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May Ninth
The story of my first trip to Fenway

by Kristen D. Cornette

The early morning sun peeks through the window. Not usually one to arise any earlier than I have to, I spring from the bed and hurry to get ready.  Red socks. Check.  "No Better Club" banner, with the "NBC" in red. Check.  THE TICKETS. Check.

A three hour car ride. We wind through the narrow city streets, trying to catch a glimpse of our destination. My mother points out the area my grandfather used to park when he took her to games. A long walk away, but convenient for an easy getaway.

Finally: "There, see the light towers?"  "Where?"  "Oh, I see it!"  "There it is!"  FENWAY PARK.  We drive down Lansdowne Street. My father points out the Green Monster. From the outside, it actually looks small; the wall behind the center field bleacher seats is higher than it there. The 23-foot screen on top of the wall gives away its location. The park is nestled tightly in the middle of an ancient city block, and yet at the same time stands larger than life. This is Fenway Park, THE Fenway Park. Ted Williams played here, and Babe Ruth, and Carl Yastrzemski. But so did Bill Buckner, and Bucky Dent; we know those stories, too. Somehow, we find a parking space. It is 11:30, an hour and a half before game time.

We walk down Yawkey Way, taking in all the sights and sounds. Street vendors hawk their wares - Clemens T-shirts, 1986 AL Champs pennants, even Yankees hats (How could they sell those HERE, I think, hurt.) While scalpers conduct their business, others sell programs: "Hey, get your programs he-ah!" A slight breeze makes its way through the throngs of people meandering down the street, bringing with it the fragrant scent of Italian sausage and hot, doughy pretzels. We browse through the souvenir store across the street, then make our way toward the crowd now gathering near Gate B, which will be opening soon.

We enter as soon as the gates open, and after stopping to use the restrooms and purchasing our very first Fenway Franks, we head for our seats. Walking up the ramp to the field that first time is like emerging from the Underworld and going straight to Paradise. The field is so big, so bright, so green. Maybe it's just our eyes readjusting to the light, but the whole field sparkles. I am struck by how expansive the outfield is. The two-dimensional pictures I've seen on TV just don't capture its true dimensions. The Angels are taking batting practice. We find Section 8, Row TT. Way out in right field, and the seats are angled to face the Green Monster - we have to twist to see the infield. But this is my first game, and any seat actually inside the park is destined to become my instant favorite. Besides, right field is home to my favorite player, Dwight Evans.

From our seats, we watch the warm-ups. Al Nipper is pitching today, and he is stretching up against the Green Monster. We joke that he is holding the wall up. Other players take their final warm-up sprints across the field. We proudly join in the singing of the National Anthem. Evans runs out to take his place in right field. "Dewey! DEWEY!" we yell, believing he can actually hear us, all those rows back. But as I watch him, he turns his head ever-so-slightly toward the right field stands, and I know he is looking at me, to acknowledge my cheers. The game begins.

I don't remember much about the actual game. I know the Angels won, 8-1, and no one hit any home runs. I remember Rich Gedman's batting average coming into that game was .000. He had not reached a contract agreeement by the specified deadline, and was not allowed to renegotiate with the team until May 1, and he had been hitless his first week back. I know we cheered or booed appropriately for every ball and strike. We did the wave. We watched the flight of the beach balls in the bleachers. We stretched during the seventh inning stretch like we had never stretched before. I don't remember who else pitched, or any plays that were made, or how we scored our sole run, or even whether Gedman managed to get his first hit of the season.

But it didn't matter. It didn't matter that we lost, that Nipper pitched instead of Clemens, that our seats were so far away. For on that day - May 9, 1987 - the long, bumpy ride that is every lifelong Red Sox fan's journey through pleasure and pain, had begun.

May 9, 1987 Red Sox vs. Angels box score

Our view of the infield
Our view of the infield (in the days before the 600 Club)

Burks and Evans
Dewey and Ellis Burks patrol the outfield

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