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2004: Diary of a Season

2004 was one of the greatest years in Red Sox history, but it didn't always feel like it was going to be. We all know the happy ending, but let me take you through the highs and lows that got us there. I attended 28 regular-season home games, a postseason game, and one game at each minor league level. In addition, I took trips to Spring Training and Toronto, and attended two different Fenway Park open houses. Finally, I got to experience the glory of the greatest comeback in the history of sports and liberation from 86 years of heartache, and rejoiced along with the rest of Red Sox Nation.

Saturday, December 13, 2003, Fenway Park

Before the wounds from the tragic end to the 2003 season had even begun to heal, it was time to get tickets for 2004. The Red Sox hosted their first Christmas at Fenway event, selling four-game Sox Pax and single-game tickets for a few games in April and May. With my eye on the Sox Pax that included Opening Day, I left the house early - 6:30 am to be exact. I was on the T by 7:15, and got to Fenway at 8 - all with a huge smile on my face. I'm not a morning person by any means but I was going to Fenway! I waited in line briefly outside Gate D, thinking how the last time I was out there was the night the Red Sox clinched the 2003 Wild Card. (Oh how sad, remembering what happened next!)

In the .406 Club, they had huge bagels and muffins for $1 apiece. I was wristband #380, and while we were waiting for our number to be called to go down to the ticket office, they were playing NESN's video "Cowboy Up: The Story of the 2003 Red Sox". (I timed a trip to the restroom so I wouldn't have to watch the part about the ALCS - I couldn't deal with that yet!) From the .406 Club, we could look out at the field blanketed in snow and the stockings and wreath hung on the Green Monster.

After the video finished, a series of speakers were introduced for questions and answers. Rich Gedman was first, then Bronson Arroyo, then Frank Malzone. At 11:00 my wristband number was up, and my friend and I went downstairs to buy our tickets (including Opening Day!!!) We were each given a Red Sox Christmas stocking for placing our orders.

Christmas at Fenway Once we had the tickets, my friend had to leave, but I went back up to the .406 Club to see what else was going on. Larry Lucchino was speaking, and he had just unveiled blueprints and artists' renderings of the new seating area that the Red Sox were going to build on the right field roof. It's going to include tables and waiter service, and he was looking for suggestions of food to serve. He also said that he's always looking to hear from fans with feedback or suggestions on any issue. We were told that the pictures of the new seating area would be displayed in the back of the room later in the day, so everyone would get a closer look. An Aramark rep was the next speaker, so I got up to walk around, and wound up getting autographs from Jim Corsi and Ron Jackson.

When I sat back down, it was time for the biggest treat of the day - a visit from Curt Schilling, the new ace who had been acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks a few weeks earlier. He was really cool, and said all the right things - "When we win this year" (not if), and how he can't wait to beat the Yankees. He was impressed that in the middle of winter and with the Patriots doing so well that all the buzz in Boston was about the Sox.

After Curt left, I got up to look at the right field roof drawings, and realized I was standing right next to Larry Lucchino, who was talking with three girls. As I waited for him to finish with them, I tried to remember all the suggestions/comments I had all year so that I could tell him. Hearing him on WEEI every week during the season responding to fans' comments had made me end each rant all summer long with, "I should tell Larry how I feel about that." And now here was my chance! One pet peeve is that fans are not allowed up on the Green Monster - even briefly well before game-time - without a ticket in that section. I wanted some way for fans without Green Monster tickets to be able to go up there quickly either before or after games, just long enough to take a couple of pictures and come back down. I also wanted them to put back the handicapped parking spaces outside Gate E that they did away with. And I thought it would be cool when the Sox made the playoffs this year to be able to go to Fenway and watch the away games on the big screen. So when Larry finished talking with the girls, I shook his hand, and before getting to my other comments, I opened with, "I love how you guys are so open about communicating with the fans. In the past we were always taken for granted, and it's great to be able to have events like this to come to." Before I could say anything else, he turned to Boston Herald reporter Mike Shalin who was nearby and said, "Did you hear that? Tell him what you just said." So the reporter asked my name and I repeated my previous statement. (Wound up with a brief mention in Shalin's article in the Sunday paper, too!) When I turned back around to tell Larry the rest, he was already talking to someone else. It cracked me up how he made sure to get the compliment in the paper, and then moved on before I could get to my gripes!

