Jeff’s first time at Fenway.
(Thanks to Jeff for submitting this lovely blog on his first time at Fenway. Got me thinking. What’s your earliest memory of Fenway?
Still at the beach, haven’t drowned. Hah. But I’ll definitely blog about my kayaking experience in the near future. Look for that. It’s a doozy.
Feel like guest bloggin’? E-mail me what you’ve got- firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Um…Hi. This is Jeff. Also known as “bickleyhouse.” I am not Soxy. Well…maybe I am somewhat “Soxy,”
but not “Too Soxy For My Shirt.” I am severely “insoxicated,” though. I write two blogs. One, called Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God, is a strictly
devotional blog. My other blog, called Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit is where I write about everything else, like Red Sox baseball. And Texas Rangers baseball, too, because I live 10 miles from Rangers ballpark.
I don’t even remember how I ran across Soxy’s blog. But I loved it as soon as I did. She is witty, funny, and somewhat insane. And possibly drunk, too. I have grown especially fond of her “live blogging” of Red Sox games, and actually got in on one while it was happening one night. And that event is what led
to this…me being a “guest blogger” on her blog, which is something I have never done before. So I’m very nervous. What does one do as a “guest blogger?” First, I think, one sings the praises of the person
for whom one is guest blogging. See above. I already did that. For sure, one should most definitely NOT criticize the favorite team of the blogger as one raging Pirates fan did. Pheh. This person actually thinks the Pirates’ stadium is better than Fenway Park! Pheh. I don’t even KNOW any Pirates fans. I know one Astros fan. Poor guy.
So…I have decided to simply describe the first time I ever laid eyes on Fenway Park, the Cathedral of Boston.
Quick background. I have never lived outside of Texas. Pity me. Especially right now, because we are in the middle of what is going to prove to be a record-breaking heat wave. We have had something like 36 consecutive days of 100+ temperature. The forecast over the next 10 days has nothing below 106! The previous record, set in 1980, was 42 days. I’m thinking we are going to beat that by at least 10 days. But I digress. As I said…never lived outside of Texas.
I’m an old guy…53 right now. So, in the mid-sixties, as a young boy, I began to love baseball. Having no team anywhere close to Mineral Wells, Texas (sure the Lastros were down in Houston), other than the Dallas/Fort Worth Spurs, who, if I’m not mistaken were in the Orioles farm system. In 1967, the Boston
Red Sox became The Impossible Dream Team. Carl Yastrzemski hit 44 home runs and won baseball’s triple crown. As of 2011, it is still the last time it has ever been won. Almost 50 years Yaz’s achievement has stood firm. Carl Yastrzemski became my hero that year, and remains so to this day. And my heart became glued to the Boston Red Sox, and remains so to this day. Understand, I do cheer for the Texas Rangers, and have ever since they came from Washington in 1972. Unless they are playing the Red Sox.
I have friends who think they can convert me and make me root for the Rangers over the Red Sox. Not gonna happen.
I cheered in my bedroom in 1975 when Carlton Fisk waved that ball over the fence in the World Series against the Reds. I screamed at my television when the Reds batter interfered with Fisk on a bunt (I think it was a bunt?) which should have been an out, but instead was the turning point of the series. (I
still think that was the best World Series ever, even though the Sox lost).
I wept when that ground ball went between Bill Buckner’s feet in the 1986 World Series against the Mets, resulting in yet another heartbreaking WS loss. Was this curse thing for real?
I almost gave up hope in 2004 when the Sox were down to the hated Evil Empire in the ALCS, 3-0.
Then, as we all know. That miracle happened. I remember standing in my living room, weeping tears
of joy when Foulke grabbed that slow grounder and tossed it to first base as the Sox swept the
Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years!
But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, and most of you have experienced these same emotions yourselves. Except for those of you who weren’t around in 1975, maybe. Back to what I said I was writing about.
My wife and I were celebrating our 15th anniversary in the year 2000. We planned an amazing trip to New England in early October, as our anniversary is on October 12. We flew into Newark, and drove straight to Mystic, Connecticut, where we visited the Mystic Seaport, ate Mystic Pizza, and even visited
the famous Foxwoods Casino. We stayed in there about 15 minutes. Heh. The next day, we drove up to Salem, Massachusetts, where we would spend our second night. Of course, we had to drive through Boston to get to Salem, and my wife had promised that we would try to find Fenway Park. But
we had stopped in Concord on the way, and visited a famous cemetery called Sleepy Hollow, where some famous authors are buried. We saw the graves of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then we found Walden Pond, which was one of the
most beautiful places I had ever seen up to that point in my life. As we finally approached Boston, we followed some signs, and got close, but then, the signs stopped, we got lost, and wound up driving right through downtown Boston. By this time, it was dark, and, miraculously, we got out of downtown on the
exact road we needed to be on to continue to Salem. Christi promised we could come back the next day and find it.
So we got to Salem, checked in, walked around…let me tell you something. Salem, Mass. Is spooky a couple weeks from Halloween!
The next day, before we moved on to Portland, Maine, we went back to Boston. We finally saw Fenway Park from the road, and I must confess, I was so excited, I almost couldn’t wait for the car to get parked before getting out. My heart was pounding. We arrived at the corner where the offices are, only to find
that there were no tours being done, due to ballpark renovations. I wasn’t that disappointed, because I was looking at Fenway Park! I walked up and touched the bricks. My wife took a picture of me touching Fenway Park. Then we walked up the sidewalk a little way, and found one of the gates open. There were a couple of old guys standing there talking. We just stood there and stared, and I’m sure my mouth was gaping open. One of the guys left and the other one looked over at us, smiled, and said, “Well, SAY something.” All I could say was, “Wow.” My wife explained to him how I had loved the Red Sox since the sixties and this was our first trip to Boston, etc. He pointed to one of the ramps that
led into the stands and said, “Go ahead. But DON’T go on the field.” “Yes, sir!” I said. We walked up the ramp. There, directly across the grass from me, was the Green Monster. I cried. Yes, I really did.
In fact, I’m shedding a couple of tears as I remember this and type it right now. It was one of the most glorious moments of my life, coming in behind my wedding to my wife, and the beginning of my life with Jesus. I took some pictures, but in 2000, we didn’t have a digital camera yet, and I’m not sure where they are, to be honest with you. The nice old man gave us a calendar on the way out. It was an amazing day. We finished up what would remain one of our best vacations ever and came back home. Since then, I have had the pleasure of seeing the Red Sox play the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park (on the very weekend that Jacoby Ellsbury made his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform), and then an entire series between the Sox and the Evil Empire the following year at Fenway Park.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get back or not. But it’s not a big deal. Because I’ve “been there and done that,” and will remember it until the day I die.
Thanks, Soxy, for giving me the opportunity to share this.