Dreams Come True At Fenway Park
I knew it was going to be a special trip even before I sat down on the flight to Boston and found myself seated next to Orson Bean and his wife, Alley Mills. (Longtime TV fans, I know I just caught you smiling.) We had a great conversation – they were on their way to a grandchild’s graduation.
My first stop when I landed was Fenway Park, a first for me. Fenway isn’t just any ballpark – it, along with Chicago’s Wrigley Field, is the most classic baseball venue in the world. In fact, it seems almost sacrilegious to use the word “venue.” It’s a baseball fan’s dream come true!
That’s how I felt when I walked up historic Yawkey Way, a tiny lane filled with street vendors and nostalgic bars and more Red Sox memorabilia on its patrons than seems humanly possible.
I couldn’t go inside until I walked all around the stadium, and that didn’t take long. It’s located on one giant city block – that’s all, and every dark-green concrete wall, nook, cranny and doorway is no doubt filled with stories from all the way back to Babe Ruth’s days and on through the many decades, to Ted Williams, Yaz and Big Papi. Fenway celebrated its 100th anniversary just last season. Much of it seems fit for another century, and I relished in the sights, sounds and smells of thousands of fans and all kinds of food, from chicken sausage to fried dough. I couldn’t pass by without grabbing a $3 hot dog from a corner vendor.
Inside, I felt transported back in time. The Green Monster loomed in front of me, and when I hurried down onto the field, I quickly got a photo snapped. It was minutes before the national anthem and the pre-game ceremonial first pitch, and I was amazed to run into a couple of fellow Hawaii natives.
Nicole and Lucia Kobayashi were on the field too, here in Beantown with husband B.J. and son Bert. Nicole flashed a shaka while taking photos with Wally, the Red Sox mascot. “This is our first time at Fenway. It’s awesome,” she gushes. “We got a tour of the Green Monster and we saw Shane.”
Shane, of course, is Hawaii’s Shane Victorino, who came off the disabled list in time to be inserted into the lineup as Boston’s lead-off hitter. I settled into my slightly obstructed view, very narrow Fenway seat in baseball’s most intimate ballpark in time to watch the Flyin’ Hawaiian smack a line drive single into left field on the second pitch he saw.
Moments later, a high, arching double off the Green Monster sent Shane flying around the bases, and he slid into home plate safely with a head-first dive as Red Sox nation erupted. I was in a baseball dream.
An inning or so later, a foul ball flew into the seats a few rows away, and four 20-something-year-old guys who could have starred as extras in Good Will Hunting snatched it up and celebrated as if they had won the lottery. Like me, they were in baseball heaven.
Another Hawaii connection: Waipahu’s Jerome Williams entered for the Angels late in the game, and he got Shane swinging. But Big Papi (David Ortiz) followed with a three-run homer, and the celebration of Boston’s much-deserved pride only grew.
When the crowd sang the traditional Sweet Caroline during the seventh-inning stretch, I knew I would never forget this day.
It was Fenway Park. It was, in a word, wonderous.