As the day went on, we also heard from Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson, Jim Corsi and Don Orsillo. While Orsillo was on stage, he conducted an interview over the phone with WBZ's Dan Roche who was in New Orleans covering the winter meetings. Roche was talking about Scott Boras, Alex Rodriguez, Theo Epstein, and the potential trade that would bring A-Rod to the Sox, when there was a long pause. He came back saying, "I was just handed a note. This is still unconfirmed, but Keith Foulke has signed a three-year deal with the Sox." The .406 Club broke into applause at the announcement, and I called home to give them the scoop before they had heard it on the news.

I left around 3:00, but it was a fun day, and a great way to get my baseball fix in the middle of December.

Saturday, February 7, Fenway Park

Gabe Kapler and Me In early February, the remaining tickets went on sale at Fenway Park. Again I arrived early - well before 8:00 - but there were so many people there ahead of us that the .406 Club was full, and we were directed to the Hall of Fame Club, where we could watch what was going on upstairs on monitors. Eventually we were able to go upstairs, where we could answer trivia questions for prizes and meet the day's special guests. I got my picture taken with outfielder Gape Kapler, and got an autograph from 1950's second baseman Ted Lepcio. Larry Lucchino and PR guru Dr. Charles Steinberg fielded questions. I won a Red Sox notepad/pencil holder combo for answering a trivia question regarding Derek Lowe's 2002 no-hitter. They asked what major league record was set that day, and I knew it was Rickey Henderson's record for most career leadoff home runs.

It was after 4:30 when my wristband number finally got called. We got most of the games we wanted, although there were a few Saturdays and Sundays when we couldn't get three or four seats together so we wound up "piggy-backed" - one behind the other - or switched to a weeknight instead. But all-in-all it was another great day that helped me get through the long off-season.

February 16 - 19, Fort Myers, Florida

Sanibel sunset A week after getting my 2004 tickets, I embarked on my annual trip to Ft. Myers with my parents. Because my mother is a teacher, we had to travel during her school vacation week, and unfortunately President's Day was on the early side this year. The official reporting date for pitchers and catchers wasn't until the day we flew home, but we knew there'd be players there early. We just hoped we'd be able to watch them. As it turned out, we did get to see a lot of players despite the early timeframe, and we had a great time. See my pictures and read the full write-up here.

Saturday, March 27

Getting Red Sox tickets is never easy, but in the case of the Green Monster, it's particularly hard. The Red Sox had a lottery system where we could register online for the chance to purchase tickets. As expected, I was not selected in the lottery - apparently there had been over 90,000 applicants, and there are only a couple hundred seats for each home game. So when the remaining tickets went on sale over the phone, I was determined to get through. I went to my friend's house, where we watched the Spring Training game that was on TV. At 3:00, when the ticket sales started, we began dialing. We used my friend's home phone, my cell phone, her two cell phones, and her husband's cell phone. Finally, after 6:30, I got through! I waited on hold for 20 minutes, wondering if I'd ever be able to actually talk to someone, and whether there would be any tickets left when I did. When I did finally get through, I had no problem getting four standing room tickets to my first choice for a game. I was finally going to get to go on the Green Monster! (My friend decided to order pizza for dinner, and as she called the restaurant I remarked to her husband, "Wow, she got through on the first try!")

A couple of days later, I received an email saying I had been chosen for "Phase Two" of the online Green Monster sales. Sales started at noon on a weekday, when I would be at work, so my father was going to try for me. As is typical of Red Sox online transactions, the page did not load when he clicked the link. So naturally he hit Reload, and when it did load it told him he couldn't continue because the page had already loaded. After dialing repeatedly, he got through to the ticket office on the phone, where he explained what had happened. They let him complete the transaction over the phone (it wasn't easy finding a game with four seats available that I didn't already have a ticket for, but they did), and we had Green Monster seats! When we got there for the game, the seats were so fabulous that they were worth all the stress and aggravation.

By now I had already expended a lot of time and energy into the 2004 season... and it hadn't even started yet!

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This page and all photos copyright © 2004-2005 by Kristen D. Cornette.