Posted by: Nate | April 14, 2008

Opening Day 2008: Fenway Park

Every sports fan has their favorite team, the one they are a little too invested in, spend a little too much time rooting for and do borderline crazy things in support of. It should be quite evident that my favorite team is the Boston Red Sox and even though this is obvious homer-ism, I find Fenway Park to be one of the most magical and enchanting ballparks in the majors. So it should come as no surprise that every time I get to catch a game there in person I still am in awe of the park and all of it’s loveable (and sometimes irritating) quirks

Fenway Banners

I was lucky enough to attend several playoff games this fall by camping out on Lansdowne St. underneath the Green Monster with scores of other diehard fans. It was an awesome experience and something that I was excited to have the opportunity to do again. Naturally, opening day 2008 with the presentation of the 2007 World Series rings was a perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a fiasco involving the camped out fans, Fenway staff and the Boston Police, which resulted in a termination of our camping trip. Luckily, I was privileged enough to have been offered a ticket to the game from my former roommate, Scott, and so I was able to attend despite that snafu on the streets. I won’t get into detail about it here, but needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with that.

The rest of the experience and the game were unbelievable. It was a warm, sunny afternoon with a light breeze and a frenzied crowd; perfect weather for springtime baseball at beloved Fenway. The pre-game ceremony was pretty impressive, with people lining the outfield holding flags representing all the countries in Red Sox Nation. The Boston Pops provided musical accompaniment to the proceedings and past Boston sports heroes from the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and 2004 Red Sox were called onto the field each sporting their respective sport’s championship trophies. Greats like Billy Russell and Bobby Orr strode in from left field in their jerseys and then took their place on the third baseline to watch the ring presentations. It was a really cool scene and a great way to demonstrate the rich history and tradition of Boston sports that these Red Sox and vaulting their way into.

After this, they draped the Championship flags from each of the Red Sox’s previous World Championships over the Green Monster with increasingly loud cheers from the crowd. I have a great picture of the 2007 World Series Champions banner billowing out over the 2004 banner, at last moment in the spotlight for that momentum changing and agony ending title. Then they called out the players and staff from the 2007 team, with each person, be they assistant strength coach to fan favorite and All-Star receiving a good cheer. It was great to see Doug Mirabelli again, and he was enormously well received by the crowd when he went to get his ring. After the presentation of rings, Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky and David Ortiz, surrounded by the team raised the 2007 Champions flag on the center field flagpole. It was a really picturesque moment pairing legends old and new and the stadium was shaking with joy, the very walls vibrating with our collective good fortune.

2004/2007 Banners

I was naïve enough to think that after the jets did a fly-by of the stadium that it couldn’t get any better and there were no more surprises to be had. Obviously, I was wrong. Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch was none other than former scapegoat Bill Buckner, back at Fenway to be recognized as a valued member of our team, a pariah no more. Clearly the 2004 and 2007 World Series wins went a long way in easing the pain of Buckner’s miscue in 1986 and a lot of healing has happened since then. I thought it was great to finally welcome him back to the park and hopefully the monkey is off his back for good now. As a great omen for the game (and hopefully the season) Buckner tossed a strong strike to his former teammate Dwight Evans. If you thought the cheers for the banner unveiling, or Manny, Ortiz or Papelbon were loud – Buckner’s ovation was a deafening roar of several minutes equal to the noise the jets produced overhead.

The rest of the day was a really picturesque baseball orgasm filled with peanuts and beer, Dice-K dissecting the surprisingly anemic Tigers offense and the Sox grinding out runs all afternoon. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day off from work or a better way to open the season. I also got my picture taken wearing a 2007 World Series ring that they are raffling 9 of off to the public.

The season is long and will have plenty of downs (see getting swept in Toronto) and ups (see winning 2 of 3 from the Yankees and battering Phil Hughes) but this was the perfect start to another great season of baseball at Fenway. Here’s hoping 2008 is as great as 2007 was and that I can bask in the glory of another championship on a warm afternoon in April 2009



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