Boston's Fenway Park
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Fenway Park ball park

By Jaed Coffin

As you approach Boston from anywhere in the world, you’ll probably start to realize—via billboards, bumper stickers, ball caps, a vibe in the air, a strange scent—that you’re crossing a border into an invisible country. It’s difficult to define where this country begins and ends, but the epicenter is a ninety-seven year old baseball park called Fenway.

Welcome to Red Sox Nation.

The good news is that there’s no city in the world that possesses a more complete baseball identity than Boston, Massachusetts.  (The aforementioned claim, to any Yankees fan, will appear unequivocally wrong.) The other good news is that Boston is a small city that is easily navigable. To get to Fenway Park on the subway—called the T—is not hard, and on game day, one need only follow the throngs of fans as they march their way down mobbed sidewalks.

However, there is some bad news that anyone making a pilgrimage through Red Sox Nation ought to know, and it begins with a Major League Baseball record: In 2008, Fenway Park sold out its 456th consecutive home game, surpassing the old MLB record of 455. It was a cool night in September. They beat the Devil Rays, and Papelbon closed beautifully. You had to be there. So what this means is that in 2009—as the legions of Red Sox faithful continue to break their own attendance record—it is nearly impossible to get tickets to a game at Fenway Park.

You could take a tour of Fenway (these are available at the park on off days) but an empty field surrounded by empty bleachers doesn’t hold a flame to the real crowd-clapping, line-driving thing. Of course there is another alternative to finding your way into the park: if you’re feeling brave and outlaw-ish, you could try buying tickets from a scalper on Yawkey Way or Landsdowne Street. They’re everywhere and they’ll find you before you find them. But this is not an activity I suggest for those who wish to remember their vacation with any tranquility. Below is a transcription of a scalper/buyer exchange that I heard early in April behind the center field wall:

SCALPER (scruffy man wearing soiled Red Sox jersey): “You need tickets buddy?”

BUYER (a plain looking gentleman with hands in pockets, his wife and children nearby): “Yeah. What do you have?”

Outside Fenway Park

Bob selling Red Sox memorabilia

SCALPER shows man tickets: “Eighty five dollars a piece. How many you need?”

BUYER holds up four fingers, looks at price, shakes his head.

SCALPER: “I said eight-five dollars! You got eighty-five dollars?”

BUYER holds out palms, walks away. Ushers him family in same direction.

SCALPER: “I know you don’t want to pay eight-five dollars! I’m selling ‘em for eighty-five dollars though! How much you want to pay! You want to pay eighty-five dollars?”

BUYER looks over shoulder, ashamed.

SCALPER: “Eighty-five dollars! You don’t want to pay eighty-five dollars? Get out of here!”

If this scenario is off-putting, and if you’re now on the verge of considering a trip to the Science Museum (which is not far) or The Museum of Fine Arts (which is also not far), I encourage you not to change your plans. Because there is a Plan B, and—as a lifetime Sox fan who knows exactly what it means to catch a day game from four rows up on the right field line—it’s a pretty good Plan B.  In fact, I’d probably even call it the next best thing. 

Continue to page 2 - Fenway Park, RED SOX NATION: OUT OF THE PARK!


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