Ever since I started watching baseball on TV and learning the history of all the teams and ballparks, I’ve always wanted to visit and see a game in select ballparks like Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Wrigley twice a couple of years ago when I was living in West Michigan, and it was fantastic. But that’s another talk for another day.

While I made it to Wrigley, for whatever lame reasons I could offer it wouldn’t make up for it—I simply blew it with Yankee Stadium. The old stadium is no longer in use. I wasn’t going to let that happen with Fenway Park and thus begins my logic for making an impromptu day-and-a-half trip to Boston last week. In my opinion, Fenway is the Mecca of baseball or what Lambeau Field is to the NFL.

A friend and I made the 9-hour plus trek to Boston Tuesday afternoon and arrived in town a good three hours before last call at the local pubs. After shaking off the hangover the next morning, we went out and saw as much as the city as we could. As a side and unrelated baseball note, Boston is filled with incredible America history at almost every corner all within blocks of each other that I highly suggest to anyone given the time and means to visit. Anyway by 5 p.m., it was time for Fenway.

My first experience with the atmosphere was turning the corner after parking and seeing Yawkey Way loading with people prior to the gates being open. The atmosphere was electric with street sellers, merchandise, food and a sea of Red Sox nation. Being that we arrived well before the gates opened, we walked around the entire outside of the ballpark and came across the former legends banners seen below. Any team that can put up a banner for Cy Young is a team that encompasses a very rich franchise history.

The brick and the green exterior blended right in with the neighborhood as one of the great things about Fenway is how it’s located directly in one street block and not out in the middle of nowhere parking lot outside out of the city. We finally made our way inside and walking up the steps to the concourse opening and seeing the stadium for the first team was amazing. Suddenly, the place that I had seen on TV my whole life exploded into my viewpoint and came to life. There was the massive Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole (the 302-foot foul pole which is the shortest in the majors), the John Hancock scoreboard, the center field triangle, the manual left field scoreboard and so on and so forth. No park in America has so many recognizable and historic aspects in it, and all of it came alive five seconds into the seating area.

The pillars holding the grandstand up and obstructing certain views also stands out. Our seats were behind one of these pillars so it was a constant bob and weaving to see the pitcher in his delivery, which is one of the drawbacks to old parks like this, but with everything else it has to offer who cares?

Another noticeable aspect is the stellar condition the place is in considering it was built in 1912. The crew does a really nice job keeping the place looking old school, but new at the same time. Also, it was nice to see there are no gimmicks at Fenway as you will probably see in the majority of other ballparks. They didn’t mess around pregame: here’s the national anthem, here are the lineups, let’s play ball. This was a very refreshing concept that I wish more teams would implement.

As for the game, it was just what we thought it would be, a slugfest between the Sox and Angels since John Lackey and Scott Kazmir were on the mounds for their respective teams. Neither pitcher was very effective as there were four dingers hit in the first five innings. The Angels held a brief 5-2 lead before the Red Sox rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth on a Adrian Beltre homer and two runs in the seventh inning (off a wild pitch and HBP) to complete the comeback. Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and struck out the side to slam the door on the Halos for a  7-5 Boston victory. Lackey somehow picked up the win despite allowing five runs on 10 hits (two homers). And what I thought was pretty fitting—the game ended with Erick Aybar…caught looking. Go figure!

Some other random observations from the Fenway experience:

– Dustin Pedroia is a god in that town. He had just come off the DL to play again, and the fans love him. He’s probably even more popular these days than Big Papi. Of course, Pedroia would hurt his foot again in the game, miss the next night and then shut down for the rest of the season. Tough year for him.

– Not gonna lie, singing “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth inning was pretty cool. It might of even given me goosebumps

– It’s ridiculous to watch a game there and start thinking about the amount of history that was played in this baseball landmark. The fact that Babe Ruth and Ted Williams called the playing field their home was enough to amaze me.

– Red Sox games are looooooooooooooong. It’s really noticeable when you’re there. I can see the argument of game length by people when the Sox and Yankees meet up. I obviously love baseball, but at some point it’s unbearable with how slow they are. It’s obviously attributed to the fact that it’s a hitting park, they take a lot of pitches, but the amount of time wasted in between pitches with time being called and batters stepping out of the box is ridiculous.

– Despite the ballpark being completely sold out, including hundreds of standing room only tickets, the bathrooms and concession stands never appeared to be overly packed. Maybe this is due to people not leaving their seat more in Fenway than other places, or maybe there’s just a good number of concessions, but down the third base side was not bad at all for concourse traffic. I actually really noticed it more when I attended the Mets-Pirates game Saturday night and thought the concourse was too crowded at PNC Park. Something this old ballpark also has on new ones perhaps?

– While taking pictures down by the Angels dugout during pregame, I started chatting with two guys who were in the midst of a baseball park tour. They were hitting 10 ballparks in 10 days with the cities being as far as I can remember: Boston, New York (Yankees), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago (Cubs and White Sox). They were actually heading to Pittsburgh on Friday, so I gave them some tips about what to check out and food and drinks to find once there. They used Jay Buckley Baseball Tours website, which I was not familiar with, but visit the website to see a number of tours (that range in time and number of parks) this summer that you can pay for in one price and ride a bus around to all of them. This is something I know I will check out in the future as possible great roadtrip next summer.

All in all, what a great trip it was even though I was only there for one game and in Boston for less than two full days. I can’t compare it to Wrigley and say that it was better or not because both were classic parks that exceeding my expectations each time. They were different experiences, but still gave me that nostalgic feel that this is way baseball was meant to be played. I only wish I had gone to an afternoon game. The pictures (all taken by me by the way) filtered throughout this text and below in no way does justice for this ballpark. I recommend Fenway Park to anyone who has never gone or even if you’ve made it to a game before. I know that I plan on returning to Yawkey Way to experience the classic feel again.

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