Sunday, April 20, 2014

Worshipping at the Temple of Baseball

May 13th, 2010 | 13 comments »

Last weekend, I worshipped at the temple of baseball, otherwise known as visiting Fenway Park.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: visiting Fenway Park is a MUST for any baseball fan.  The fact that I’m also a Red Sox fan only makes the experience that much more special…even when they lose…even when they are decimated by the Yankees at both games I attend!

Those who follow me on Twitter got to feel like they toured Fenway Park with me last Friday, but for the rest of you, I’ve uploaded my pictures on the slideshow below. 

If you’ve never been, visiting Fenway Park is like stepping back in time.  I’ve talked to a few people who see that as a negative, but the overwhelming response by fans (of any club) seems to be that they feel a little magic when they enter the turnstiles. 

The experience begins when you eagerly await outside the arched doorways with their green metal gates.  Then somehow above the roar of the crowd that has gathered outside the games, you hear the clanging and clicking of the metal as they roll up the gates, just like in the old days!  You step up with your ticket and push through the turnstile and you can swear you see men in suits with cigars making their way to the stands. 

The pictures is complete as you make your way through the stadium, which is quite cramped in areas.  From the original 1912 wooden seats in the grandstand to the beams holding up the upper leavel which can obstruct part of your view, the Red Sox have done a terrific job of maining this historic jewel.  Every time I go, I love knowing that I’m attending a game with my dad just like kids have done for generations.  I’m sitting in the same seats where someone once sat and watched Babe Ruth or Ted Williams play.  I’ve heard more than one person describe it as a “religious experience” for diehard baseball fans, and I wholeheartedly agree.   

I have been to ten of the existing ballparks and three that are no longer in service, and I can say without hesitation that Fenway Park holds an experience unlike any other.  It is a playoff atmosphere in the ballpark and around the surrounding neighborhood each and every time there is a home game.  You won’t see a Red Sox fan who isn’t wearing something Red Sox, whether it’s a shirt, hat, pin or other apparel.  It doesn’t matter who the opposing club is (although Yankees games like I’ve been to are the best) or what the club’s record is, Red Sox fans are all fanatics!  If you love baseball, it doesn’t matter what club you root for, you’ll enjoy a day at Fenway.  I know that it always leaves me wishing Braves fans (my other team of choice) were less apathetic at games.  And as an added bonus, Fenway is in Boston, one of the best cities in America.  The city is full of history, easy to get around, has great public transportation, is clean and has beautiful weather in the summer.  All baseball fans should make the pilgrimage to Fenway at least once!

Make sure you don’t miss

Batting Practice from the Green Monster: become a member of Red Sox Nation for just $14.95 and you can watch the Red Sox batting practice from the Green Monster at any home game.  You’ll need to arrive an hour before the gates open to the public, and you’ll be allowed inside half an hour before gates open to the public.  You’ll be escorted up to the Green Monster, where you can attempt to catch a batting practice homerun.  Terrific way to experience the Green Monster without having to buy one of the pricey tickets up there.  When the half hour is up, head down to the lower level in right field and go after the fouls and homers hit down there.  Watch out if you stand in front of Pesky’s Pole though, as foul balls seem to slice into the seating bowl out of nowhere.  A kid just a few feet away with me was nailed in the arm when he wasn’t paying attention – not pretty!

Fenway Park Tours: you absolutely must go on a Fenway Park Tour.  In fact, go on one even if you’ve been on one before.  I’ve been on two now (one in 2002 and one in 2010) and each guide is a little different.  You’ll get to spend 50 minutes inside Fenway Park learning all of the tidbits that make Fenway magical.  When we went on the tour in 2002, we were able to take pictures standing in front of the Green Monster and stare up at all of the dimples on the wall from balls that have crashed into it.  We were also able to sit in the dugout and take photographs.  However, on the tour we went on in 2010, we were told that they no longer tour the field, except in post-game tours.  We did get to sit on the Green Monster though in 2010, where seats didn’t even exist in 2002.  Tour tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the tour.  The tours run from 9-4 during the season, seven days a week (not sure about off-season).  If the Red Sox ticket office is not yet open, you go to the Team Store across Yawkey Way from the stadium for tickets.  It’s only $12 for adults and worth every penny.  Quite a few of the pictures below are from the tour, when it’s much easier to take photographs without people getting in your way.  As for the post-game tour that takes you around the warning track to the Green Monster, you buy those tickets from a booth inside the stadium during the game.

Yawkey Way: this street right outside the stadium is open to ticketed guests only the few hours before game time.  There are street vendors with food and souveniers, and it’s a fun atmosphere.  Be sure and look up above the Team Store sign for the day’s lineup, which is presented in photographs.  I took a picture of it as we walked through Fenway Park on the tour, which you can see in the slideshow below.

