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Postmortem

October 23, 2021

It’s always sad when baseball season ends, but overall this season well exceeded my expectations. When the season started, and ballparks were at limited capacity, I wondered if they’d even be able to play a full season before having to shut down again. It was so exciting to be able to get to an early April game, after not being at Fenway for a year and a half. Even though they lost that first game, it felt so good to be back “home.”

And then we were treated to a season full of entertaining wins, dramatic comebacks, home run cart rides, and raucous Fenway crowds. As we welcomed back our returning stars, new fan favorites were born. We got to know newcomers Kiké Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, and Kyle Schwarber. We watched rookies Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, and Bobby Dalbec make meaningful contributions. We were reunited with old friends Travis Shaw, José Iglesias, and Chris Sale.

The chase for the playoffs came down to the wire, but the Red Sox made the cut – then knocked out the hated Yankees and the 100-win Rays, and came within two games of the World Series. But most importantly, baseball became fun again. And with their run lasting late into October, that means it’s only a little over three months until Truck Day.

At home in our socially-distant “pod” for the second game of the year.

Kiké Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber celebrate after a home run in ALDS Game 3.

A nearly-full house on July 10 against the Phillies.
In the shade of the grandstand on a hot July afternoon.
Bobby Dalbec got a curtain call after his two homer night on August 26.
I ended up making it to 19 games, including two during their improbable but electric postseason run.
Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers continued to lead the team.
We got to see three walkoff wins in person, including Christian Vazquez’s 13th inning home run to end a thrilling ALDS Game 3.
Posted on October 23, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games, Personal

Come From Behind

Monday, June 28, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 32

Red Sox 6, Royals 5

After a fun weekend sweep of the Yankees, the Royals came to town. Garrett Richards gave up two singles and a home run to the first three batters of the game, then allowed two more homers in the second (and almost a third, if Kiké Hernandez hadn’t reached over the bullpen fence to rob one), and the Sox found themselves down 5-1 in the second. But they were becoming known for their ability to come back, and Hunter Renfroe’s two homers drove in the tying and go-ahead runs, while Richards settled in and the bullpen helped hold Kansas City scoreless the rest of the way.

My pics from another come from behind win – and my yet-to-be-accomplished obsession with getting a picture of someone riding in the home run cart – are below.

Garrett Richards made a big deal of going to the rosin bag multiple times in the first inning. He had been struggling since the crackdown on sticky substances.
Kiké Hernandez led off with a home run for the second night in a row.
I wasn’t able to get a pic of Kiké in the home run cart, but here he is getting congratulated by Hunter Renfroe right after getting out.
When Bobby Dalbec rode the cart after his home run, I did at least get a glimpse of his batting-gloved hands reaching up for high-fives from his teammates.
Garrett Richards settled down after the second, and ended up pitching into the sixth.
Panorama from behind the plate.
From this angle, I still couldn’t see the home run cart, so here’s Hunter Renfroe getting greeted in the dugout after his game-tying homer. I love that Tek and Chris Sale are among those rushing over to get everything ready.
Here’s Hunter Renfroe launching his second homer of the game to give the Sox the lead. If it hadn’t hit off the National Car Rental sign, it might have gone all the way to the Citgo (wink, wink).
Notice what’s wrong with this pic of Rafael Devers’ at-bat in the eighth? The Citgo sign has been turned off. It used to stay lit until midnight, but tonight it was out just before 10:00.
Red Sox win!
Posted on June 28, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Start Spreading the Brooms

Sunday, June 27, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 9, Yankees 2

The Red Sox had already swept the Yankees in New York earlier this month, and they had dramatic wins in the first two games of this series. It was a little strange to have the first Fenway meeting of these two teams be in late June, and it was also unusual to play a Sunday game against them in the afternoon. But it felt right to have a packed house for the first time all year, with Friday and Saturday being the first two sellouts of the year.

After Eduardo Rodriguez got quickly through a 1-2-3 first, Kiké Hernandez homered on the first pitch of the home half, and the Red Sox kept it rolling from there. Raffy Devers blasted a three-run homer later in the first, J.D. Martinez launched one in the third, and Christian Vazquez padded the lead with his own round-tripper in the eighth. Hunter Renfroe made a diving catch with a somersault to end the sixth, right after the Yankees had gotten on the board. When Darwinzon Hernandez got into a little trouble in the seventh, Garrett Whitlock got him out of the mess, and stayed in to face the minimum in the eighth. Newcomer Yacksel Rios closed it out in the ninth, as we chanted, “Sweep, sweep, sweep,” gleefully in the stands.

