It was 95 degrees in the shade at Fenway this afternoon. I know because we were there. It was the kind of heat that can make Coors Light on tap at $7.25 a pop seem the acme of the brewer's art and cheap at twice the price. This was Emily and Elias' first major league baseball game, and mine in many years, so we braved the heat and cheered along with more than 37,000 fans as the Sox took the rubber match in its 3 game series with Seattle by the score of 2-1.
Our seats were extraordiary, a gift from my father via a family friend who also happens to be both his Godson and a Red Sox VP. We were in the Loge Box behind the visitor's dugout and below the grandstand and in that 95 degree shade all afternoon which was a mercy as I cannot imagine how others endured the full sun.
The game was certainly not a pitcher's duel, nor were there a surfeit of hits and runs, but those there were would suffice. J.D. Drew hit a solo shot in the 6th that put the Sox ahead (their first run was walked in by Seattle's Erik Bedard in the third). Bedard struggled through 5 innings with 99 pitches, while Justin Masterson pitched a strong six innings for the win and the bullpen saw it through in the last three innings with Hansen, Okajima and Papelbon.
It was fun to try an imagine the experience of their first Red Sox game through my children's eyes and contrast it to my own at their age. There is certainly less organ music than I remember, and I'm sure John Kiley didn't play renditions of "Blister in the Sun" by the Violent Femmes, though it was appropriate for this scorcher of a day. That's a shame, because without the organ if feels slightly less like church though undoubtedly still a place of pilgrimage. The old ball yard looks well, with the occasional beach ball dancing above our heads but nary a whiff of grass that didn't belong on the field. Fenway today is smoke free and recycles.
No one ran onto the field from the bleachers. There was what might have turned into a lynching when it was discovered that someone was wearing a Kobe Bryant Lakers shirt in a sea of Celtics fans, but once he doffed his Red Sox Cap and flashed a peace sign the rising tumult was stilled and the game went on.
We sang "Sweet Caroline" and cheered for Youk and Coco Crisp and the guy who said "Hey Ice Cream Heah!" I had that old thrill of walking up the aisle beneath the grandstand and out into all that color and sound and told Elias it was a magic door to a place of miracles.
See if you can spot the error in the scoreboard on the Green Monster (click to enlarge). Hint: It is not the National League score being fixed manually by the person on the ladder. I wonder if anyone has tried to estimate how many dimples there are on the face of that wall? Or on the smiles of young fans? All in all, a memorable day at Fenway.