Wednesday night Zack and I went to America’s Most Beloved Ballpark – that’s Fenway Park in Boston – John Updike’s “Lyric Little Bandbox” between Kenmore Square and the Fens to see the defending World Series Champions Boston Red Sox defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0. Ageless knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched two-hit shutout ball over seven innings, Manny Delcarmen handled the 8th and when Craig Hansen got into bases loaded trouble in the 9th Jonathan Papelbon came on for the last out.
The real story for us however was in how we watched the game. This year was the first year I was eligible for the Boston Red Sox Clergy Pass program. The Clergy Pass allows me, as an ordained minister to line up at gate B, along with active duty military personnel, two hours before game time and purchase two standing room tickets at half price (that would be $10). Now $10 would almost buy two regular priced bleacher seats at some ballparks around the country, but you have to remember that Fenway is both the smallest park in the country as far as seating capacity and the most expensive tickets in the game at $26 for bleacher seats.
Zack and I used the clergy pass.
This pass got us these standing room tickets:
We entered the park, and had dinner. This is tough for Zack with his food allergies, but the food service at Fenway uses canola oil for the fries so he had a hot dog sans bun and fries and water and we hung out and watched batting practice. Bonus for Zack – it was NASCAR night at Fenway and all the Roush-Fenway team racers were there and threw out the first pitch. We sat and stood on a cement step behind the last row in right field’s section two, which gave us this view:
As rough as this might seem, it wasn’t all that bad, if we stood (when there was a hit to the outfield, or during the Sox at bats, we could see the entire field and being at the extreme far end of the right field grandstand, there was comparatively little foot traffic crossing our sight line. Then in the middle of the fifth inning there occurred what the deists among us would call the divine intervention. A man wearing khaki’s and red Boston Red Sox Courtesy Staff golf shirt (with walkie talkie and ear piece) comes walking along the row between handicapped seats and the standing roomers and stops in front of Zack, looks at both us and says, “Would you two guys like real seats?”
Zack looks at me. I say, “Sure.”
The Red Sox employee hands me an envelope and says, “They’re in Section 23, about opposite where you are now, but I think you’ll like them a lot better.” He needn’t explain the sections in Fenway to me, I attended my first Red Sox game when I was 5 and could draw you a map. But we just say thanks and scoot to Section 23. Which is JUST to the third base side of home plate.
We were given these tickets:
If you look closely enough, you’ll see that these seats were not tix, that someone never showed up for at the will call window. In the place where the price would be it says *COMP*. These babies are on the house and must be something the Sox reserve for every game for this purpose or some other such kindness. If every random act of kindness I’ve ever done only amounts to have gotten me seats 3 and 4 in row 17 of Section 23 at Fenway on Wednesday night, I could live with that. Seriously, I am Red Sox fan, I could live with that. This was the view from the new seats, not right behind the catcher, but a major, substantial improvement. Zack was happier than on Christmas morning. OK, he wasn’t, but I was.
Fenway is crowded, the seats are too small, the sight lines are poor with support beams in the way, the tickets (even standing room) are overpriced, the food is terrible, and there is absolutely no better place to watch a baseball game in the entire world. Even standing up in the back row. I must be out of my mind – or a Red Sox fan.