Original Ticket Booths: be sure you take a look at the ticket booths inside Gate A, which are the original ticket booths for Fenway Park.  They are no longer in use, but do display historic Red Sox memorabilia.  You can see these in the photographs below.

Grandstand Seating: I definitely think part of the Fenway experience in sitting in the grandstand seating, which features the original wooden seats from 1912 (although they’ve been painted, water-proofed, and some replaced).  Are they the most comfortable seats in baseball?  No, and they’re particularly lacking in leg room in the infield.  However, sitting in them completes that feeling of attending a game way back when.  I think sitting in them has to be part of your experience.

Bleacher Bar: another new addition we noticed is the Bleacher Bar, found near Gate C on the outside of Fenway Park.  Look through the pictures below and you’ll see one of a restaurant that looks out into centerfield through an open garage door.  This door is open when there is not a game (and closed during games).  So, go grab a bite to eat and gaze out into Fenway from centerfield!

Rubber Baselines: the most interesting thing I’ve noticed about Fenway is something I noticed the first time I visited in 2002.  The baselines are rubber!  Watch closely before the game and you’ll see them sweeping them off.  Because I’ve told this story and had people who refused to believe me, I took a picture of rubber basepath just past first base, which you’ll see in the pictures below.

Now for the pictures (you’ll even catch me in a few)… 

As a side note, the ownership group has done a great job of updating Fenway over the past ten years.  I went in 2002, 2005 and now 2010 and there’s something new and updated every time I go, while they still maintain the integrity and history of the ballpark itself.  Modern conveniences like cupholders have been added, additional seating areas have been added, flat screen tvs have been added in seating areas and the concourses, etc.  For a full list of the improvments made in the past ten years, see here.

Bottom line, baseball fans…book your trip to see Fenway now!  (Hmm, I think the department of tourism should pay me!)

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13 Responses to “Worshipping at the Temple of Baseball”

  1. Tweets that mention » Blog Archive » Worshipping at the Temple of Baseball -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristi Dosh. Kristi Dosh said: All about my trip to Fenway (with pictures!): http://www.itsaswingandamiss.com/2010/05/13/worshipping-at-the-temple-of-baseball/. #MLB [...]

  2. Larry@IIATMS

    Ahhh, Fenway. An economic albatross around the neck of the Red Sox. May she live forever.

  3. Kristi Dosh

    Oh Larry, will we ever agree on anything? :)

    Do you really think the Red Sox could make more money in a brand new stadium? Ticket prices are on the high end and they’ve sold out every game since May 15, 2003. Not to mention, thousands of fans a year come to see the ballpark, not the team. I understand it’s the smallest ballpark, but would they really do better in a new stadium? I think it’s debatable and a big risk.

    Not to mention I practice in the area of historic preservation and would have a heart attack if they tore her down!

  4. Larry@IIATMS

    Keep disagreeing with me, Kristi. It just makes you feel like family.

    Besides, it’s not what I think that matters. It’s what Forbes thinks. http://bit.ly/b74KVT

    “The Boston Red Sox had the highest local television ratings (9.5) in baseball in 2009 and have captured two World Series since being acquired by John Henry in 2002. But the team needs a new stadium if they are going to keep up with their archrival Yankees… Fenway Park does not have the premium seating or sponsorships to compete with the Bronx Bombers…”

  5. Brad@IIATMS

    Besides, it’s not what I think that matters. It’s what Forbes thinks.

    My guess is that it’s more important what the owners of the Red Sox think: http://bit.ly/9Sd16D

  6. Kristi Dosh

    Yes, thank you, Brad!

    The Yankees moved because they wanted more luxury boxes to sell. Who is to say that Bostonians would even support a new ballpark? They didn’t when this was an issue in the late 90s. What if they didn’t buy the boxes or the seats? What about all the tourist traffic that would end? Most every Boston fan I have met is proud of Fenway and its history.

    Put simply, Yankees fans care more about flash and cash…whereas Red Sox fans care more about history and the game itself (they’d have to in order to endure those cramped, wooden seats)! :)

    And I love debating with you, Larry! Can’t wait to find something we agree on!

  7. Brad@IIATMS

    We’ll have to be careful, Kristi. I also tend to disagree and debate with Larry, so it wouldn’t look good if we appear to be teaming up on him.

  8. Larry@IIATMS

    Kristi, not nice what you said about Yankee fans. Do you REALLY want to get into a discussion of which team’s fans are proudest and most knowledgeable about their history? Or which team has a history most deserving of fan pride? Really?

    Should we take a look together at how Bosox Fan Prototype Bill Simmons has already publicly given up on the 2010 season? Would you like me to cite to you a dozen other examples of the same thing? You should be careful before holding up the BoSox fan as some kind of model.

