To say that this post has been a long time coming is an understatement. It concerns one of the few bright spots that occurred during the final month of last season for the Red Sox.
Every year, I try to purchase some Red Sox tickets for a game on or close to my birthday. This season was no different and it led to me purchasing tickets to see the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays a couple of days after my birthday. My wife was still recovering from her spinal fusion surgery, so she wouldn’t be joining us at the game. I picked my daughter up and we made our way into historic Fenway Park.
Normally, I’m the type of fan who gets to the park right when the gates open and stays until the last pitch is thrown, but I knew that wouldn’t be the case for this particular game with my daughter in tow. We got to the park about 30 minutes before the game began, grabbed food and settled into our seats. This game would be Tim Wakefield’s eighth attempt at his 200th win and early on it looked like it would go the same way that the previous seven attempts had. The Red Sox gave Wakefield two leads that he quickly gave away by serving up long balls.
At the end of the fourth inning (and back-to-back homers by Ellsbury and Pedroia), we made our way out to Yawkey Way. For the past few years, the Sox have started blocking off the road during games making it only accessible for ticket holders. There are food vendors, musicians and other performers to be found out there before the game begins and during games it’s a nice place to go if you want to get away from the crowd. Yawkey Way is also where the Red Sox were setting up Wally’s World, some fun things for younger kids to do if they get a little bored during the game. I’d rather have my daughter miss a couple of innings and see the ballpark as a fun place than get bored and dread a trip to Fenway.
This trip would leave us a little disappointed though. It seems like the team stopped setting up Wally’s World once the school year started back up figuring that there would be fewer kids at night games. They still had the fast pitch set up and it was free for kids, so I watched my daughter do that a few times. I think he top speed was 24 mph which seemed pretty good for a 5 year old with horrible mechanics.
Other than sharing my love of baseball with my daughter, I’ve also been introducing her to some of my other hobbies. The hobby that she’s taken the greatest interest in is collecting pressed pennies. They have one machine in Fenway and I hadn’t pressed any pennies there since they updated the designs. I had a bunch of change left over from our penny pressing adventure two days earlier so we each got to press a complete set of four for our collections.
The scan isn’t all that great, but the four pennies are: 2007 World Series Champions, I Believe in Magic, Red Sox Nation and Go Wally! The Green Monster.
While we were pressing our pennies, we kept track of the game on a nearby monitor. Hi-5s were exchanged when Pedroia hit his second dinger of the game, this time a three-run shot. We got a celebratory ice cream in a helmet and returned to our seats to eat it. We rose to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and that was just about all that my daughter had left in the tank. When the 7th inning ended, it was already 9:30 pm and it takes about an hour to get home from Fenway. We made our way home and ended up missing the seven-run 8th inning, but it was fine with me. Beating the crowds on the subway ensured that we got seats which was important because my daughter fell asleep halfway home.
Ten years ago, I never would have thought that missing two innings of a game, including one where seven runs were scored, would be a perfect day at Fenway, but when you factor in the time I spent with my daughter it was just that. We’ll stick with minor league games for the majority of baseball games that she goes to, but I want to make sure that she experiences Fenway Park as she grows up. Sure, her favorite thing about the park right now is that Wally lives there, but it gets her into the park and someday she might want to go for the baseball itself.
Quick little addendum to this story: Thanks to a co-worker, I was able to go to the game the next day as well. It was a day game and I was already leaving work early for a doctor appointment. I got to see the pre-game festivities for Wakefield. I also had the opportunity to see history made for the second day in a row, but Daniel Bard blew that. If he hadn’t blown the lead and Papelbon had gotten the save, I would have seen him become the first player to get 30+ saves in their first six seasons. He did achieve that milestone, but not on that afternoon. Bard’s September meltdown was one of the biggest reasons that the Sox fared as poorly as they did to finish the season. It was probably that month that led to the Sox dealing for a new closer to replace Papelbon rather than handing the job to Bard. Whether he’s still the set-up guy or moves into the starting rotation remains to be seen.