My favorite pictures from the day are below.

Ed-Ro looked like himself today, and turned in a quality start.
Raffy Devers is greeted by his teammates after launching a monstrous 3-run homer in the first inning.
Xander went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Christian Vazquez is greeted at the plate by Marwin Gonzalez after his home run.
Newcomer Yacksel Rios shut the door in the ninth.
As Eck would say, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
The final strike. We were chanting “Sweep, sweep sweep” throughout the ninth.
Red Sox win!
Posted on June 27, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Walk It Off

Monday, June 14, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 33

Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Monday afternoon brought heavy rain as we were driving in to Boston, but it stopped long enough for us to walk in from the car, and then our seats were under cover in left field. Unlike the rainy afternoon game we went to in May, this time the stadium lights were on, and the grounds crew came out right on time, 40 minutes before the start of the game, to remove the tarp and get everything ready. After a wild win at my last game on Thursday, the Red Sox had opened their series against the Blue Jays with a walkoff win on Friday night, then were dealt blowout losses on Saturday and Sunday. (I usually like to go to Sunday games because parking is free at meters, but I was on-call for work and opted for the Monday instead. That ended up being a great choice, even though it meant we had to pay for parking.)

A rainy Flag Day celebration.
Marwin Gonzalez checks the note card in his hat. The super-utility man who has played six positions this year – including pitching an inning in Sunday’s game – was in left field tonight.
With the Red Sox rotation battered around in their last few starts, and the team nearing the end of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days, Nathan Eovaldi came up huge with 6.2 innings of shutout ball. “Nasty Nate” didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning, and left with a 1-0 lead.
Matt Barnes gets a dramatic intro when he enters a game at Fenway. He’s been great as closer all year, but tonight he had the tough task of facing a Blue Jays lineup that had blasted eight home runs the day before, with only a 1-0 lead. As rain started up again, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was leading the league in homers, took him deep over the Monster to tie the game.

The Red Sox have become known for their late-game rallies and come-from-behind wins, and they had the right batters due up in the bottom of the ninth. Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez each singled to start the inning. Xander Bogaerts flied out to left, but then Rafael Devers launched a hit high off the Green Monster to drive in the winning run. The walkoff celebration ended up being in right field, as Raffy ran from his joyous teammates until they finally chased him down.

The chase.
The celebration.
Raffy and his teamates return to the dugout after an exciting walkoff win.
Posted on June 14, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Wild Night

Thursday, June 10, 2021 – Fenway Park, Section 43

Red Sox 12, Astros 8

This was my first game of the year in my Tenth Man Plan season ticket seats in the right field bleachers. It was worth the wait – it ended up one of the most crazy and entertaining games in a few years, and the enthusiastic, near-capacity crowd was into every pitch. Several lead changes saw the Red Sox go from down 1-0, to up 2-1, to down 3-2, to up 4-3, to down 7-4, then tied 7-7 followed by immediately going down 8-7, to finally taking a 12-8 lead for good. But that’s only half the story.

View from the bleachers in the early innings when it was merely a crazy roller-coaster of a game, before things got truly bizarre.

In a wild sixth inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Rafael Devers hit a fly to shallow center. The crowd roared as it clanked off the shortstop’s glove, then booed as the ump made the out sign. Confusion reigned as it was unclear who had been called out (Xander Bogaerts had gotten to the the second base bag just as the throw came in from the outfield) but finally the scoreboard showed IF6. We finally realized the infield fly rule had been called, so it was Devers who was out. Two batters later, with the game tied and the bases reloaded, a shirtless fan ran on the field and was tackled by security in front of home plate. Then Christian Vazquez was hit by a pitch to force in the go-ahead run, and Christian Arroyo walked to force in another. Bobby Dalbec followed with a double off the Monster to cap off the scoring with two more runs.

Hunter Renfroe and Kiké Hernandez on their way out to their outfield positions. Kiké made a nice diving catch late in the game.

