Saturday, April 16 – Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2. My high-energy, late-afternoon experience at Fenway Park, no doubt was fueled by the Red Sox beating Toronto behind strong pitching from David Price and Craig Kimbrel. At this century+-old ballparks, the streets are essentially part of the park and no doubt an inspiration for new parks that include street-equivalents inside.
Access: Took Amtrak overnight from Philadelphia. Had enough time for a bit of walk-around in downtown Boston, then took the trolley for $2.65 to within several blocks of Fenway. Of course the Kinston Trip came to mind. Took the same route back after the game, where the crowds were big enough that transit employees had to impose an occasional hold at the entry turnstiles.
Seats/Pricing.: This is one of two parks where I bought on-line tickets pre-season because they sell out so often (AT&T in San Francisco is the other.). I splurged $61 for a first-level seat with a straight line to between the mound and first base. I long-time Fenway regular who happened to sit next to me said it was one of the best locations in the park, and $30 cheaper than two rows closer. Even the last pre-game ball park tour was $30, so I passed on that. The seats themselves are in the still-unimproved dark green section that looks like a giant stripe behind the improved red seats closer in on the first level, and on the upper level. My seatmate said a friend of his has nearby season tickets and has been scraping a bit of paints off regularly for 20 years, and these older seats still haven’t been repainted. Also, no cupholders (the newer seats have them) and they’re narrow.
Views: There’s no open area to see through, so the main view is of the giant Citgo sign that appears on TV, and even in person, to be behind the Green Monster seats. I was surprised to learn “on the ground” that it’s actually several blocks away, on the other side of a freeway.
Food: Again, I asked for a staff recommendation. “Well, you gotta get the Fenway Frank.”. The hot dog itself was okay, and it was warm. But it was served on a breakaway bun that appears to have broken away before the slapped the hot dog on top of it. $5.75. Shoulda hunted harder to find the lobster roll that was listed on a ballpark food sign. I saw a vendor selling clam chowder in the stands, but he didn’t come near me.
Beer: Bud, Miller, Coors $8.00 at a main beer concession. Other semi-premium (e.g., Blue Moon) $9.50 or $9.75. My seatmate tried to buy a craft beer from a vendor, but the vendor said he could only sell in the higher-priced seats. Maybe that was the deal with the clam chowder, too. Bernie Sander would be appalled.
Crowd: 36,267: The crowd was the highlight. The streets began filling by noon for a 4 p.m. game. There are plenty of bars and casual restaurants on the streets that bound (hem in, actually) Fenway. Some are closed to traffic on game days. Inside, the crowd was very vocal. Other than yells for big plays, the most impressive was the full-throated 8th inning rendition of Sweet Caroline. Clea
Men’s Rooms: Clean both before and late in the game, in part likely because there are no paper towels, only hot-air hand dryers. Basic concrete block construction. Biggest question is the imbalance of wash basins — in one main concourse facility, 4 wash basins for 28 urinals and 4 stalls.
Neighborhood: Essentially part of the ballpark. Fans presumably come early because there is lots to do or watch. Plenty of ticket hustlers, too.
Arts and visuals: Main attraction is a series of life-size statues of Red Sox legends along the street behind right field.
Baseball moment: Craig Kimbrel striking out the side in the 9th, mostly with fast balls that measured 99 mph on the radar run. An occasional drop to 98. No 97 or 100. What consistency!