A Dream of Fields: Opening Day at Fenway Park

If you’ve read all sorts of the stuff here on the Stuff, then you know I’m a baseball fan. Specifically, I’m a Boston Red Sox fan. The identity of a Red Sox fan changed in 2004 when they won the World Series after an 86-year drought. We were no longer “there’s always next year” fans, waiting for yet another year of almost-close Curse of the Bambino incidents.

There was 2003—Game 7 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, where the Sox were leading in late innings, only to see the Yankees tie the game and win it in extra innings on a walk-off home run by Aaron Boone.

There was 1986—Game 6 of the World Series against the New York Mets. The routine ground ball going through first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs gets scapegoat status. That was extra innings. The Sox were one strike away from winning THREE TIMES in the bottom of the ninth inning. There was also a Game 7. But no matter what the reason, it was heartbreaking and devastating.

There was 1978—The AL East tiebreaker game against the New York Yankees. The go-ahead runs scored on a home run by Bucky Dent. As deflating as that moment was, the Sox blew a large division lead in the month of September to necessitate that game.

There was 1975—The World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. I was only four years old, so I have no memories of this series, but this was when the Reds were “The Big Red Machine.” They were stacked, they were the better team, and thus the loss isn’t as tragically cursed. Instead, we get one of the most iconic baseball images ever: Carlton Fisk waving the ball hit down the left field line fair and getting a walk-off home run to force a Game 7.

I could mention 1967 and 1946, their only other World Series appearances after 1918, but that’s all in the past. Nowadays, we Red Sox fans can’t complain about a curse.

And I was there to see the curse reversed. I was at Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Maybe the reversal started the night before in Game 4 when Dave Roberts stole second and ultimately tied the game and prevented a sweep. Game 5 was another come-from-behind win in extra innings. Then the Sox went on to win the next two games and become the first (and so far only) team in Major League Baseball history to come back from a 0-3 series deficit.

The World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals was somewhat anticlimactic after the excitement of the ALCS. The Sox had so much momentum that they probably could have won ten games in a row. Maybe twenty. Maybe a hundred.

The identity of a Red Sox fan changed in 2004. Many people were overjoyed to finally see it happen. Generations of families bonded. Even if it didn’t happen for another 86 years, we saw it happen. We’ve been fortunate since then, seeing two more titles in 2007 (over the Colorado Rockies) and 2013 (won in Game 6 at home against the Cardinals). The Sox are one of only two teams—the San Francisco Giants are the other—to have won three World Series in the 21st century.

Last season was not a good year for the Red Sox. After winning it all in 2013, they finished last in the AL East in 2014. This year has started off very well. The Sox have won five out of their first seven games, including a 19-inning battle against the Yankees.

And they won their home opener at Fenway Park today.

I love Fenway Park. I’ve been there many times, and every time is special. I’ve been to two opening days. I’ve been to closing days. I’ve been to extra-inning games. I’ve been to two play-off games (one win, one loss). In the early 90s when they weren’t very good, I’ve been to games after buying a ticket an hour before the game. I’ve stayed for 12-1 blowouts. I’ve taken a girlfriend to her first Sox game. I’ve gone to games with friends who were fans of the opposing team. I’ve sat in the bleachers. I’ve sat in obstructed view seating. I’ve sat in the fifth row on the first-base line.

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Not only am I a fan of the Red Sox and Fenway Park, but I’m a fan of baseball the sport. I don’t follow football, basketball, or hockey close enough to tell you which teams are doing well, but I do keep up with baseball all season. I’ve already got a prediction for this year’s World Series, but in a 162-game season, there are far too many variables. But I’m rooting for the Sox!

You may be wondering why I’m devoting a blog post to this—other than the obvious I-need-content reason. After all, it’s my blog, and it’s called All Sorts of Stuff, so I’ll write about All Sorts of Stuff that interests me, and baseball interests me.

But the real reason—along with I-need-content—is to start a summer feature. I have a lifelong dream to see a home game for all 30 MLB teams. I’m nowhere near completing it; I’m around a third of the way through, depending on how I choose to count the relocated Montreal Expos. I had a plan to write memoirs or something like them to describe the circumstances that led me to each of the fields. I even had a catchy title planned: A Dream of Fields. I started writing it years ago, but none of the segments were long enough for chapters, and I was nowhere near completing the dream anyway. Seriously nowhere near, since the last non-Fenway field I went to was in 2003!

Now that I have a blog, I can tell the stories here! They’re mostly short—some a few paragraphs, maybe—but there are a couple tales that are loads of fun, and I’ll announce which are my favorites. I’ll be posting every other week or so throughout this year’s baseball season until I’ve finished telling about the ones I’ve been to. And if I ever make it to others, I’ll post when I go to them.

Play ball!

Comments

  1. Very descriptive article, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

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