But the craziness didn’t stop there. In the top of the seventh, the Astros had a runner on first and one out. The batter hit a dribbler that rolled just in front of the plate. He stepped out of the batters box like it had hit him, and I assumed it was a foul that had hit off his foot and rolled. The batter must have too, because he sauntered slowly back toward first. Vazquez was apparently the only one paying attention, because he realized the ump had signalled that the ball didn’t hit the batter and that it was, in fact, fair. So Vaz threw to first to retire the batter, then Dalbec chased the runner back toward second base, where he was tagged out by Arroyo for your classic 2-3-4 inning-ending double play. (Because it was the seventh inning stretch, the scoreboard never said what had happened; I had to look at the postgame comments and tweets to sort it all out later.) Astros manager Dusty Baker was ejected after expressing his displeasure over the play.

Matt Barnes came in to nail down the victory, and we celebrated a very wild and entertaining win. My favorite pictures from the night are below.

Christian Arroyo had a clutch three-run homer to tie the game in the fifth.
I spy in the dugout… Chris Sale!
A half-dressed trespasser is led off the field during a wild sixth inning that saw the Sox score five runs.
Fenway Park was rocking with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Posted on June 10, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Heat Wave

Monday, June 7, 2021 – Fenway Park, Loge Box 137

Red Sox 5, Marlins 3

It was fun to be back to a mostly-full Fenway Park! Today’s makeup game was 47 degrees warmer than last Sunday’s rainout (46° then and 93° today) and I got to see my first win in person since September of 2019. While Fenway was now allowed to be full capacity, we knew it wouldn’t be completely full. So instead of baking in our original bleacher seats, we found some nice ones that were not only shaded but spaced out enough from other fans that there was no one else in our row. My favorite pictures from the day are below.

Impressive how many people were able to make it, given the rescheduled date and 5:10 start time. It’s great to see Fenway back to almost full capacity again.
Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
I love this fact about Christian Arroyo: “As a kid, his mother used to read him ‘The Science of Hitting’ by Ted Williams.” I guess he was listening, as he reached base three times from the leadoff spot, drove in two, and scored twice.
Garrett Whitlock got the final out of the fifth.
Jason Varitek was on the top step to greet each player as they returned to the dugout. I was hoping someone would hit a homer so I could see them ride the laundry cart, but I guess I’ll have to wait till next time.
Xander Bogaerts had two hits and scored a run.
Hirokazu Sawamura ended both the sixth and seventh innings with a K as a nearly full house cheered him on.
Fenway Park stands as one in the ninth.
It’s been way too long since I’ve seen a Fenway victory. It was good to be back!
Posted on June 7, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

Back to Normal

Sunday, May 30, 2021 – Fenway Park

When we bought tickets to this game in March, it was limited to 12% capacity, so our seats were in a socially distant “pod” halfway back in the bleachers. Since then, the Red Sox had raised capacity to 25% in mid-May, and then as of Saturday allowed full capacity. A few days earlier, I was officially fully vaccinated, and excited to start being able to do the things I enjoy again. It had been almost two months since my last game, and the Red Sox were playing really well, only half a game out of first place, so I was really looking forward to this game.

The tarp was on the field when we arrived.

Despite being Memorial Day weekend, which should herald the unofficial start of summer, it was cold and rainy all weekend long. They had played Friday night’s game through a steady rain, and managed to get a break from the rain on Saturday, when it was merely cold and windy. Sunday’s forecast was for rain starting around 2:00 and getting heavier as the day went on. If they wanted to get the game in, they’d have to start on time at 1:00 and hope to get five innings in before it became unplayable. So when we got to the park and the stadium lights were off and there was no sign of the grounds crew, that was a bad sign.

When they send the guy out to bring the stuff back in from the bullpen, that’s a very bad sign.

It was only 46°, and we were bundled up in our early season gear. We found a place under cover and had some hot chocolate (because, as everyone knows, New England summers run on Dunkin’ hot chocolate). Finally at about 1:30, the announcement was made that the game was rained out. After getting back to the car, we heard it would be made up on a common off-day the following week. Only 8 days later, the forecast for the day of the makeup game was 95°. I think I’ll pass on the hot chocolate!

To no one’s surprise, the game was postponed.

With all the rainouts I’ve had tickets for over the years, today’s just felt like one more way that life was finally getting back to normal.

