had tied them all onto one of the barriers. Speaking from experience, there’s a lot of emotional investment in the shoes a marathoner trains with: those suckers have at this point carried you all through training season, over hundreds of miles in bitter colds, through good and bad days, and then were with you for the Marathon itself, taking you closer into Boston with every step. Giving those away to someone or something is a HUGE gesture, and one that certainly didn’t escape me. Goosebumps, goosebumps, goosebumps.
A terrific night then, from start to finish, as fun as it was poignant, and totally unforgettable. I think I’m not mistaken in saying Red Sox Nation has itself a few new initiates, and that Mr. Crimi’s bucket list is one item shorter. Just further reasons (as if it needed any) why Boston remains my favorite city in the world!