The most frustrating things about going to a ballpark that is not Fenway

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I grew up on baseball. My dad obsesses on the sport. So, by the time I was old enough to show a modicum of interest, he seized on the opportunity.

At the time (early 80s), we were living in San Diego and routing for the Padres. My first official ballpark experience was there. I remember absolutely nothing about it, except that it was still a time that you could hang around and ask for the players’ autographs. I was a die-hard Tony Gwynn fan and happily hung out after the games, waiting for his scribble in my book.

Fast forward a few (many) years and I was a young woman living in Boston, going to odd Sox games when coworkers had a leftover pair. I remember drinking too many beers and casually routing on the home town heroes. I enjoyed Fenway, but it had fleeting importance in that focused-on-a-perfect-social-life decade.

But as always, time rolls on and so do priorities. The sous chef and I  got close to the requester if this post Рa committed Sox aficionado Рand his gorgeous bride (who also happened to be my college roommate) and a passing interest turned into season tickets.

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As a minor point of trivia, the first year we had the season package was 2004. I’m not saying we directly played a role in breaking the curse, but us baseball fans are a superstitious lot. We were at Fenway that year. A lot.

For the first few games of that season, I can’t say it felt a whole lot different than those random games in my 20s. But then something happened. Suddenly, we were good. Better than good. A little great. Powerfully scrappy. Hungry for the big prize.

Everything changed. The city held its collective breath. Sportscasters beat their chests harder than normal. When Papi brought his bat across the plate with the kind of force that spun his feet and ankles towards his mama in heaven, we clenched our fists and cheered heartily. We’d waited 86 years for what was at our fingertips.

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The park vibrated with anticipation. The cold metal railings of September and October baseball were taut and burned the touch of an ungloved hand. Noses stung with the crisp fall air and smell of spicy steamed franks. The grass – exhausted from a season bearing cleated feet – held on to its unnatural green by the sheer will of the grounds crew. You could feel it in every pore by the time you hit Yawkey Way.

Of dozens and dozens of amazing memories of Fenway, the one I’ll have till the day I die, is sitting in a shitty corner of right field taking in the 3rd game of the ALDS that year. We were playing the Angels – up two games in the series. We were losing. It was the first time I’d ever been in the park post-season. Vlad Guerrero had hit a grand slam earlier in the game. I’d already chucked it up to a no-win.

The game went to extra innings and ended with a walk off home run from Ortiz. Players danced on the field after wearing dirty unis and champagne.

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The question posed for this post asked about the frustration of visiting other parks. There is no frustration. I now frequent AT&T and the Coliseum in Oakland. Both are charming and fun in their own ways. I am not frustrated.

But they are not magic. I will never be at those fields and walk up the ramp in April to breathe in a smell that can only be described as “possibility.” Fenway is magic. It stands alone in that capacity.

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For the record, the requester also asked for the best pitchers’ numbers. A long standing joke of our Fenway tribe. I’ll go with 38 and 45. He’ll know why.