Posted on May 30, 2021 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2021 Games

My Favorite Game

October 10, 1999 – Fenway Park, Section 1

October 10 is the anniversary of my favorite game of the 500+ I’ve been to at Fenway Park – Game 4 of the 1999 Division Series against the Indians.  It’s my favorite not only because it was the first time I experienced the intensity of a playoff game in Boston, but because of the sheer improbability of my being there in the first place.

I was living in Atlanta in 1999 when the Red Sox made the playoffs.  Living a thousand miles away, I wasn’t able to camp out for tickets, but my brother in New Hampshire managed to get some for Game 4.  I was supposed to work that weekend and had used up all my vacation days, but I was able to trade in my Thanksgiving holidays, even though it was only early October.  I bought a plane ticket to Boston.  I was going to the game!  (Assuming, of course, that the Red Sox didn’t sweep – for surely there was no way they could be swept with Pedro Martinez pitching two of the five games, right?)

But before we knew it, Pedro was injured in Game 1.  The Sox lost.  It was still possible to win the series, but their psychological edge was gone.  Suddenly they went from invincible to very beatable.  Almost predictably, the Sox lost Game 2 by a big margin.  The morning of Game 3, my flight was scheduled to leave for Boston.  If they didn’t win when they played later that afternoon, there wouldn’t even be a Game 4, and I would have wasted the money for the plane ticket as well as the chance to have Thanksgiving off.  The word that kept going through my head as I boarded the plane was “delusional.”  I’d been following the Red Sox long enough to know their chances of winning even one game – let alone three straight – were pretty slim.  Back in that era, the thought of the Red Sox mounting a postseason comeback was unfathomable. But I got on the plane anyway, figuring that even if the worst happened, I’d still have a truly pathetic Red Sox fan story to someday tell the grandkids.

To my surprise, they won Game 3.  I did have a chance to go to Game 4!  And to my sheer delight, the Red Sox won, 23-7!  I wound up with bruises on both my knees from banging them on the seat in front of me every time I jumped up to cheer in that tiny little park.  But it was an incredible experience – the closest I’d ever come at that point in my life to feeling what it’s like to win – and one that I’ll always treasure.

Here’s a link to my Game Summary page to read more about that whole classic series: 1999 Division Series

Posted on October 10, 2019 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: Personal, Postseason

Parade Day!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

World Series Victory Parade

After their historic 108-win season was capped off with a World Series Championship, the Red Sox took to the streets of Boston for their victory parade.  As a season ticket holder, I was invited to the ceremony at Fenway to kick off the festivities.  I didn’t get an invite last time, but I had seen it on TV, and we were excited that we’d get to see the whole team get on the duck boats without having to camp on the street before sunrise just to get a good spot.

The display in the right field concourse that showed photos representing each of the 108 regular season wins was updated to include 11 more from the postseason.

The display in the right field concourse that showed photos representing each of the 108 regular season wins was updated to include 11 more from the postseason. (It was updated some time during the ceremony, because the final photo was missing when we first entered the park. Good thing we walked by it again on the way out!)

The ceremony was fun.  Kicked off by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, we got to hear from and cheer for Red Sox ownership, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, manager Alex Cora, World Series MVP Steve Pearce, ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, and Brock Holt.  It ended with a surprise visit from Jerry Remy, who missed the end of the season after undergoing cancer treatments.

Red Sox ownership Sam Kennedy, John W. Henry, Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Tom Werner now have four trophies to cart around to events. But Werner set it down facing to the side, and no one on the stage noticed. From the stands, people yelled out, "Rotate it," as our pictures all looked silly. Finally, one of the photographers on the stage sneaked over and fixed it, eliciting a cheer from the crowd.

Red Sox ownership Sam Kennedy, John W. Henry, Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Tom Werner now have four trophies to cart around to every event. But Werner set the newest one down facing to the side, and no one on the stage noticed. From the stands, people yelled out, "Rotate it," as our pictures all looked silly. Finally, one of the photographers on the stage sneaked over and fixed it, eliciting a cheer from the crowd.

First year manager Alex Cora pulled all the right strings all year long.

First year manager Alex Cora pulled all the right strings all year long.

Nathan Eovaldi got a warm welcome after his impressive performance, pitching multiple innings on back-to-back days as a starter and a reliever, including a record 97 pitches in relief in the 18-inning Game 3. His young son Jace also took to the mic to say, "Let's go, Red Sox!"

