Game of mu­si­cal chairs breaks out at Fen­way

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

BOS­TON — It was a night a 10-year-old kid dreams of.

De­spite the swarm of bod­ies, it was like be­ing alone in a his­tor­i­cal mo­ment rich with his­tory and tra­di­tion.

Fen­way Park was the main rea­son for fly­ing to Bos­ton. Yes, all of the Free­dom Trail was trav­eled and ex­peri- enced, in­clud­ing a glass of ale at The Bell In Hand, re­port­edly the old­est tav­ern in this city where his­tory lives ev­ery day.

Hats and T-shirts were manda­tory and had been bought in ad­vance just for the game.

And no, the Bos­ton Red Sox are not a fa­vored team. This was about iconic sta­di­ums, and the three that stand atop the list of Ma­jor League Base­ball parks are Fen­way, Wrigley Field and the old Yan­kee Sta­dium, which was vis­ited years be­fore it was de­mol­ished.

This was a bucket list trip that yours truly didn’t know ex­isted. It was an idea that started one evening and was made pos­si­ble through the great plan­ning of Mon­ica Tim­pani, who found two in­ex­pen­sive flights on Ex­pe­dia and two train rides that were mem­o­rable.

Get­ting there early was, well, part of be­ing a kid again.

It would have been nice to have real in-your-hand tick­ets, but Fen­way has en­tered the 21st cen­tury even though it’s been the Red Sox home since 1912. Tick­ets are printed on your own com­puter.

That was a small thing, and as the gate at­ten­dant scanned our $40 (each) tick­ets in the right-field grand­stand, noth­ing mat­tered but the sights, sounds and smells of this base­ball shrine.

Surely the spirit of Ted Wil­liams was there that night.

Over the years, im­prove­ments have been few and far be­tween, but that’s why they call it the Fen­way Ex­pe­ri­ence, and it was ex­pe­ri­enced in full.

Buy­ing a $7.50 hot dog (wiener and bun only), $12 lo­cal brew, and a glass of aw­ful red wine and peanuts for $14.50 was just the be­gin­ning.

Our seats were sur­pris­ingly, and thank­fully, on the end of the row. The Green Mon­ster glowed at us and, not so thank­fully, we were in seats that Fen­way doesn’t warn you about — par­tially ob­structed view.

Mon­ica couldn’t see the pitcher, but that was bet­ter than not be­ing able to see the sec­ond or third base­man.

We did see for­mer Ra­zor­back An­drew Ben­in­tendi sin­gle in his first at-bat.

We had plenty of room, but that changed be­fore the Min­nesota Twins were out in the first in­ning.

It was like the first pitch set off an alarm, and peo­ple scram­bled to their seats, mak­ing for more of an ob­structed view at times.

Two rows in front, in the mid­dle, a man and his two sons spread out over five seats, but al­most in­stantly a fam­ily of seven showed up to claim the seats. The squat­ter squawked and ges­tured that there were plenty of seats, so the fam­ily of seven took other seats. Within min­utes, the ticket-hold­ers for those seats showed up and the dis­tur­bance started again, with the mother of the fam­ily and some loud­mouth ex­chang­ing words.

The guy and his sons moved to their seats, with an ob­structed view, but be­fore the fam­ily of seven could get set­tled more fans showed up, and the fam­ily of seven had only five tick­ets in that row.

In the third in­ning with the Twins on their way to a 6-3 win, it hap­pened next to us. Some folks who seemed nice — they were from Min­nesota but in town for a wed­ding — were two seats short.

Af­ter what seemed like the 10th time, some­one got up to go for re­fresh­ments and the two with­out seats edged by us to sit un­til the re­freshed peo­ple re­turned. Mon­ica turned to the guy next to her and said, “Just take our seats.”

As we left, the pole that had ob­structed our view was hit by yours truly. Prob­a­bly wasn’t the first time.

To­mor­row’s col­umn: Trains, planes and Wrigley Field.

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