FENWAY IN WINTER.

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We were in Boston on Sunday and Monday the week before Thanksgiving to see Springsteen, and on Monday we had a couple of hours between checking out of the hotel and having to meet friends at the venue. So I said, “Why don’t we take the Fenway tour?” TBF is still cranky at baseball in a major way, but it didn’t take much to persuade him. And, we thought, a random Monday in November, the tour will be empty, right? So it was a plan.

As we drove into Boston on Sunday, I realized that despite having been in Boston at least two dozen times in my youth, I had no freaking idea where Fenway Park was in relation to everything else. “You’ll see it from the highway,” TBF said, as we got closer to the city. And then – there was that John Hancock sign and Fenway green and – holy crap, there’s Fenway. Not only did I not have any idea where it was, but I had driven by it more than a few times and it never registered. Never.

(It’ll be worse if I tell you that before I got into Fordham, I was originally hoping to go to Boston University, right? Give me a break, I could tell you where every seminal rock club in Boston was back in the day. Baseball just wasn’t my thing.)

So on a grey Monday morning with gentle almost-snowflakes falling out of the sky, we took the T to Kenmore (appreciating the signs at every stop that had a picture of a baseball player and said, TAKE ANY TRAIN EXCEPT THE E LINE TO KENMORE) and walked around the corner and there it was, looming up next to the highway. God, I love a city ballpark. I love that there are cars and people and lives and businesses intertwined with baseball. You want to tell me it’s blasphemous and Shea is Just Wonderful where it’s located? Shea and Citi Field would be a million times more wonderful if it was part of the city instead of stuck out in the suburbs. I know, blame Robert Moses (TBF keeps blaming him for not having his bridge to Connecticut from Long Island).

Unintentionally, we ended up circumnavigating the park first: TBF had only been there once for a game, twice for concerts, so his familiarity of it didn’t extend more to “It’s got four sides. If we keep walking around it, we’ll eventually find where we need to be.” I liked the quiet and the photo opportunities presented by the grey winter light (it was vaguely snowing when we left the hotel that morning) but I also liked the idea of making the 1pm tour a lot more, so I had to pass on a lot of compositions I would have liked to have taken the time to record, but did still get a few poetic shots.

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By the time we bought our tickets and sprinted into the team store, where the tour started, there were at least 50 people (so much for having the tour to ourselves) milling around the GIGANTIC ENORMOUS CAVERNOUS team store (that had EVERY shirt by EVERY player in EVERY color and EVERY language, and that’s without the entire OTHER side full of jerseys and more advanced memorabilia — but more on that later), and we went off on the tour of “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” as the GIGANTIC banner along one side of the ramps stated (both of us immediately thinking, “Um, the people of CHICAGO might have a few words to say about that.”)

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The tour started in the press box, moved to the State Street Pavilion Boxes, and then past the Hall of Fame plaques and Cy Young Awards (where I had to physically restrain TBF from spitting on Clemens’ awards) down to The Most Uncomfortable Seats In Baseball (which will make you stop bitching about any seat at Shea ever again. No, seriously). No warning track, no Green Monster due to the construction, but it was still worth it to get inside Fenway, especially to the luxury boxes where I don’t have a hope in hell of ever sitting in otherwise.

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The tour guide was classic Boston. She was cheery but not overly dogmatic, and the shpiel had plenty of self-effacing humor. As you may remember, TBF hates the Red Sox because he hates Red Sox fans and thinks they are as bad as Yankees fans, so I was a little concerned he’d spend the entire tour making snide comments under his breath. But even he enjoyed the commentary and learned a thing or two. I got plenty of great photos and appreciated seeing the park under construction, as it’s a view most fans are never going to see. (We refrained from the touristy “get your photos taken with the Green Monster” in the background because it was winter and cold and if I want my photo taken at Fenway it will be in summer when I am there to see an actual game.)

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And even in winter, sitting in the seats and shivering, there was something still soothing and therapeutic about sitting in a ballpark. Your blood pressure goes down, you feel like you’re miles away from the world. I liked Fenway quite a bit. I don’t know if it’s “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” or not and I don’t even want to argue it, but there is unquestionably a vibe there — even when it was empty — that I would love to experience full. When we were talking with friends at the concert later, TBF mentioned that while Pac Bell is #1 on his list of ballparks he wants to visit, Fenway was #1 on mine. I hadn’t really stopped to think about it before but he was right.

We went back to the team store just to check it out, and were just astounded that the Mets for whatever boneheaded, idiotic, short-sighted reason have a MINISCULE store with almost zero inventory and for some reason refuse to make shirts available for the starting lineup. It’s ridiculous I can’t buy an Oliver Perez shirt without having one made custom, because the custom ones are ugly and not the same. It was ridiculous I had to make an Endy shirt last year. You can buy a shirt for ANYONE on the Red Sox, not to mention any kind of hat in any kind of color, not to mention any other piece of memorabilia you could ever want to buy.

TBF got me a stuffed Wally the Green Monster to add to my mascot collection (and because he loved the ESPN commercial with Wally and David Ortiz). And, um, I came home owning a Papelbon shirt, Not one from the team store, though.

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Given that at this point we are not incented to see any Mets road games this year (we’re still plenty cranky, don’t worry), I think we will try to get tickets to a game at Fenway when they go on sale. And later that night at the show, when a friend walked over to chat with TBF and said, “Oh, and they’re talking about Fenway again,” we both looked at each other and nodded. Yep. We’ll be there.

(Although if Wrigley happens, and they’re talking about that too, that goes first on the list. Sorry, Boston. Oh, and in case anyone cares, the New York stadium being talked about in Springsteen touring circles is that one in the Bronx, even if the man is no better than your classic fairweather Jersey Yankees fan. We’re still debating whether or not we’ll drag ourselves to that.)

The flickr feed from the tour is here.


(And if anyone really cares about Bruce Springsteen, you can check out Backstreets Magazine and brucespringsteen.net and jukeboxgraduate.com to read my writing on that guy from Jersey.)

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