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!)