I had never been so excited standing in a cramped subway car. It seemed that the universe had decided at that exact moment to take a sample of the most irritating types of subway passengers and place them all in one car at the same time. There was the guy who seemed unaware that the use of deodorant has long been an unspoken social norm, the teenager blasting Taylor Swift’s latest croon so loud through her headphones you wondered if your own hearing might go, the loud older ladies who gabbed on about the trifles of their recent shopping trip which wouldn’t be that much of a problem except they decided to sit on each side of you rather than asking if you would move down (which I would have!), and, as if that weren’t enough, the guy who propped his bag against your leg because to him people are simply objects to prop stuff against. And, I was right in the middle of this motley crue, happy and excited. I was on my way to Fenway Park!
This is my favorite time of year. Spring. Hope springing eternal and all that stuff. It’s the time of year when winter is in its death throes and outdoors once again seems like such an inviting and pleasant place to be. People seem happier and the sun shines longer. It’s also the beginning of the new baseball season.
Recently, the weird, annual American phenomenon, baseball spring training, started again. Major League players made their way to small towns in Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida to shake off the rust and prepare themselves for the new season. For me, spring training is just as much a harbinger of spring as the first buds appearing in a garden. Its start is a cosmic sign that winter is over and the warmth of spring and summer are here.
There is no place that I associate baseball with more than Fenway Park—the home of the Boston Red Sox. It is the oldest still active Major League baseball park in the United States (established as the Red Sox park in 1912). It oozes history—Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, even Babe Ruth all played on its grass. Its peculiar characteristics make it memorable. The Green Monster in left field, Pesky’s Pole in right, Williamsburg, the Triangle, and the Lone Red Seat give Fenway a unique feel. Being there makes you feel connected to the great American past time.
Of course, the best way to visit Fenway is to go to a ballgame. That’s how I found myself on the subway car. I was on my way to the game. It wasn’t just any game. That night the New York Yankees, the scourge of every Red Sox fan, had come to Beantown. I had grown up in the south and had never thought I would get closer to Fenway than Red Sox highlights on ESPN. Now, I was on my way to a Red Sox game.
After getting off the subway, I followed the blue and red clothed crowd to the stadium. I walked past the historic Cask ‘n Flagon (voted the best baseball bar in America by ESPN), down historic Yawkey Way, and into Fenway. After buying the obligatory beer and hotdog, I found my seat, settled in for the game, and began soaking up the memories. The Red Sox, losers of the last three, turned it around that night against their arch-rivals and beat the Yankees 4-3.
After the game, I remained behind my friends and other fans as they cleared out of the stadium and began making their way home. I watched the crews begin to rake the field and clean up the stadium. I didn’t want to leave. But, a man in a yellow jacket that read with ominous black letters “Park Security” stopped by and implored me to exit. Reluctantly, I rose from my seat. As I walked down the steps, I took one look black at the lit up baseball wonderland I was now leaving. It made me sad to leave, but, suddenly and with a flood of joy, I remembered. . . . I had tickets for tomorrow night’s game!