Thursday, July 30, 2009


So when Allan's partner Laura spread the news of a Joy of Sox day at Fenway many months ago, I was excited to go and meet everybody. But their seats were $75 each. Knowing that the only $75 seats at Fenway are in the Coke section, I went online and immediately bought a $25 Coke section standing room ticket, so I could at least get up there, and hopefully grab a seat with them in the late innings. (click all pics for big-ifyin')

In the meantime, all year I waited for the announcement of a Jim Rice Day, and a few days before Tuesday, they announced that would be the day. So it was set up for double-fun.

I was able to get out of work at 4:10. I was 80 miles from Fenway, and I knew traffic would be bad at that time. I needed to see Jim Rice's 14 retired, as he was always a hero of mine. So I drove like crazy. I was giving the finger to moms driving minivans. I have no A/C. It was a horribly humid day. It was a race against time and fools. I knew I had to be parked by 6:30 to ensure getting in for the ceremony. Incredibly, I pulled into a 2-hour meter spot that goes until 8 PM at exactly 5:59. I put in my eight quarters, took the 7-minute walk to Fenway, and there I was, with time to spare.

I was able to go up to the Cumb. Farms section and get a close-up of the covered-red-14. Then I walked around, planning my attack for the 'mony. I thought about going out to left field, figuring they might have him out there, but when I saw a row of seats lined up on the first base line, I knew right where I'd go.

Just before things started up, I went right down to the closest empty seat to the field I could find. Second row. Right next to an old couple who also clearly didn't have those seats. We all hoped the people who did have them wouldn't come, and they didn't. (But if they did, I was prepared to linger in the aisle--when everyone's standing anyway, you blend in doing that, and you're not blocking anyone's view.)

(Lucchino talks with Drinwater--who I just heard some news about from a commenter, which I'll share with you later.)

(the above two are Nomar shots--I knew he'd greet Rice, but right at the point of their hug I was switching modes on my camera, so I only got a blurry shot of that)

(the Joy of Sox section--I just shot and looked later--I can see only Ish and his dad in this shot, but at the time, I had no clue, except I saw that same old woman up there, the one from the old couple who were next to me at the ceremony!)

Tom Caron and Joe Castiglione were hanging around down there with Lucchino, Henry, and Werner. TC and Joe emceed the event, and they started bringing out the big guns:

Fred Lynn and Jim Rice: The Gold Dust Twins share a hug.

Eckersley walks past Fisk, Lynn, and Bob Montgomery.

Eck's moss as he greets Jim Ed.

Left to right: Members of the Rice family, Lucchino, Henry, Werner, Berardino, Montgomery, Lynn, Fisk, Eckersley, Stanley--and I couldn't get Dewey in the shot but you'll see him later.

A TV in the front row showing NESN.

Lynn and Fisk.

Dennis Eckersley, the Steamer, and Dwight Evans.

As soon as it was over, I decided to high-tail it to the pavilion. Even though I could have tried to stay and get some early innings in from the good seats, I was more than happy with what I'd just witnessed. I ended up getting a good spot up in the Pavilion SRO close to home on the first base side.

When I saw Nomar earlier this month, he had number 1. But with Matt Holliday gone, he's got 5 again. Woohoo!

Bob Stanley, and others, walked right behind me to get to and from the box they all watched the game from. Everyone cheered Rice as he went back and forth.

Papi breaks his bat.

I kept my eye on the Coke section, even trying to spot the JoSers in row G through my camera. I was hoping it would clear out, but the game was going so fast, and was still somewhat close, so I had to wait. I didn't head over there until the eighth. (In the above shot, see the guy in the yellow-orange shirt? Right above him is Laura, and to the right of Laura is Allan.)

I got to the front corner of the section and started looking for Allan. Soon, a bunch of people I'd never seen before were waving at me (see below shot), and I finally spotted Allan and Laura.

I could see there were no empty seats near them, so I hoped for a between-inning meet-up. Soon, my boy Ish came over, and we chatted for a while. At this point, the A's were getting hits, and got the tying run up down three, but it still didn't seem like a threat. it almost felt like we'd already won a quick game, and now it was all about meeting some people I'd known for so long, but only as words on a screen.
A spot opened up behind the crew, and we headed over there. I was closer to Allan and Laura, and they and everyone else waved, but I still wasn't close enough for actual intros. I'd never met them, though I'd talked to Allan on the phone. Current Rhode Islander "Benjamin," formerly "Phil" was right in front of me, so I got to meet him, as we all watched Papelbon to come in and quickly and easily end the perfect evening at Fenway.

