A perfect game with my son.
On Saturday 09/29/07, I attended a Red Sox game with my son Ben. It was Ben’s first Red Sox game. The success of the Red Sox in recent years has driven up demand for tickets, caused Family Bargain Games to be quietly eliminated, and restricted the number of seats a fan can purchase to four. So I have not been able to attend a Red Sox game with my family of five. In fact, I had not been to Fenway at all since 2004, when I attended three games (all with my older son Sam).
A friend of mine (you know who you are) graciously gave me two tickets to Saturday’s game, tickets that his company had received from a member of their board of directors. Knowing of my love of all things Red Sox, my friend offered me the tickets.
I watched the Boston’s 5-2 victory on 09/28/07 over the Twins with interest. Of course, I wanted the Red Sox to clinch the East Division title as soon as possible, and when the Yankees lost to the Orioles (10-9 in 10 innings), the clinch was complete. But if the Sox hadn’t clinched on Friday, then Ben and I could have witnessed the clinching on Saturday. The Sox did clinch the best record in baseball (and home field advantage for the playoffs) that night. But as it turned out, we got to experience a lot more than that.
Taking the subway is part of the whole Boston experience. I drove to the Alewife MBTA station (at end of the Red Line). We took the subway to Park Street Station, switched to the Green Line, and got off at Kenmore Square, just under the CITGO sign.
After working out way through scalpers and vendors and getting loaded down with paper (free posters, free newspapers, un-free program), we headed to the souvenir shop. I bought a Red Sox hat for Ben, a red Red Sox sweatshirt for me (always wanted one of those).
After entering Fenway, we got some food and starting watching the Twins take batting practice. We arrived about 5:30 for a 7:00 game. Our seats were just above the “triangle” section in center field. Balls are rarely hit there. To our left, lots of kids scuffled over balls that bounced into the stands past the bullpen area. After about 15 minutes, one ball rolled into the triangle. As a Minnesota Twins player ran to retrieve it, dozens of people from all angles yelled at him asking for the souvenir ball. I made eye contact with him, pointed to Ben, and said, “It’s my son’s first game!” He nodded and tossed the ball right to Ben, and I was there to help Ben catch it. So before the game even started, Ben had a baseball! I’ve been to dozens of games and have only come close to getting a ball once. (In 1987, I won “roof box” tickets (not what they’re called now) to a double header as part of a radio station promo. I moved one row back to get an unobstructed view. The next play, a foul ball landed my vacated seat. Never change your seat when watching a Red Sox game.)
So before the game even started, it was a perfect game.
The game featured great defense (Coco crisp made a great sliding catch), strong pitching (Tim Wakefield worked quickly to get his 17th win), and timely hitting (J.D. Drew hit a go-ahead 3-run home run propelling the Sox to a 6-4 victory). It also featured burgers and sausages, cotton candy, ice cream in Red Sox hats, and great father-son togetherness.
In the 7th inning, three batters came to the plate with two runners on. Each time I said, “This would be a good time for a 3-run home run!” The third time (when J.D. Drew was up), Ben said, “Dad, you’ve said that for the last three batters!” “Yes,” I replied, “but if one of them hits a home run, you can say that I called it!” As we were jumping up to celebrate J.D. Drew’s 3-run blast, Ben smiled and yelled to me, “You called it, Dad!”
My dad took me to a bunch of games when I was growing up. We’d drive down from Maine, hunt for a parking space on Beacon Street or Boylston Street, and walk to the park. I still have some of the signs that I made for those games. One time as we were walking to Fenway, I saw some guys throwing a sofa out of a window onto the sidewalk. “Dad, what’s that?” I asked. “That’s a fraternity, son,” he calmly and knowingly replied. So “fraternity” to me always meant “throwing furniture out the window.” I think this was my dad’s way of discouraging me from joining a fraternity. I lived in a dorm when I was in college.
When Ben and I were walking out of the park and back to the subway, we saw two guys “dressed” in person-sized plastic beer cups walking down the street. It didn’t look like they were wearing more than that underneath the cups. “Dad, what’s that?” Ben asked. “They’re probably in a fraternity, son,” I replied.
There was also a funny experience in the subway when a Sox fan reminded us, in no uncertain terms, that the Yankees suck! I guess that’s part of the experience too.
Perhaps a Red Sox game is meant to be experienced in pairs. It is quite a different experience to go to a Red Sox game with five people than with two. When I initially told Ben that I was taking him to his first Red Sox game, his eyes lit up. But here’s Ben’s recap from my kids’ Cannonball Shooters blog:
On the 29th, my dad and I went to my first Red Sox game. We drove to the Boston subway, took the train to one stop, then got on a different, slower one. When we were walking to Fenway Park, we saw a lot of people saying the same sentence: “Sellin’ extra tickets?” over and over again. I held up a sign at the game that said: 1st Game “Hi Mac!” with a baseball smiley face. Before the game, me and my dad got some food. I got a burger, my dad got a big pretzel. Later in the game in the sixth inning, we got some cotton candy and ice cream. It was COLD after eating the hollow “soft” serve in a Red Sox plastic hat. Coco Crisp made a sliding catch near center field where our seats were :-D. We caught a ball during batting practice and J. D. Drew hit a home run to our general direction but just landed below us near the bullpen. When we got home, I fell asleep as soon as I laid down.
So thank you, friend, for the tickets. Thank you, Twins outfielder, for the ball. Thank you, Red Sox, for the experience. And thank you, Ben, for the perfect game.