I’m not sure exactly when I went to my first Red Sox game, but I was probably 6 or 7. Roger Clemens was pitching, although I had no idea what that meant at the time. All the other memories are fuzzy, except for one that’s crystal clear. Walking with my dad in Fenway Park, through the crowded concourse, up a ramp until suddenly my vision was flooded with the greenest grass I’d ever seen, and the Green Monster (Fenway’s signature 37.5-foot wall in left field) looming larger than life.
I was blown away. I remember thinking how all this green space could exist in the city. Wondering how ANYONE could ever muscle a ball over the Monster. And feeling the whole thing was surreal because I had seen Fenway on TV so many times, it felt like it was this faraway fantasy land that didn’t really exist. For 10 seconds I just stared, lost in the enormity of it all.
I was only a little kid, so I didn’t understand the intricacies of the game yet. All I knew was how important the team was to my dad. I watched him more than I watched the game. He lived and died on every pitch so dammit I was gonna do the same thing. Just like he learned from his grandfather. I remember him telling me the Red Sox would eventually break my heart, but it’s our job to root for them no matter what. For life. And so I did, no questions asked.
The only thing I remember from that day 25 years ago was my dad putting his hand on my shoulder and giving a squeeze. I didn’t know it at the time, but that squeeze was his way of saying “Welcome to the club little man.”
Fast forward to last weekend.
I had been going back and forth on whether or not I could bring Will to a Red Sox game this season. Ultimately I decided against it for several reasons. First of all I thought he was too young. But mostly, it’s because the Red Sox have the most expensive tickets in baseball. Bleacher seats are $25 face value. Except everything is sold out so you can’t get face value. Usually you have to pay $50 per ticket for small seats so far away you can barely see the action. And the concession prices are so disgustingly inflated you need to take out a bank loan before you buy a couple of hotdogs. Combine all of this with the fact that 3-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat and you’re traveling an hour and spending a shit ton of money for a couple of innings until the whining & temper-tantrum kicks in.
But my parents, who are awesome, decided to get Will and I tickets as a birthday present to me. So with the financial impediments cleared, I was THRILLED to take Will to his first game. And formally induct him into a club populated by the men in my family for many, many years.
I had grand plans for last Saturday. Will and I were going to take the train in because he loves riding the subway. The Red Sox were playing the Oakland A’s. Jon Lester was pitching. Our seats were along third base way up high in the State Street Pavilion. I had it all planned out and—because I blog everything—I was going to find a way to record it all for posterity, as I do with most everything that happens in my life. And the crowning jewel would be the look on his face when I walked the next generation up the ramp to worship in baseball’s most glorious cathedral.
Not only that, but Will had a truly great day. He got to ride two trains into Boston which may or may not have been the highlight of his day. He had his first Fenway Frank (picture on the right). He ate ice cream from a plastic mini Red Sox helmet. We bought a game program as a keepsake. Wally the Green Monster (who I hate because he’s the worst mascot in sports) patted Will on the head. Will danced with a beautiful woman between innings (video is at the bottom of this post). Jason Varitek—the aging Captain—hit a homerun, which Will shockingly called just before he hit it. All in all he lasted six spectacular innings.
Oh yeah, the Red Sox won the game too.
I share so much of my life on this blog. I detail the good, the bad and the just plain silly. So it makes sense that I’m sharing this experience. This wonderful, memorable day for which I’ll be forever thankful. The day I officially passed on a love of Red Sox baseball to my son. Just like my dad did for me.
But as for capturing Will’s expression when he came upon the beauty that is Fenway Park for the very first time and started a lifelong love affair with baseball and Boston?
Sorry folks. I’m keeping that one for myself.