Nathan Eovaldi got a warm welcome after his impressive performance, pitching multiple innings on back-to-back days as a starter and a reliever, including a record 97 pitches in relief in the 18-inning Game 3. His young son Jace also took to the mic to say, "Let's go, Red Sox!" (You can also see that the trophies are lined up properly now.)

World Series MVP Steve Pearce, who grew up a Red Sox fan, addressed the crowd.

World Series MVP Steve Pearce, who grew up a Red Sox fan, addressed the crowd.

Brock Holt brought his son Griffin onto the stage.

Brock Holt, who became the first player to hit for the cycle in a postseason game during the Division Series, brought his son Griffin onto the stage.

It was great to see Jerry Remy onstage, and he looked like he was thrilled to be there.

It was great to see Jerry Remy onstage, and he looked like he was thrilled to be there.

We thought we’d get to see everyone board the duck boats inside the park like they’ve done in years past, but they didn’t; the ceremony ended and they went to board the boats in a roped off area outside the park.  From there it was a scramble to find a place where we could see the actual parade.  We ended up dashing up several flights of stairs (and around a barrier that may or may not have been meant to keep us out) to the top level behind the right field roof deck.  That turned out to be a good vantage point to see them all, though we were too far away for them to hear our cheers and acknowledge.

Cue the duck boats! We couldn't find space on the spiral staircase that goes down to the Big Concourse, so we went up to the right field roof deck to overlook the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston streets.

Cue the duck boats! We couldn't find space on the spiral staircase that goes down to the Big Concourse, so we went up to the right field roof deck to overlook the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston streets.

Pedro Martinez, who serves as a special instructor, holds one of the trophies aloft as he rides on a duck boat with Red Sox management.

Pedro Martinez, who serves as a special instructor, holds one of the trophies aloft as he rides on a duck boat with Red Sox ownership.

The duck boat with Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, and Eduardo Rodriguez rolls past.

The duck boat with Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, and Eduardo Rodriguez rolls past.

Lots and lots of people gathered at the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston, even climbing on the roof of the gas station.

Lots and lots of people gathered at the intersection of Ipswich and Boylston, even climbing on the roof of the gas station.

Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Tyler Thornburg, and Bobby Poyner go by in their duck boat.

Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, Tyler Thornburg, and Bobby Poyner go by in their duck boat.

Blake Swihart waves as his duck boat passes.

Blake Swihart waves as his duck boat passes.

When the last duck boat passed, we got the brilliant idea to hop on the T and go a few stops up to the Arlington/Boylston area ahead of the parade, and experience it again that way.   (Let the record show that if they had driven all the duck boats inside Fenway so that we didn’t have to go outside to watch the parade, this plan would have worked.)

On te way to the T station, we saw the 2018 banner flying over the John Hancock building. Its weather beacon was lit up with flashing blue and red to commemorate the World Series win.

On the way to the T station, we saw the 2018 banner flying over the John Hancock building. Its weather beacon was lit up with flashing blue and red to commemorate the World Series win.

But unfortunately the T was so packed it was going very slowly.  At both the Copley and Arlington stops, people dressed in Red Sox gear were packing the train because the parade had already passed them.  Not so at Boylston (yet), so we hopped off, ran up more flights of stairs, and saw the last duck boats were just coming through.  Not wanting to give up, we started rushing through Boston Common, dodging food trucks, skateboarders, and dogs in Halloween costumes along the way, trying to overtake the parade.

The duck boats pass by Boston Common, while my mother and I try to outrun a parade.

The duck boats pass by Boston Common, while my mother and I try to outrun a parade.

We (sort of) caught up as Mooke Betts' duck boat passed. In the back of the boat, Tzu-Wei Lin holds up the trophy.

We (sort of) caught up as Mookie Betts' duck boat passed. In the back of the boat, Tzu-Wei Lin holds up the trophy.

We did end up catching the last few players as their duck boats passed the Park Street station, albeit with my telephoto lens.  But hey, no one ever said Championships come easy!

Posted on October 31, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
Posted in: 2018 Games, Events

The Fenway 500

This week I reached a personal milestone – my 500th game at Fenway Park.  When I realized a year ago that my current pace was getting me close, I pulled out all my old scorecard books and ticket stubs and totaled them all up in a spreadsheet.  The big day came Monday, August 20, a game against the Indians.