    While we’re on the topic of “historic preservation”, you may want to take a look at which team preserves its core group of players … and which team has to fly in its most famous players for cooked-up ceremonies (where the theme is “all is forgiven” even more than “thanks for the memories”) after these players have retired from other teams.

    I will take a deep breath now.

    Honestly, I have nothing but respect for BoSox fans. Guys like Simmons, and the MSM guys I read in the Globe, are not typical fans. I know that you feel respect for Yankees fans, some of whom are your friends and most avid readers. But careful, young about-to-be-published author. Bashing a team is one thing, and bashing their fans is quite something else.

  9. Kristi Dosh

    Wow, I thought putting the smiley face emoticon would reflect that I was kidding…next time I’ll be sure and put the actual words “just kidding.” I was, in fact, just kidding.

    Really, I was just trying to point out how different the fan bases are in terms of their feelings towards their stadium (and nothing else). I was surprised to find very little commentary on Yankees fans being displeased about the move from the old ballpark. Whereas, the Boston fans are extraordinarily protective of Fenway and prefer having a historic stadium to a brand new stadium.

    As someone who has practiced historic preservation law for a few years, I have an affinity for historic ballparks. I even wrote a legal journal article about it a few years ago. However, even I chose to buy a house that was brand new construction versus buying a historic home. So, I don’t think new construction is evil or anything.

    Mostly, I was just pointing out the difference between how the fan bases view the stadiums. I’m sorry if I offended you, but I honestly meant that second to last paragraph as a joke, which is why I included the smiley emoticon. And I was only commenting on the stadiums, not the teams themselves.

    I hate the Yankees because they’ve beat my Braves and my Red Sox in postseason play and broken my heart. However, I do not hate Steinbrenner, have never said anything negative about how he runs the team, and have never said anything negative (as anything more than a joke) about the fans. Yes, Yankees fans can be loud and obnoxious, but so can Red Sox fans…Braves fans are too apathetic, which I hate more than loud and obnoxious. The majority of my followers on Twitter and this site, and even a huge number of people in my “real life” are Yankees fans and I love you all for your passion for baseball, even if you’ll never find me rooting for your team. Hope this clears things up!

  10. Larry@IIATMS

    Kristi, the smiley face seemed to relate to the part about the seats being uncomfortable. If I overreacted, sorry.

    There was considerable unhappiness in NY about losing the original Yankee Stadium. But we have a different history with our baseball teams. New York still carries the collective trauma (and really, this is not too strong a word) of the departure of the Dodgers and the Giants. So, the number one concern was (and always will be) keeping the team in New York. (In contrast, you don’t hear so much about Boston’s lingering grief over the loss of the Braves. Different towns.)

    New Yorkers well remember the sight of the wrecking ball leveling the Polo Grounds (which was historic) and Ebbets Field (which was historic and deeply loved). The old Madison Square Garden is gone (as is the old Boston Garden).

    You may laugh at the idea that the Yankees might leave New York. But remember that New York’s football teams play in the New Jersey marshlands. There was talk for YEARS in NY about the Yankees playing on the west side of Manhattan, or (yes) in New Jersey.

    The Yankees still play in the south Bronx, within sight of the old Stadium. The dimensions of the old stadium were preserved, as were some of the architectural features. They added a retro scoreboard that looks like the one from my childhood. Kristi, you work in historic preservation, so you know that sometimes you can’t save an historic building; sometimes the best you can do is to preserve an area’s historic character.

  11. Kristi Dosh

    I agree with you that there could be fear of the Yankees leaving the Bronx. I never said they didn’t have good reasons to build a new stadium. I was just commenting more about the public uproar over the Red Sox moving from Fenway. Their fans seem far more protective of their ballpark than New York fans were over Yankee Stadium. Just an observation, not really a judgment.

    I, by no means, think every building or stadium should be saved. A huge part of the article I wrote was about applauding efforts to save parts of ballparks. For example, I love what the Braves did. For those who don’t know, they left most of the wall up that went around the stadium. They also left up the section of the fence where Hank Aaron’s 715 went over the wall. My favorite part, though, is that they laid in bronze bases where the old bases were and drew the basepaths out. I love being able to walk around the parking lot (which is what it now is) when it’s empty and walk the old basepaths.

    I honestly was just trying to comment on something interesting I’ve noticed in terms of the attitude towards the stadiums by the fans. I’m definitely not making a judgment as to whether one is right and the other wrong. I definitely wanted our new stadium in Atlanta.

  12. Brad@IIATMS

    I think Yankees’ fans were less protective of Yankee Stadium for two primary reasons. One, the early 70s remodeling so drastically altered the park that strong attachment was based on only 30 years of history. Had it still been much like the original stadium — as Fenway is — I suspect there would have been more of an outcry.

    On top of all that, I think Yankees fans were kind of inured to the fact that the team was determined to get a brand-new facility. Fifteen or so years of team-based posturing was bound to have that effect.

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