So, a family tradition expanded this past week. My dad started taking me to Red Sox games in 1978. Last year, he and I celebrated our 30th season of seeing the Sox in action. It was tricky some years, a few games were away from Fenway, a few hastily run to games while on brief trips home from Europe, one dog bite to the butt an hour before a game, but we never missed one.
This year, we took C along with us. He’s a little young still, but I was tired of waiting.
So, tickets were purchased (without the need for a second mortgage, but just barely) and plans were made. Dad would pick up C from home and I come over from the office and meet them. Now, dad likes to get to Fenway early for parking and it took a whole lot of convincing that he and C didn’t need to be there at 4:30 for a 7:05 game. The best I could do though was 5:30. Okay, just 90 minutes to kill with a 4 year old.
So, we get there and head in to Yawkey Way. C is a little intimidated by the crowd, but still excited. Grammy has bought him a David Ortiz jersey. We forgot our Sox hat at home, but Grampy bought us a new Green Monster hat (which conveniently is the name of our soccer team too…). So, into the park we go. We go up onto the field behind home plate. The Blue Jays are practicing and it takes a minute to convince C that we’re not missing the game. C is then upset that the Sox are not practicing and that he can’t go out onto the field. We decide to keep walking around.
C has now zeroed in on two things. Some people have ice cream and a few kids have balloons. We want both. I try to delay the ice cream, and I have no idea where the balloons came from. We make our way down through the tunnel to the Pavilion behind right field. C wants a tour of the ambulance that is standing by, wants me to get one of the “free t-shirts” Bank of America is hawking and really wants some ice cream. We see a rather dour looking Ronald McDonald walking around and assume he isn’t on the clock yet, so has no need to smile.
We get to the pavilion, ice cream is bought (because it is easier to give in now than listen to more pleading) and we sit down for a few and people watch. C notices the stairs leading up to the right field wall and wants to go up. My dad squints at the stairs and I offer to leave him down in the Pavilion while we go up (assuming that C will lose interest halfway up). To my surprise, C makes it all the way up to the Beer Garden (which I had never seen before) and instantly wants to go in to the secured seating area along the wall. Our lack of tickets will not daunt him. I finally am able to distract him by pointing out Grampy sitting at the table down below.
We make our way back down. It’s now 6:45 and we head for our seats, grabbing some Fenway franks and beers along the way. We’re in RF, right behind Pesky’s Pole, four rows off the field. C is impressed with the view (of the Jumbotron) and settles in watching bloopers and other such videos on the screen. Band comes out and plays the Canadian and American national anthems (to which my dad sings along with both). Ronald McDonald is now on the field with some kids from the RM House and is on the clock and jolly. “Play ball!” is yelled and we’re off.
I notice that C is watching everything on the big screen to our right. But, the screen only shows the warm up and the batter coming up to the plate. Once they get in their stance, the screen reverts to a still shot of the batter with their stats. “Dad,” C hisses, “the TV is broken!” I try to explain that the game is being played for real right behind him. He thinks the TV is better (despite being broken).
We finally tune in when Ortiz come to the plate. “Hey,” C yells, “I’m wearing 34 too!” We’re excited. Ortiz strikes out. We lose interest again.
We have zeroed in on a new interest, though. There are guys in yellow shirts walking through the stands, giving out food, and all you have to do is raise your hand! Next thing I know, C is yelling out for lemonade, cotton candy, peanuts, etc. Our box-mates are wildly entertained.
We get that under control in time for Ortiz to be up again. Blammo, Papi blasts one into the camera booth in CF. “I hit a home run!” yells C as he shoots up out of his seat. The group around us congratulate him with high fives. A beach ball lands in our lap and we punch it pack into the crowd. We cheer for Varitek and yell “Yoooouuuuk!” along with the crwod. We are into the game now.
We make a few tours of the men’s room. See a few more home runs and C seems to be enjoying himself. “I’m staying until the end of the game!” he announces. My dad and I are impressed. “Okay son,” I say, “we can stay as long as you like.” The wave breaks out in the bleachers and finally gets going. C is loving the jumping and screaming. We make it to the 7th inning, score is 8-2 and we’re well past C’s bed time.
“Daddy,” he leans over to me, “is the game over?” No, son, I explain, we have some more to go. “But, the Red Sox are winning, right?” Yes, they are. “Then, I think we can go.”
We make our way out. C laments the lack of a balloon (which I honestly could not figure out where they were coming from), we take a cheesy souvenir photo and head back to the car. C is passed out in his seat before we clear the park. We get home, C wakes up long enough to tell his mother that he hit a home run and passes out. I am content.
The next morning, on the walk to school, he tells me that he loved the game and thinks it would be great if we could go every day. We agree that when he plays for the Sox, I’ll come see him every day.