Happy 500th to me!

Happy 500th to me!  That necklace that the Red Sox gave out after Big Papi hit his 500th home run comes in handy for all sorts of formal occasions.

It all started May 9, 1987.  Here’s the story of my first game at Fenway Park: May Ninth.  (The funny thing is I wrote this in 1998, when I had been to a whopping total of 15 games at Fenway.)

My second game (don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all) was the following month, with my school’s 8th grade Boston trip, where we came down from Maine to see the Aquarium, Science Museum, and a Red Sox game.  That’s why we we had gone as a family in May, so my first game wouldn’t be with my Yankee-fan science teacher.

The Fenway skyline and "skybox" seats as they were in 1987. I remember picking out that outfit so I could wear red socks to match.

The Boston skyline and Fenway’s “skybox” seats as they were in 1987. I remember picking out that outfit so I could wear red socks to match.

Over the next few years, we’d try to get to a game every summer, and then when I started at Providence College, there were school trips up to Boston once a year.  I remember borrowing a Class of ’94 sweatshirt from a friend (I was ’95) one time so I wouldn’t look out of place on a trip sponsored by a dorm of upperclassmen.

Ticket stub from my 4th game at Fenway, a 10-5 loss.  Certainly wouldn't have guessed at the time that 15 years later I'd have season tickets a few rows in front of where I sat that night.

Ticket stub from my 5th game at Fenway, a 10-5 loss. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed at the time that 15 years later I’d have season tickets just a few rows in front of where I sat that night.

After college, I went to grad school in Kentucky, then worked in Atlanta for a few years.  I always worked in a game at Fenway when I’d fly home to visit.  In 1998 I went to my first Red Sox road games, seeing them in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Anaheim that year.  (The 24 Red Sox road games I’ve seen in 10 ballparks over the next 20 years are not counted in my 500.)  Here’s the story of the game I flew up for in August 1999: Red Sox vs. Mariners.

I flew up to Boston for a game in August 1999. Remember when Pedro was late getting to the ballpark and Jimy Williams benched him and started Bryce Florie instead? That was my Game #14 (8/14/99).

I flew up to Boston for a game in August 1999. Remember when Pedro was late getting to the ballpark, and Jimy Williams benched him and started Bryce Florie instead? That was my Game #16 (8/14/99).

My favorite game of the 500 I’ve been to at Fenway was also my first playoff game, and only the 17th I’d ever attended.  It was Game 4 of the 1999 ALDS, in which the Sox staved off elimination by beating the Indians 23-7, and again it involved an improbable flight up from Atlanta.  Full story here: My Favorite Game.

Ticket from 1999 ALDS Game 4 on 10/10/99. The Red Sox won, 23-7.

Ticket from 1999 ALDS Game 4 on 10/10/99. The Red Sox won, 23-7.

After the 1999 season was over, I finally moved to Massachusetts.  My first act was to splurge and get tickets to 7 games at Fenway Park during the 2000 season.  It started as one game per month, but I added a second September game to see Carlton Fisk’s #27 retired.  That was game #23.

Game #22, on August 23, 2000, was the first time I kept score.  NESN was handing out K cards (competition for WEEI’s red K’s in the height of the Pedro Era) and there was a scorecard on the back.  Scoring had always fascinated me, but I thought it would be too complicated while focusing on the game.  Turns out it’s not, and a new obsession was born.  My other memory from that game is that there was a long rain delay before it started.  I was joking about making stuff up to write onto the scorecard, but then when the game finally got underway after 10:00, I was glad I hadn’t filled it all in fictitiously.  That was back in the days when a huge chain link fence separated the bleachers from the rest of the park.  Because that game started so late, they actually opened the gate and let the bleacher people sit anywhere they wanted.  When it finished up at 1:04 am (as conveniently noted on the scorecard), the T had stopped running, and we had to take a cab back to the car – the first of 3 times out of the 500 where I needed to call a cab.

In the lineup on the night of 8/23/00 were Jose Offerman, Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Carl Everett, Troy O'Leary, Lou Merloni, Jason Varitek, Mike Lansing, and Manny Alexander.  Mo Vaughn played first base for the Angels.

