Some people have a knack for winning raffles. Al is one. So when he told me a few weeks ago that he’d won a raffle at work for two Red Sox tickets, I wasn’t really surprised, but I was glad to go. I enjoy a good game of baseball, and I hadn’t been to Fenway Park in far too long.
Our tickets were for last Wednesday night, Red Sox versus the Minnesota Twins. Tuesday, I checked the forecast: rain, maybe even a thunderstorm. I started fretting. I had spiked yet another infection over the weekend in an ulcer in my left thumb. What if it got too cold and damp for me to sit outside?
Al checked the location of our tickets, and our luck held—we were in the grandstand, under the second deck. Okay, game on! Even if rain caused a delay, I’d have my layers. I put two coats to choose from in the back of the car, brought along my gloves and leg warmers, just in case, and we set out for Boston.
Despite a downpour on the Mass Pike, heavy traffic and a search for ridiculously expensive parking, we made it with about 10 minutes to spare before game time. The sky had lifted, and everyone was in a good mood as we walked past the food and souvenir barkers, through security (a sign of the times, especially after recent events in Boston), and into the ball park.
Our seats, way in the back of the grandstand, were high and dry, and we had a great view along the first base line. Call me corny, but there’s something about that first glimpse of the ballpark—the emerald green outfield, neatly trimmed in a criss-cross plaid; the perfectly groomed clay-red infield; the players in their bright uniforms, warming up; the good-old red neon Coca Cola sign; the inevitable baseball trivia opening award ceremony (it was the 40th anniversary of the American League’s designated hitter rule)—that just made me grin and get a little lump in my throat.
We were both smiling by the end of the first inning. After the Sox pitcher gave up far too many walks, loading the bases for the Twins and enabling them to drive in four runs, our boys redeemed themselves in the bottom half with a run and a grand slam that put us up by one.
But it was all downhill from there. The Twins scored seven more runs in the second inning, and we never caught up. Final score, 15-8, a total rout.
Al was not pleased. But I didn’t really care that much, even though I would have preferred a better contest. I was having too much fun watching the people show—the guys in yellow vee-neck tees and ball caps, climbing up and down the stadium, carrying trays on their heads loaded with nuts, lemonade, hot dogs, water bottles and chowda-chowda-he’ah; the spectators bopping to the music, laughing at themselves on the big screen, trying to start a wave around the stadium, cheering as the ball flew high into the night sky and sighing as it was caught only a few feet from the Green Monster; the between-innings standing ovation for a dozen Rhode Island state troopers in their dress olive green uniforms and Smokey hats, honored for their help after the Marathon bombing; the seventh inning stretch, singing along with the crowd and organ to Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
No one around us got too drunk. People were chatting and texting and just relaxing, despite the lousy game. We had plenty of room and were able to move down to the front section as discouraged fans left early. People danced and pumped their fists to the team’s informal theme song, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
Even in the bottom of the ninth, when we were so far behind, die-hard fans (maybe a quarter of the stadium, at this point) were still chanting a sing-song let’s-go-RED-Sox! It started sprinkling just as the game was ending, and the deluge and lightening held off until we were well on our way home.
Hope springs eternal at Fenway. Despite the fact that we lost, despite the threat of rain and my lousy infection, despite the fact that if Al hadn’t won the tickets we wouldn’t have been able to afford to go, despite doping scandals and the commercialization of professional sports and outrageous players’ salaries, there is just something so sweet about a Wednesday night baseball game at an old fashioned ball park that makes everything seem possible again. So good, so good, so good.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.