Hi. Barb here. And I just want to say, I love Fenway Park. Which is interesting, because honestly, I could care less about baseball.
When I first came to New England as a young bride, (or more precisely a young girlfriend, or young fiancée or young what-the-heck-are-we-doing-exactly-?, depending on who you asked), on the very first evening, I asked Bill, “What are we doing tonight?” and he said, “The Red Sox are on TV.” And, I thought, okay, sounds fine.
When I asked him the same question the next night and got the same answer, it was the first time I realized that baseball, unlike football, isn’t a once-a-week, easily dispensed-with sort of a thing.
Since then, baseball has been the background noise of my summer existence. Usually, quite literally. We had a summer cottage for years where we didn’t have a TV, and I got quite used to, actually got to really enjoy, reading a book with the radio announcers’ chatter, the crack of the bat and the crowd noise in the background.
Sometimes my husband will leave me in the car with the radio on and the score 3-1 to go off and run some errand. Then he’ll come back and the score is 3-11. “Oh my God, what happened?” he’ll yell. And I shrug and say, “I dunno.”
Here are my three all purpose baseball conversation starters.
“What’s the score?” (This can also be a conversation ender, depending).
“What happened?” Useful when spouse or crowd are suddenly cheering or swearing. Also useful for those really esoteric calls that only baseball fans understand.
“Oh, my God, what happened?” Useful for grand slam homeruns, no hitters, bench-clearing brawls and injuries. Baseball injuries always seem scary to me and I say this as someone who has a scar on her lip from being hit by a pitch in a game I wasn’t even playing in.
That’s my entire repertoire.
Which is why it’s odd that I really love to go to baseball games. I love being outside on summer nights. Or sitting in the sun, as I did last Wednesday, on a lazy summer afternoon, slathered in sun block to ward off the condition a friend of mine calls, “Celtic leprosy.”
Ballparks offer some of the best people-watching anywhere. And there’s so much more that happens on the field when you’re there in person—stuff you can’t se on the TV. I love Fenway, but I also like smaller parks. I’ve seen the Lowell Spinners and been to red Sox training camp in Fort Myers. Seeing the Portland Seadogs is one of the reasons for my goal of spending more time in Portland this summer.
I like baseball movies, too. I could watch Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own and Fever Pitch in a pretty much endless loop.
But then, of course, none of those movies are really about baseball.
Great column. I have more RSN memories than I can count. Beth and I played hooky from work the day we bought our marriage license 35 years ago, drove to Fenway and were part of the biggest downpour in Sox history. Any Red Sox fans who don’t know about sonsofsamhorn.com are in for a huge treat (especially in late winter) that’s where the totally knowledgeable fanatics hang out. A Sea Dogs game at Hadlock is one of the best sports bargains in the country.
I’ll admit that (other than the two Mets games I attended when I lived in New York) baseball was pretty much a “really?” part of my consciousness until I lived in Maine full time. Now there’s a Sox hat hanging on the frame of a Winslow Homer engraving in my study, the games are on the TV, yes, it FEELS like almost every night in season (although I often watch them with a book in my hand) and I loved the Yankee vs Sox game Bob & attended at Fenway. I have yet to see the Sea Dogs in action – clearly a major hole in my Maine credentials. Must be something about the air.
I love baseball, now. I do not have a Red Sox story. I lived in Boston for a year. It was 1968, and I went to Fenway Park to hear Eugene McCarthy speak. Does any one remember him? Alan Arkin was there as well, doing a reading from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. I have never forgotten the field, the crowd, and the beautiful city and the rest of beautiful New England. I live in California, but on the sly, I still root for the Red Sox. Thank you for the lovely post.
Barb, my wife doesn’t care one whit about baseball, but for my birthday two years ago she gave me tickets to Fenway Park…the best gift I’ve ever gotten. She liked the tour more than anything else, but I think it may have been the first time she’s ever had a good time at a ballgame she’s been to with me.
There is something about living in the New England area, and maybe the mystique and history of Fenway is part of it, that completely hooks non-baseball fans to the Red Sox. I’ve been to a few ballparks elsewhere and there is definitely a relationship between the team’s record and the fan interest. Not so in Boston. Red Sox baseball is a religion there like it is in no other city.
And I’ve been to a Sea Dogs game, but it wasn’t before they put their own little Green Monster in left. Need to get back there someday…love Portland.
I think it is true that the history of Fenway, and it’s urban location are part of the mystique of the Red Sox.