In the lineup on the night of 8/23/00 were Jose Offerman, Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach, Carl Everett, Troy O’Leary, Lou Merloni, Jason Varitek, Mike Lansing, and Manny Alexander. Tomo Ohka started, with Derek Lowe recording the save. Mo Vaughn played first base for the Angels.

I started buying a scorecard magazine every time I went.  I kept the first couple, but remember throwing out the one from September 9, 2000, (Game #24) because the Red Sox lost to the Yankees.  The next year I planned on going to 24 games, so I made my own scorecard book. Now I have a stack of 18 years’ worth.

Lots and lots of scorecards!

Lots and lots of scorecards!

Game #25 was Opening Day 2001. I’ve been to every Opening Day since (with a 13-5 record).  I went to 24 games in 2001 (12-12 record).  In 2002, my record was even worse (11-16), but Game #51 was an all-time classic – Derek Lowe’s no-hitter.  Full story here: Diary of a No-Hitter.

The first of many Opening Days. For me, 4/6/01 was Game #23.

The first of many Opening Days. For me, 4/6/01 was Game #25.

The Cowboy Up season of 2003 was successful for me – I went 21-9, including the night they clinched the wild card (Game #104, 9/25/03) and a dramatic win in ALDS Game 3 (Game #105, 10/4/03).  A walk-off win on April 15 (Game #77) finally brought my personal record above .500 to stay.  (My record after 500 Fenway games is 285-215, 70 games over.)

Game #107 (4/15/04) was the first game in the “Tenth Man Plan” package I bought for the 2004 season.  It was supposed to be a one-year package, but when the Sox won and the offseason became hectic, they made them renewable, and that’s how I became a season ticket holder.  (I’m 74-70 in those seats.)

Daniel Nava posed for pictures with fans on Yawkey Way on 8/3/10, before Game #289.

Daniel Nava posed for pictures with fans on Yawkey Way on 8/3/10, before Game #291.

I’ve been to some memorable games in the years that followed.  Game #135 was the ring ceremony on Opening Day 2005, when I got the last available ticket in the day-of-game line.  Games #185 and 186 were when Big Papi tied and broke the franchise home run record in 2006.  In Game #191 (4/22/07) the Sox hit four straight home runs.  Game #216 (10/5/07) was Manny Ramirez’s walk-off homer in the ’07 ALDS, which I got to see after camping out all afternoon in the day-of-game ticket line.  Game #303 (5/4/11) ended at 2:45 am after rain delays and extra innings, another time I needed a cab.  Game #326 (4/20/12) was Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary.  Game #373 (9/18/13) was Dollar Beard Night.  Game #379 (10/24/13) was the only World Series game I’ve been to (2013 Game 2, alas).  Game #458 (10/2/16) was David Ortiz’s final regular season game.

When the Red Sox have a promotion that anyone with a beard gets in for a dollar, you gotta do what you gotta do.  (Just ignore the fact that I spent an additional $6.99 plus tax on the beard.)

When the Red Sox have a promotion that anyone with a beard gets in for a dollar, you gotta do what you gotta do. (Just ignore the fact that I spent an additional $6.99 plus tax on the beard.) Game #373 was officially the cheapest ticket I ever purchased.

So now after 500 games, my record at Fenway is 285-215.  That includes a 7-5 postseason record.  It doesn’t count two that were rained out in less than five innings and had to be replayed in entirety, or twice that I had a ticket for the second game of a doubleheader but got let in early to see the end of the first.  Here are some more stats from my Fenway 500:

Fan Photo Days over the years have given me the chance to get pictures with Keith Foulke (Game #106, 4/18/04), David Ross (Game #348, 4/14/13), Xander Bogaerts (Game #425, 9/6/15), and Hanley Ramirez (Game #490, 5/20/18).

Fan Photo Days over the years have given me the chance to get pictures with Keith Foulke (Game #108, 4/18/04), David Ross (Game #350, 4/14/13), Xander Bogaerts (Game #427, 9/6/15), and Hanley Ramirez (Game #492, 5/20/18).

In 500 games, I’ve seen 34 walk-offs, 18 Opening Days, 12 postseason games, 4 uniform numbers retired, 3 clinching celebrations, 2 triple plays, and 1 no-hitter.  And no sooner was my milestone game in the books, than I was getting ready to come back two days later for Game #501.

Posted on August 20, 2018 · Permalink · Leave a comment · Share on Facebook
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