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Ringing In The New Year

Friday, April 4, 2014 – Fenway Park, Section 42

Brewers 6, Red Sox 2

I had good luck over the winter when the four-game Sox Pax went onsale, and I managed to get through the Virtual Waiting Room early enough to get a package that included Opening Day before they sold out.  So while I didn’t need to wait in the day-of-game ticket line this year, I still went in to Fenway early.  It was my 14th Fenway Park opener, but it was also the third World Series ring ceremony of my lifetime, something that just ten years ago I thought I’d go my whole life without seeing at all.

Obligatory Opening Day shot of Fenway's facade. Yawkey Way was quiet at 10 am, but it would soon fill up.

Obligatory Opening Day shot of Fenway's facade. Yawkey Way was quiet at 10 am, but it would soon fill up.

I bought a Media Guide in the souvenir store, and then headed around the corner onto Van Ness Street.  I waited for a little while outside the players’ parking lot, but I figured most of the players were already inside, and any celebrities arriving for the ceremony would be pulling in later.  So I continued down Van Ness and onto Lansdowne Street, then completed the lap around to the front of the park again.

There's a new banner on the fence outside the players' parking lot.

There's a new banner on the fence outside the players' parking lot.

The back of the center field scoreboard, as seen from Lansdowne St.

The back of the center field scoreboard, as seen from Lansdowne St.

The bowling pin from Lucky Strike stopped at a concession stand outside Fenway. Hey, everyone's gotta eat!

The bowling pin from Lucky Strike stopped at a concession stand outside Fenway. Hey, everyone's gotta eat!

At 11:00, I went to Gate C, where the Red Sox Nation line usually forms to go in a half hour early.  Some  Opening Days they do let us in early, but some they don’t.  Today they didn’t, so I waited till 11:35 when all the gates opened and went in, picking up my annual schedule magnet on the way.  There aren’t too many changes to the ballpark this year.  Most of the updates involved adding 2013 to the list of World Series wins on displays throughout the park.

There's a new display of memorabilia from the 2013 season in an old ticket booth inside Gate A. The only problem is they had to take down the 1946 World Series display to make room.

There's a new display of memorabilia from the 2013 season in an old ticket booth inside Gate A. The only problem is they had to take down the 1946 World Series display to make room.

This display on the ramp up to the grandstand level got an update.

This display on the ramp up to the grandstand level got an update.

The banner that hangs above Yawkey Way has actually been in place since Halloween, the day after the Red Sox sealed their victory, but this was my first chance to get a picture of it from above.

The banner that hangs on Yawkey Way has actually been in place since Halloween, the day after the Red Sox sealed their victory, but this was my first chance to get a picture of it from above.

There's a new banner up here, too.

There's a new 2013 banner up here, too.

One of the things that supposedly has changed this year is the third base deck behind the grandstand.  I couldn’t get in there to see it, because it was blocked off for a large private party.  But I did glimpse an ice sculpture of the World Series logo, and Larry Lucchino hob-nobbing with the guests.  I was glad to see that the pizza was still $5, and I got my coupon for a free soda at the Designated Driver booth inside Gate C, so even though they expanded their menu options with a lot of new expensive items, it’s still possible to grab something to eat without breaking the bank.

At 12:30, I went up to my seat in row 45 of the bleachers, five rows from the back wall.  (For reference, the red seat that marks Ted Williams’ 502-foot home run was eight rows in front of me in row 37.)  The ring ceremony started shortly after 1:00, and it lived up to the hype.  From the highlight montage, to the marathon bombing survivors delivering the rings, to cheering the players as they were introduced, to the tribute to fallen firefighters, to Pedro, Tek, and Lowell carrying in the trophies, I was teary-eyed through the whole thing.

Just like the previous two ring ceremonies, the day started with banners representing the Sox' wins in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918.  These were followed by giant ones for 2004, 2007, and finally 2013.

Just like the previous two ring ceremonies, the day started with banners representing the Sox' wins in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. These were followed by giant ones for 2004, 2007, and finally 2013.