Above, the Joy crew waving at me--this was after I talked to them when I moved down to the empty front row. Allan and Laura and Nick and daughter in middle, SoSock waving at far right. Soon the 7-4 lead turned to 7-7, with Nick Green doing the Little League move of throwing a ball to first on a play where he had no chance. But as a bonus, the ball went into the dugout. We were all just shocked. The place turned into a library. The JoS crew got to see all the possible goodness of a Fenway night, and then complete other side of it--stunned silence. For a long time, it turned out, as the game went to extra innings. The A's finally pulled ahead, and our 11th-inning rally fell short, as we left the tying run on third--below, Drew almost hits a walk-off homer.

But I finally got to meet Allan and Laura. And when it was over, I met Nick and SoSock and Amy.

And then on Lansdowne Street, I was telling Nick a secret about the T, one I learned from my pal Empy. And literally at that moment, Empy appeared before me. I had no idea she would be at the game, and she had no idea I'd be standing on the opposite side of the park from where I usually exit. She said she had been in left field, and when I looked at my pics later, there she was, clear as day. If you scroll back up to the shot of Rice entering from left field with the 310 marker behind him, you see Empy in the front row with her camera in a blue shirt. And now I'm looking at her pics, and I see ME taking a shot in the background of her Nomar-hugs-Rice shot! In the crowd, the woman the bottom left is that same old woman I've mentioned twice already. And I'm right behind her, camera to face.

So the entire day went down exactly as planned, except for that really crappy ending. It was a memorable night to say the least.

Papi juicing in '03...what say you Mr. Smith?
We'll see what Papi says about it. I hope he says something. The only thing that can really happen to excuse it is if he says he's not on the list, the list comes out, and he really isn't on it. But I'd like to see what he has to say.
What if he says basically the same crap A-Rod said? I don't even know what to think right now, although a lot of the signs were there I guess...rapid rise, rapid decline...I dunno...If he says he stopped in '03, do we believe him? I mean, does anybody believe A-Rod's story? Does it matter? Are the titles tainted, as many of us have insinuated that the Yanks' success has been tainted?
Hi Jere - any chance you are coming to Baltimore this weekend? I have extra tickets for Friday and Satursday and if you were coming down, I'd love to have you join us!
Jeff, thanks for the offer but I have a wedding this weekend. (Nowhere near Baltimore....)

Matty, he's already gotten off to a bad start with the "I don't know what I tested for" line. I just feel like every guy who knows he did something has had so long to just admit if BEFORE getting caught, yet no one has ever had the guts to do that.
It was great to meet you in person, Jere! Thanks for the pics and the plug.
You, too!
After the fact comment -
It was great to see you in person, along with all those other folks I'd only "typed" to before.
I think I probably came the farthest, about 830 miles, but that was just the beginning. I brought my dear friend Chris, who has Early Onset Parkinson's Disease, along with me and we made a week of it. Spent the day Wed. in Boston, mostly in the Public Garden and Commons area, then drove to Cooperstown. Spent all day Thur. in the Hall of Fame then drove to Manhatten. Chris had never been to NYC or past so he was seeing a lot for the 1st time. Had a room just a block off Times Square, (for free!) wandered around there Thur. night. Spent the day Friday showing Chris a quick overview of NYC, although that's really impossible. He can only walk so much but he was a trouper, never complained, and I had to watch him to know when we needed to stop for a while. Took him to the Ob. Deck on the Empire St Bldg, and St Patrick's Cathedral where he lit a candle for his mom and my wife. Fortunately I'm fairly familiar with the Metro and we used it a lot so he got to sit occasionally. Went by Prof. Thom's but did not get to meet Quinn :(
Next stop Atlantic City as Chris is a big fan of the casinos, but had never been there. Nor had I. After a way-too-late night in one of the biggest we drove home today. It's about 1:30 Sat night (Sun morn) now and I've only been home a couple of hours.
I'm one sated individual right now!
Wow, Fenway, NYC, AC. Three "Jere" places. (We used to go to AC for vacation every year, one winter and one summer.)

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Location: Rhode Island, United States