You have to like Red Sox fans. Yesterday’s game against the Mariners was Maine Day at Fenway. New England state days are a ballpark tradition. The weather cleared as the game began. You have to like Red Sox fans. Team veteran Tim Wakefield got nicked for a couple of runs in the first inning, but soon settled down. The Sox piled up five runs in the bottom of the first, and it was looking like it would be a lot of fun at the game. In the top of the sixth inning, Wakefield struck out Mike Carp to end the inning. The scoreboard flashed the news that it was Wake’s 2,000th strikeout for the Red Sox. Only Roger Clemens has more K’s in Boston history. The crowd erupted and gave Wakefield a long standing ovation, calling him out of the dugout for a bow. Six innings. 11 to 3 in favor of the Sox. I figured the manager would give his starting pitcher the rest of the afternoon off. No. Old Tim came out to the mound for the seventh and got knocked around for a bunch of hits, including a grand slam homer that seemed to leave the park in slow-motion. Now it was time to go. Terry Francona walked to the mound to make the change. With his first step to the dugout, Wake set off another standing ovation, as if all the bottled up gratitude for his year-in, year-out work for the Red Sox got uncorked in that moment. You have to like Red Sox fans. Give up a granny—get a standing O. It helps when you are still up by three runs.
I hadn’t been to a Red Sox game in a while. In recent years I’ve seen the Spinners play in the Fenway Futures game and witnessed the Paul McCartney concerts, but it’s been several years since I’ve taken in a Sox game in the 99-year-old ballpark. My son and I had excellent seats that we picked up in a benefit auction at the American Textile History Museum last fall. We were in the red boxes, Sec. 17, Box 124, Row MM, between the batter’s box and on-deck circle. Fenway is a living museum. Jim Lonborg was in the house and saluted on the jumbo-screen. Looking down at third base, I could see the ghosts of Malzone, Foy, Petro, Lansford, Hobson, Mueller, Boggs, Lowell, even Wilton Veras who came up with the Spinners. I could see that miserable pop-up of Yaz’s in the playoff game against New York. I had a straight shot view of Fisk’s foul tower in left. I enjoyed the modern-day World Series banners. But it is largely the same shape and size as the place I visited as a kid. It’s a Boston time-machine.
You have to like Red Sox fans. In one of the middle innings, David Ortiz took a rip and his bat exploded. The barrel ended up in the boxes near the on-deck circle. Ushers rushed to the scene to be sure nobody was hurt, and tried to retrieve the shattered bat. On cue, the fans nearby started chanting, “Let her/Keep it, Let her/Keep it”—and the ushers gave in. You have to like Red Sox fans.