JD’s Ballpark Tour… A Beginning? (Boston, Mass.)

Part 0: The Prequel to the Tour at Fenway Park

I will make this a very quick post just to include this ballpark on my travels for the 2014 year. Hey, I went here… it still counts, right? With the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings still fresh in our minds, my family and I decided to run out there during marathon weekend. Since the Red Sox were also home that weekend (as they always are), this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

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Ballpark 13: Fenway Park, elevation 20 feet

The game: Orioles @ Red Sox on April 19, 2014

After running the Boston 5K Saturday morning and going through all that emotion of crossing the finish line on Boylston, I picked up my medal and headed back to the hotel room my family was residing at so I could make the jaunt to Fenway Park. This would prove to be a tough commute because the Government Center station had just closed the previous month! This made the transfer between the blue line and the green line a bit more difficult. But, I made it to Fenway well before the game, and there was already a huge crowd there! The reason for the huge crowd? It was PHOTO DAY!

First off, Yawkey Way is everything that you’ve probably imagined. To even get into Yawkey Way on game days, you must have a game ticket as that road is considered part of Fenway Park. There are plenty of shops there to get your gear. More on that later.

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The fans: Because I arrived early, I was able to secure a really good spot for photo day on the third base side. However, right behind me were the massive crowds also looking for a good spot. These fans in Boston are incredibly passionate and are some of the best in the world. At first, I was right behind a really nice couple who were just as excited as I was to even be standing on the warning track of Fenway Park. When they saw my 5K medal from the Boston Marathon weekend draped around my neck, they immediately let me in the front and asked how I did in the morning’s race. Not only do these fans love their Red Sox, but they have such respect and admiration for anyone that ran in that weekend’s race, especially after the bombings took place the previous year. I almost felt like a celebrity of sorts just because I was running during Marathon Weekend. I absolutely love these fans.

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There were plenty of players that came out during the photo day. Some of the players that came to my side were Junichi Tazawa, Xander Bogaerts, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and manager John Farrell. My favorite player to come out was Will Middlebrooks just because of how awesome he is. First, he came out wearing American flag shorts and seemed as loose as anybody out there. When he got to me, he asked about my medal and even congratulated me on running out there! That was really cool of him to stop and talk for more than a second. Soon after the players left, my family and I decided to take advantage of the few minutes we had on the fabled Fenway Park dirt and took as many pictures as possible!

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Ticket prices: I will keep this short. This is Boston Marathon weekend, all tickets are going to be expensive regardless of where you buy them. I had to get creative with this, but I found a cheap single ticket in the grandstands section 31, and found a somewhat cheap pair of tickets for the row directly behind me. Because these were in the grandstands with the old, blue, solid oak seats (circa 1934), I had to make sure there were no obstructions. I then referred to a valuable website called “Precise Seating” that shows you every detail of most of the seats at Fenway Park. The only obstruction I had was to part of the Green Monster, but the action on the infield was perfect!

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After checking out the view from our seats, we decided to head out to Yawkey Way and check out some of the stores. The one store every baseball fan MUST go to is the Yawkey Way team store across the street from the stadium. Their game-used stuff is very fairly priced, and this was one time where I splurged a bit and got myself a game-issued jersey. Even though the number “95” doesn’t have much meaning to me, and was more than likely a jersey issued to a bat-boy, I had to get it at eighty bucks. Plus, this authentic jersey was my size and also included a Fenway Park centennial patch on the sleeve. Talk about a great deal for an authentic jersey!

Not only do they have amazing deals (especially if you have a AAA card), but there is a living legend that resides in that store at least 80 times a season. His name is Arthur D’Angelo. He not only owns the team store in part, but is one of the founders of ’47 Brand sports apparel and is known as the “Mayor of Fenway.” It’s slightly sad that most fans pass by and don’t know him, but he’s usually there sitting in his chair shaped like a baseball glove. When I met him, he talked about the team, likes telling stories, and if you’re really nice to him, he will let you take a picture of his 2004 World Series ring. What a true class act deserving of the title “Mayor of Fenway.”

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The food: Two words: Fenway Franks. Yummy! The lines can be a bit long on Yawkey Way, but getting a couple dogs and a Polish sausage was well worth it. They are not too expensive, either.

The game: The Boston Red Sox had just won the World Series the previous year on the heels of the “Boston Strong” movement. The electricity in the city was about as intense as I had ever seen. The crowd was into it, the players were all emotional given that it was the one-year anniversary of the horrendous Boston Marathon bombings. One of those players was David Ortiz. He blasted a majestic home run into the right field seats that sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy, and he was emotional after coming back to the dugout. It really was that kind of game.

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The Red Sox ended up winning the game, 4-2, and I got to hear “Dirty Water” played at Fenway Park in person. Overall, this was an unforgettable experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. This game was a catalyst for my entire ballpark tour, and I’m glad it all started with a meaningful race.

Before I end this post, I just want to extend my thoughts and prayers to those that were affected by the Boston Marathon bombings in April, 2013. So many lives were lost, and we really came together as not only a running community, but also a nation. Thank you to everyone who went above the call of duty to make Boston a better city. For one weekend, we were all “Boston Strong” and we all ran as one.

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-JD

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