A day after watching the Red Sox at Fenway Park and a few days after the memorable Futures at Fenway doubleheader, I faced a bit of a dilemma. I’d planned to see the Red Sox and Angels play on August 22, but a couple factors were at play here. Since I’d already been to Fenway Park twice, I really didn’t need to visit a third time to take photos and explore for my website, The Ballpark Guide. I’d be going mainly as a fan, and while that’s fine, Fenway Park is an expensive place to visit and my travel budget isn’t enormous. Plus, I was still suffering from a nagging cold.
On the flip side, I was really looking forward to meeting a reader of this blog named Mike. Let me explain: Before I embarked on this road trip, I blogged about a list of goals I’d set for myself. The most important one was getting to the top of the Green Monster. Less than 24 hours after I blogged about this goal, Mike sent me a message and said to meet him before the August 22 game and he’d get me up on the Monster. Incredible! I hadn’t ever met Mike, and I don’t think he’d previously left a comment on my blog. But his overwhelming generosity was amazing. So, we hatched a plan to meet before the game and because Mike is a member of the Red Sox Nation club, he’d take me up to the Monster as his guest.
Mike’s extreme generosity made it tough to make this decision, but I chose to skip the game. It wasn’t easy to do, but I felt it was the most sensible option. And as my goal of getting atop the Monster was in jeopardy, I decided to head down to Fenway during the day and take a guided tour of the park, as it includes a Monster visit. I should note that Mike has generously invited me to contact him next time I’m planning a visit to Boston. Mike, I’ll definitely take you up on that offer, and thanks again!
As you might remember, I took the outstanding tour at Oriole Park at Camden Yards last summer, so I was excited to check out this one. When I got downtown and parked (for only around $15, I am happy to say) I got to the ticket office and bought my tour ticket with five minutes to spare. The tours begin in the team shop on Yawkey Way, and I ran to join the enormous group. The tour had to have 100-plus people, and a quick discussion led by the guide revealed there were visitors from across the globe — Australia, Ireland, Japan and throughout North America. What a testament to the attraction of Fenway Park.
The tour set off toward Gate A, and as you can tell from the picture below, I was able to get near the front of the pack:
As the group began to file into Fenway Park, I paused to quickly snap a photo of my tour ticket:
We all gathered in the concourse inside Gate A, and one of the first things we saw was the modified golf cart that used to carry relievers in from the bullpen. You might not be able to tell from this photo, but the Red Sox leave it open to allow fans to sit in it and take photos:
One of the neatest things to see at the park is the original ticket booths. They’re no longer used (although they were up until a few years ago) and each is loaded with artifacts from a World Series-winning season:
After seeing Fenway Park so crowded during my two previous visits, it was odd to see the concourses so empty:
And when we got out to the seating bowl, things were just as quiet:
Out here, we watched a short video about the park’s history, which contained a memorable clip of David Ortiz telling us to, “Enyoy the tour.”
I could share a bunch of photos of an empty Fenway Park, but instead, I want to show this one of the right field bleachers. If you look closely, you can see the Lone Red Seat in the shadow of the light pole:
The tour was excellent. I can’t recall the guide’s name, but he was humorous, knowledgeable and kept things moving along. We followed him through the seating bowl and eventually, close to the Monster:
That could only mean one thing, right? My visit atop the Monster was fast approaching! This was the scene was we passed into new territory for me and headed toward the Monster seats:
We all took seats as our guide gave some information about the Green Monster, and I snapped this panorama from up here:
Everyone knows about Ted Williams’ 502-foot home run in 1946 that landed in what is now the Lone Red Seat, right? Well, I thought it was bizarre that no one had trumped that blast, especially given the game’s steroid era and the fact that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz pounded scores of home runs out of Fenway Park. Well, here’s the answer to that question, posted in the Monster seats:
The group only spent a few minutes in this area, but I was able to take a bunch of photos. After I took a number of photos of myself, another fan offered to photograph me up here:
As I said, our guide was great and gave us a ton of interesting stories. Recognize the famous Citgo sign?
Apparently, Joe Carter was once asked why he hit so many home runs at Fenway Park. He pointed out the Citgo sign to the interviewer, who was confused. Then, Carter explained, “I don’t see Citgo. I see ‘C-it-go.'”
After spending time on the left field side, our tour proceeded over to a spot high above the first base line, where I took this panorama:
And from up here, I spotted a Red Sox coach playing catch with his son:
I also saw the door to Manny Ramirez’ personal washroom:
Next, we learned another fact that you probably don’t know unless you’re a big-time Sox fan or trivia buff. Like me, you’ve probably seen the Green Monster a million times on TV but never noticed the Morse Code written on it. See the code in the vertical white stripes?
This code represents the initials of Thomas Yawkey and his wife Jean Yawkey, who owned the team from 1933 to 1992. The location of the initials is the cause for the urban legend that says the Yawkeys are buried in left field.
The tour continued up to the Bud Deck high above the right field corner, and pretty soon, it wrapped it. It was just over an hour in length, and boy, did it fly by! As it ended, our tour guide, pictured here …
… led us to the new Royal Rooters Club, a swank hangout for BoSox season ticket holders. This club is a restaurant and bar, but more importantly, contains a Hall of Fame-like selection of team memorabilia, with everything from Manny Ramirez’ game-used helmet and Bill Mueller’s bat:
To American League MVP awards:
And Cy Young Awards:
And my favorite, a team-signed ball from each year of the team’s history:
Check out the signature on the sweet spot of this ball:
I was settling in to spend a good hour in this area, but the ushers encouraged people to move along after maybe 10 minutes or so. But first, I got a good laugh. One old usher (who reminded me of Burgess Meredith in the Grumpy Old Men movies) announced, “If anyone wants to see some World Series rings, I’ve got two!” And sure enough, he was sporting the enormous rings from the team’s 2004 and 2007 championships. As a crowd gathered and began to ooh and aah, he shocked more than a few of us by declaring to a couple women, “They’re chick magnets! Wanna look closer, baby?”
I’m glad that I got to take the tour, and if you’re visiting Boston, it’s something I definitely recommend. It’s too bad that I missed meeting Mike, but I hope to get back to Boston before long, so maybe it’ll work out then.