My first visit to Fenway Park was in June 1999 on the weekend of the NHL Entry Draft when the Atlanta Thrashers came into existence with the expansion draft and selected Patrik Stefan with the first overall pick of the Entry Draft.
While I have photos of my visit, I was still using a film camera as digital cameras had yet to become available at reasonable prices. So I don’t have many photos of the stadium or game, but with a digital camera I was able to take a few more pictures of my visit this time.
Following my presentation at the AAG Annual Meeting about the intersection of Minor League Baseball and craft beer (read the abstract here), I made it to Fenway Park just in time to catch the national anthem.
Before making it into the park, my friends and I took a few pictures outside the iconic stadium. We came up onto the stadium on Landsdowne Street, which is the back of the park and provides visitors with a view of the videoboard.
|Street-level view of the videoboard.|
Despite the presence of numerous bars and clubs, most fans don’t hang out on Landsdowne Street but instead spend their time on Yawkey Way. Since 2003, the City of Boston has allowed the Red Sox to close Yawkey Way before each home game, which has led to the conversion of the space into a giant street party with food vendors, memorabilia vendors, and more.
|The party scene on Yawkey Way before the game.|
While the party on Yawkey Way has become synonymous with the Red Sox, the image baseball fans from around the world come to see is the brick facade that features the name “Fenway Park.”
|Fenway Park facade with banners representing the team’s World Series and American League titles.|
After snapping the photos from outside the stadium, we made it inside the ballpark just in time to witness the national anthem and take out seats in the Infield Grandstand before the game’s first pitch.
Once in my old wooden seat, I waited to snap a picture of the game’s pitch.
|Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris delivering the first pitch to Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer.|
Although I did not get my usual photo of first pitch from behind home plate, I did capture a close-up of Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer in the batter’s box from my vantage point.
|Closeup of Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer leading off for the visitors.|
From my seat I was able to get some great shots of game action, so I got a picture of one of my favorite MLB players: Andrew McCutchen. I also made sure to get shots of a few notable Red Sox players like left-handed pitcher Chris Sale and second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
|Closeup of Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Andrew McCutchen.|
|Closeup of Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale.|
|Closeup of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.|
Before going to explore the stadium in search of food and possibly a beer, I made sure to take a picture of the franchise’s retired numbers which hang near the right field foul pole (a.k.a. Pesky’s Pole – read Boston Globe story from 2012 explaining its history).
|The Right Field Bleachers with the Red Sox’s nine retired numbers plus #42 of Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson, who has his number retired throughout Major League Baseball.|
The Red Sox detail the history of each of the nine men who have their number retired by the team, which you can read here. Ted Williams (#9) and Joe Cronin (#4) were the first to have their numbers retired, which took place in 1984. The most recent number retired belongs to Wade Boggs (#26), who has his number retired in May 2016. In June 2017, the Red Sox are set to retire the number of David Ortiz (#34).
Eventually I hit the concourse to explore and find some food. A few days before my trip I heard about the new outlandish food that Aramark (the stadium concessionaire) was offering for the season, so I felt like I should try out one of the lobster-based dishes (read about the food items here). I was thinking perhaps lobster poutine. Before finding the specialty food stand, I stumbled upon a jersey commemorating the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
|Original “Boston Strong” jersey created following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.|
After my brief stop to snap a shot of the “Boston Strong” jersey, it did not take long to find the appropriate specialty food stand. Unfortunately in the 3rd inning the concession stand had already run out of all lobster dishes. I responded by asking for the Italian sausage and peppers sandwich, but sadly there was none to be had.
After leaving the stand, I decided to get the simplest and perhaps most iconic food item: a Fenway frank.
|A Fenway frank with spicy mustard.|
During my first visit to the venerable ballpark, I ate a Fenway frank while enjoying the game from a field box on the first baseline. So this was not my first Fenway frank, but it was still quite good. I kept it simple with just adding spicy mustard because I wanted to be sure to taste the encased meat. Respectfully of Bostonians, whom I’m sure love their Fenway franks, it was OK. The dog did the job, but it wasn’t a particularly memorable meal.
So back in my seat after eating and watching the game progress, I felt like I needed to capture a few more pictures that people expect to see. So as an urban geographer, I felt like I needed a picture showcasing the skyline.
|The skyline from the third base line featuring the Prudential Tower and 111 Huntington Avenue (a.k.a. the R2-D2 building).|
But no visit to Fenway Park is complete without a picture of the feature that makes the park so famous: the Green Monster.
|The iconic Green Monster towering over Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi.|
As has become tradition, I partook in the singing of “Sweet Caroline” during the middle of the 8th inning. While I did not grow up rooting for the Red Sox and have not developed any love for the team over the years, I felt like it was appropriate to sing along as the tradition has become ensconced since 2002 (read a detailed history here). I recorded video of the experience, which was pretty incredible.
As the game progressed through nine innings without a score, the debate began of how long should we stay considering the cold and a long travel day for myself and my two fellow geographers. Sadly after a scoreless 10th inning, we decided it was time to head out for something more to eat, a beer, and a good night’s sleep (more on the beer and food in another post). I hate leaving baseball game’s early, but felt like the long travel day merited an exception. So we set out from the historic park.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 0, Boston 3 (12 innings)