Good times never seemed so good.
I've been inclined
to believe they never would.”
- Song “Sweet Caroline” Neil Diamond (Sung by fans at every Red Sox game at Fenway)
Before moving to Boston, I’d only attended two baseball games in my life. As a child, I lived five minutes from Shea Stadium. My uncle promised to take me, but never did. I recall asking my parents when he’d bring me, but they always said they didn’t know. Looking back, I wonder why they didn’t bother bringing me instead. How much were the tickets, $5?
The first baseball game was finally at Shea Stadium when my husband’s relatives from Brazil visited. Their trip made me do all sort of tourist-type things I never bothered to do as a New Yorker, besides watching a baseball game. Like enduring the musical “Les Miserables” (which made such an impression on my husband that years later, he asked if it had been in English or French). We also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
Then when I worked at the insurance company, I got an opportunity to see a game at Yankee Stadium. My conclusion? Baseball games are boring.
When I moved to Cambridge in 2001, I couldn’t help but notice that people around here are a little obsessed with baseball. When it looked like it could be The Red Sox’s year in 2004, the whole city was alive with anticipation, and my husband and I couldn’t help get caught up in it. I began to watch baseball games on TV, finding that if I did something else during the slow parts of games (read, watch TV), it wasn’t too bad.
Then my son started kindergarten, and his assistant principal reserved a block of seats at Fenway for the school each year, so we started attending games. Whoever designed Fenway was (fill in the negative blank here). If you sit in most of the seats, the sun is in your eyes from 1pm until sunset. Now I know why baseball hats are designed to shield our eyes. Why on earth didn’t the designers notice that? Still, the stadium has its charm, and I’d protest with anyone else if they tried to move it or (gasp) change Fenway to a brand name.
My husband and I go to games more often because someone at his job has season tickets she likes to unload. Her seats are often obstructed, so all I see are people entering the stadium or climbing the steps when I’m trying to see the pitcher and batter. Added to this view are the people who want their picture taken by the guard with the foul line pole in the background and the vendors wearing bright yellow, yelling, “Get you soda He-ah! Hotdogs! Clam chowda!”
The games are often not very exciting, except for an occasional homerun or some good play or if the score is close near the end. For some reason, every time we attend a game, our neighbors provide as much, if not more entertainment.
Last season, we were next to a couple that each drank a beer an inning. So they didn’t have to make as many trips, they’d buy two at a time, having one cup in their hands and a replacement at their feet. By the fourth inning, I was impressed at how normal they seemed after at least four drinks. (Since I don’t know if they drank anything before they got to Fenway.) By the fifth beer, their eyes glazed over and I don’t think they watched any more of the game. The bar closes at the seventh-inning, so when they finished their last beers by the eighth-inning, they left. Mission accomplished?
On Friday, my husband I attended the first game of the season and our neighbors again did not disappoint. Around the third inning, my husband and I had left to get food. When we returned, a different couple than the last time had filled the empty seats next to us. They had a blanket across their laps and when we walked past them, they wouldn’t stand. Isn’t it just good manners to stand and make room to pass? I always do it and so does everyone else I’ve ever passed. As a result of the narrow space, I clocked a woman in the aisle in front of us in the head with my handbag. Sorry.
The woman wore eyeliner around her eyes that reminded me of that horrid look in the 1980s or heroin chic. I couldn’t rule out drugs in this case because they periodically left, returning smelling like cigarettes. Then the guy fell asleep. After a cheer, he woke up. Later, his girlfriend took a nap as well. When they weren’t sleeping, they were texting. They left in the seventh-inning. ????????
In the front row, a drunken guy was trying to get to his seat and spilled beer on an older woman’s shoulder. I only know this because he boisterously apologized. A couple of times, he stood on his chair and demanded that we all cheer, but nobody paid much attention. At some point during the game, the large flat screen TV announced to text if you were having a problem with a “fan”. I guess someone had a problem with this fan and his friend because at some point, security guards came to escort the drunkards out of the park. Drunken man put his hands up and got cheers from our section, while he was manhandled towards the exit.
Then there was a sweet older woman in front of us, whom I can only assume was a tourist, excited to be at her first game. Every time a foul ball fell into the seats, she’d state the obvious. “Look, it’s a foul ball. Isn’t that something?”
The big foul section was to the left of us, so every time a ball headed in that direction, some young men would stand and wave their arms, hoping to get on camera. Why they’d need that “glory” is anyone’s guess.
Oh, and David Ortiz got a home run and the end of the game was exciting. They won 3-2.