Tuesday, September 09, 2008

456 In A Row: Sox Vs. Tampa, September 8th, 2008

The big day arrives. Last off-season, knowing Fenway was within a year of breaking the Indians' record of 455 consecutive sellouts, I looked at the tentative 2008 schedule, counted out the days, and found that September 3rd would be the day of sellout #456. I also noted that one rainout that was re-scheduled for after the 3rd would mean the next home game, the 8th (my freakin' birf-day!) would become the record-setting day. I got tickets to the 3rd, and then my 10-game plan arrived, and I found out it gave me the 8th. Sure enough, there was a rainout, and 9/8/2008 became the magic day. Above, Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant, and David Pauley greet me at the door.

I'd found out a few days before that players would be greeting fans at the gate, so once I shook Dewey's hand five seconds after Gate B opened up, and told him I watched him growing up, I started running around to the other gates to see who I could see. Above, Mike Timlin inside Gate A.

Another shot of Timlin.

Over at that gate on Lansdowne that doesn't look like and therefore gets almost no traffic, it's Manny Delcarmen and Chris Smith. As I thought, it was pretty much just pitchers, as the hitters were taking batting practice at the time.

Now going through the "seating bowl" toward another gate, I see Gordon Edes doing some work.

Now over at Gate D, I see a bunch of fans crowding around someone who was seated. I knew who it had to be--Johnny Pesky.

If you haven't been to Fenway since pre-2004, you should know that once the gates open, Yawkey Way becomes part of Fenway Park. Walking along Yawkey, suddenly Tim Wakefield is cruising past me. He must've been greeting at Gate A and was now getting an escort back inside.

As was Devern Hansack.

At the outdoor portion of Gate A, it's the owners, and Joe Castiglione. I also heard Remy had been there.

A better shot of Larry and Joe Castig. Joe was handing out these "ticket"-looking commemorative cards. So I went up to him and got one. I also talked to him about our book for a little bit.

John Henry. [Update: I'm just noticing now that must be Ken Burns (you'll see more of him below) talking to Henry. It's also funny how those Cubs fans were probably very impressed: "the owners greet you at the door!"]

Having covered all the gates, I started repeating them to see if any new people had come out. Nope, still Timlin. And if anyone had been at the centerfield gate, I missed them. I'd guess Oki and Lopez. Then again, where were Beckett and Dice-K and Byrd?

Walking around underneath, I'm suddenly behind Amalie Benjamin. Taking pics under there is never easy with the weird lighting. But it always makes for a cool effect. Amalie's green dress is at left.

Then I'm going up the new staircase from Yawkey Way to the top of the grandstand, and who do I see seemingly filming a documentary, but Ken Burns! Whatever this doc is of, I have to be in it, because I kept walking in front of the cameras. On purpose.

Down at field level. Zimmer with my birthday on the board.

Joe Morgan in Autograph Alley. Morgan Magic of '88 is probably the most underrated of the successful Red Sox seasons. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though I was 12. I got to go to Morgan's first two games, the doubleheader vs. KC.

Burnsie with his crew. I like how Burns himself kept looking through the lens to set up his shots. I'd think by now he just phones it in, but no.

Lou Merloni on Yawkey Way, with TC.

Burnsie surveying the scene.

Sean McAdam. It just seemed like every person who could possibly be there was there, for this first key stretch-drive series.

Heidi Watney on the field.

The Rays enjoying their final days in first place?

The big day, for me and for Fenway.

Pretty much same caption.

Beautiful September day. September is not fall, it's summer. Until the 21st or whatever.

This ringmaster dude would later sing the anthem. I didn't realize Kapstein was in the background until now. Earlier, I'd walked by Jeremy and said hi and chatted with him a bit. I never really told you all about the time my mom and I got to have a little meeting with him while "researching" our book. It was partly because it turned out we had a connection to him--my dad's good friend went to school with him, and partly because of our publisher getting us a little Fenway tour. Once the book comes out, I'll describe that scene.

Dick Vitale just went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and sat next to the Sox dugout on this night. At this point, I spotted Empy and we talked for a while. She said a friend of hers asked her if she'd heard of this new Red Sox mystery book coming out. Good sign! Empy also had just happened to buy an extra program, and gave it to me for my birthday, continuing the crazy destiny of this day.

Pretty good sign.

Man, hose technology has come a long way.

Finally out at "the seats." The Great Space Coaster, aka your 2008 Boston Red Sox.

Fenway was thanking us ten ways to Tuesday, and played a nice little video. I snapped this shot right when they showed the Varitek-Arod thing.

Timlin had to save Papi from getting hit. It's always dangerous when multiple people throw out first balls simultaneously. They brought out a woman whose family has had season tickets at Fenway since 1935!

The fan-greeting crew and bullpen band.