Marathon bombing survivors, and the families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier delivered the rings.

Marathon bombing survivors and the families of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier delivered the rings.

The players check out their new bling. Left to right: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Xander Bogaerts, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes.

The players check out their new bling. Left to right: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Xander Bogaerts, David Ross, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes.

Ryan Dempster returned to get his ring, and he brought his son with him. Quintin Berry, now in the minors with the Orioles, also returned, as did eight players currntly in Triple-A with the Red Sox.

Ryan Dempster returned to get his ring, and he brought his son with him. Quintin Berry, now in the minors with the Orioles, also returned, as did eight players currently in Triple-A with the Red Sox.

After the 2013 Champions raised the flag, the firefighters from Engine 33 and Ladder 15, who lost two of their own in a deadly blaze last week, helped lower it to half-staff.

After the 2013 Champions raised the flag, the firefighters from Engine 33 and Ladder 15, who lost two of their own in a deadly blaze last week, helped lower it to half-staff.

After the player introductions and the National Anthem, there was a flyover by a Coast Guard helicopter.

After the 2014 players were introduced and the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops combined to perform the National Anthem, there was a flyover by a Coast Guard helicopter.

Champions from the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots display their hardware from the past decade. (OK, not the Bruins, since they have to give the Stanley Cup back at the end of their year - but they were represented in the ceremony.) That's some serious Boston bling!

Champions from the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots display their trophies from the past decade. (OK, not the Bruins, since they had to give the Stanley Cup back at the end of their year - but they were represented in the ceremony.) That's some serious Boston bling!

Mark Recchi of the Bruins; Ty Law, Troy Brown, and Tedy Bruschi of the Patriots; Leon Powe of the Celtics; and Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, and Mike Lowell of the Red Sox hoist their hardware. Outgoing Mayor Tom Menino handed the ball off to new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who threw out the first pitch.

Mark Recchi of the Bruins; Ty Law, Troy Brown, and Tedy Bruschi of the Patriots; Leon Powe of the Celtics; and Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, and Mike Lowell of the Red Sox hoist their hardware. Outgoing Mayor Tom Menino handed the ball off to new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who threw out the first pitch.

And then, after the emotional ceremony ended with Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millar, and a bunch of kids saying “Play ball,” there was a game to be played too.  While the morning had started off sunny, it clouded over during the ceremony, and by the time the game started it was already feeling cold.  The wind was whipping in from behind the bleachers steadily throughout the game.  There’s a new video board on the right field facade, which I couldn’t see from my seat in the bleachers but I got a look at later on, that showed the temperature was 41°, and there was a definite wind chill factor going on in the back rows of the bleachers.  After the Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the second, I put on my knit winter hat.  The Red Sox answered with a run on a walk, a hit, and an error in the second, and tied it with a Will Middlebrooks homer in the third.  In the fifth, I finally gave in and put on gloves, which made keeping score difficult and clapping impossible.  With the game still tied at the seventh inning stretch, I made my move around to the infield grandstand to find an empty seat that wasn’t as windy, and wound up in Section 16.

Big Papi bats in the eighth.

Big Papi bats in the eighth.

This was the coldest of my 14 Fenway Park openers, and one of the coldest games I've ever been to.

This was the coldest of my 14 Fenway Park openers, and one of the coldest games I've ever been to. But I still wish it had gone extra innings if that meant we could pick up the win.

It was a little better without the wind, and I pulled out the fleece blanket I brought in case the game went extra innings.  Unfortunately a disastrous four-run ninth inning by Edward Mujica made that a moot point, and the Sox dropped the game.  I hope they get less sloppy once it’s not freezing cold out, because I’d sure like to see another one of these ring ceremonies next year!

One Response to “Ringing In The New Year”

  1. Greg Caliri - April 7th, 2014

    We were in 42 as well… thanks for describing the game and the activities. Yeah it was COLD… but we lasted 7 innings…

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