They are two venues well-known to New England sports fans. I lived in Vermont in the 1990s and picked up the New England Patriots as my team. Rather than try to make a connection with a California team when I moved there next, I just stayed with the Patriots. In 2003 I moved to the Boston area, and it was a whole load of fun when the Patriots won the Super Bowl that year and again in 2004. These days it’s popular to not like the New England Patriots, but back when they were still new winners, many people were wildly enthusiastic about them. It was fun that a team I had decided to follow years earlier were now superstars.
And Bostonians…well…they are a sports city like I had never seen in my life.
I learned this in 2004 while picking up a second New England team, the Boston Red Sox. The American League Championship Series began frustratingly, as the Red Sox lost to their rivals the New York Yankees, one game after another. The series score was 0-3 when the fourth game began, and while we loved our Sox, we were admittedly half-convinced that night would be the last of the series. But it was not. The Sox turned it around, and kept it turned around. Our minds were blown when the Red Sox won the next four games and THEY were ALCS champions. Against the Yankees, no less.
I had been watching the games with my boyfriend and we had been yelling and cheering at the television screen ourselves. During one of the last games in the series I had to go outside for something, and was outside when the Sox scored. The whole neighborhood erupted! I could hear cheering from houses on all sides of me. That was my first clue about Boston and baseball.
Next up was the World Series. In October 2004, the Red Sox entered the series with a really jazzed up fanbase. Games one and two were on the weekend, and our excitement grew when the Red Sox won both of them. I was back in classes for the Fall at Brandeis University, and couldn’t be home to watch the beginnings of the remaining games. Most other people had to work, too. Again, I saw evidence that the whole city was the audience. Game 2 ended at midnight and Monday morning I got on the train and saw my usually-friendly and chipper friends all sprawled out on the seats asleep. Up and down the train, on all the cars, red eyes and saggy pale skin greeted me instead. People protectively clutched travel mugs of coffee.
Pre-superfast cell service, nobody knew what was going on while we were on the train. It was an hour and a half ride from the Brandeis/ Roberts stop to the end of the line, and before the game we huddled together in agitation comparing notes of what had been happening right before we left the office or the computer to get on the train, or what the spouse had said on the phone just before boarding. By the third game, on Tuesday night, someone got wise and brought an old transistor radio. He brought a handful of aluminum foil and taped it up to a window and stuck the antenna into the foil, then turned up the volume and bent his head down to the speakers to hear the announcer above the rattle of the train. The game started before we got home, and this man called out the action loudly enough for the whole car to hear.
Someone took it upon himself to run to the adjacent cars and announce the latest score. In fact, this is how I found out the radio was on board. I was sitting in an adjacent car and heard the announcement. I was not the only one grateful to get the shouted news. When I learned it was a friend who held the radio, I moved into that car.
Once we got home, we could watch the end of the games that lasted well into the night, and it took a toll on us. The Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals and by Thursday morning after game four we were wrecked. I can’t remember how late all the games went, but we were not getting enough sleep. After all that excitement it took awhile to wind down and then sleep. And moments later our alarms got us all out of bed again so we could get to the train on time.
Wrecked, but so happy. It was a big deal because it broke the Curse of the Bambino. After 86 years, the Red Sox had finally won a World Series. There were so many tired but blissful smiles on the train Thursday and Friday. I wonder if anyone has documented the lack of production in the city of Boston that week.
Let’s talk about 2019 now.
Will bought us tickets to see the Red Sox play at Fenway. On the way up to Boston from Rhode Island, I asked if we could stop at Gillette Stadium, the home of the Patriots. I bought a T-shirt because my old game day T-shirts were getting pretty worn out. Then I posed on the grass. I had to sit on the ground because I wanted the shot to look like I was actually on the field. I’m not. It’s just a patch of turf outside the store, made expressly for silly tourists like me.
We then headed up to our hotel just blocks from Fenway. We had splurged for a hotel close to the park so we could just walk there. We checked in, dumped our bags, and headed over.
Will and I found our seats and settled in to enjoy the Memorial Day honors. Multiple veterans appeared, and multiple family members were honored while the stories of their lost loved ones were told. There was one person honored for dying “from Agent Orange,” and I shook my head. Of course I respect and appreciate the Vietnam Veteran who died. I just wish the US didn’t continue to perpetuate all the fear and myths surrounding Agent Orange – the herbicide dropped to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam. I could go on and on about it, and I won’t. Just please don’t buy into the hype. The government used waay too much herbicide, and it had health impacts. Your diabetes mellitus II is most likely due to your lifestyle, however.
The game was fun and our team won!
We hung around after the game and explored the seats above the Green Monster: the big giant green wall seen in the panoramic photo above, and the wall behind the US flag. Then we walked back to our hotel in the warm night. On top of the building was a patio where we got drinks and watched the sun go down over Boston.