When the Sox took the field, they all threw out autographed balls to the crowd. I thought I had no shot, but then the bullpen guys started tossing them. I saw Okajima looking up my way, some 30 rows back, and he wound up and fired. He actually threw it past me, toward the grandstand....

The ball slammed off the side of the roof, and fell into the alley between bleachers and grandstand. Since my seats are literally the last ones over on the edge of the bleachers, I can look down there. The ball just missed a girl's head, bounced once, and finally this dude thought to grab it, probably having no idea where it came from, since you can't hear the PA down there. Here's a blurry shot of him inspecting the ball.

The game's about to start, and who do I see heading for seats right near me? The guy! You know, the "I LIKE BASEBALL" guy.

See? Three rows in front, and three seats over. What are the odds? He again brought out the Britney and the Tom Cruise signs, as well as the classic ILB. I really wanted to interview him or have him do a video spot for my blog, but I didn't.

Fenway at dusk.

The right field light tower above me.

We scored three in the first, capped off by this Bay dong. At this point, Kim finally arrives (she came separately from work), bringing me a veggie dog from Spike's. Great hot dog buns at that place. It was my first time eating their food.

Lester. The guy is just masterful. No runs given up by him, yet again. It was still 3-0 all the way to the 8th.

And he comes out, tipping his cap. Papelbon came in with the tying run up in the eighth and two out, and struck out Baldelli, in a very playoff-y environment. I thought people would leave early with school being back in, but people knew how key this series was. It was packed and crazy until the end. Ken Burns got a real show.

I got into a position where I could get right out of there when the win was secured, behind section one near that wide staricase.

And Papelbon gets the save, goin' a little nuts. Great win! A half game back....

Now two quick shots from before the game: A new thing at Fenway--little championship logos from each World Series-winning season, near the players' parking lot:

1. Happy birthday!

2. That game seemed completely amazing. It did not come across on TV how festive it was, with all the players and former players flitting through the crowd like that.

3. Spike's is awesome, and a landmark on Thayer...and I heard that it is tragically closing, like too many of the other landmarks there have recently. So eat up, bub.
All Spike's closing? Or just that one?
Great pics Jere. Was a great game to watch on t.v. You're right re. Yawkey Way. Really gives the lie to all of the people who wanted a retractable dome in South Boston because there "wasn't enough room" around Fenway.
I didn't even realize they were a chain. The one on Thayer at least. That street used to have fewer chain stores, and some of the cool local places have closed recently, but at least it still has weirdos hanging out on the sidewalk at all hours of the day...
I just stopped at that burrito/pizza place on my way up to Fenway yesterday. I always go to the burrito side.

Yeah, there's a Spike's in Boston, one in Davis Square right near where we lived in Somerville, and others I've seen.
I can't believe that I missed that 1st picture of Dewey and Louie until just now; I think if I had walked into Fenway to find Dewey waiting to meet and great, I would have reverted to my 12-yr-old self and just started gushing/babbling.

My wife and I met Louie at his sandwich stand the first time I took her to Fenway a few years ago (before we were married). He gave her quite a hug when we posed for a picture with him.
Jere ~ Love all the pics! It looked like it was a great time. You do such a wonderful job with your pictures and all of your scouting ... made me feel like I was there!
jfajm: Oh I gushed at Dewey. Under control gushing. He gave me a very heartfelt "thank you."

I've met Luis before, I think his Yawkey Way restaurant had just opened. He was there signing. I asked him to sign for my mom. He was like "no personal, no personal." And I was like, Oh, but she loves you, please, and he was like, "Okay." And instead of Mary-Ann, he wrote "Maryana." Close enough!

novy: Glad you enjoyed!
By the way, there's something else that I forgot to do in this thread...wish you a Happy Birthday. So, Happy Belated Birthday!

Terrible Job by me! Not as terrible as Mike Timlin's pitching, but TJ nonetheless. I hereby give myself a demerit.
Missed your birthday :( hope you had a great one!

Those pictures are terrific! Love the Timlins - as you knew!

They showed John Henry on tv and Burns was behind him and I yell "Hey that's Ken Burns!" to which the folks I watched with all said "Only you would know that". Not only me, huh?
jfajm, thanks. Though that game shoulda been over well before Mike came in.

jfbeaz: thanks. It was so weird suddenly watching Ken Burns filming a documentary. I was at Autograph Alley, at the end of the line, peering over to see if Joe Morgan had arrived. I asked the woman next to me if he was even there, and she started asking me who he was, saying how she wasn't a big baseball fan but figured she'd line up for whoever and give it to her husband who couldn't make it. I just finish explaining it to her, and all of a sudden, I run away--because Ken Burns and his crew walked right past me up that (underrated) staircase, and I followed him right up. They were getting shots from up there of Yawkey Way and the '04 and '07 banners. I really hope I got in those shots...

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Location: Rhode Island, United States