Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fenway, America the Beautiful...and veggie dogs?

Baseball mystifies me. My opinions on baseball are limited to critiquing the beards and bell-bottom pants that seem to be part of the modern baseball uniform. Am I the only one who misses those knickers that came to the knee, and clean-shaven guys looking snappy at bat? The Red Sox seem to have enough collective facial hair to weave a roof to cover Fenway.

But no matter! Suffice it to say that I did not expect my visit to Fenway to be life-changing. But I felt it was my duty as a Bostonian to at least investigate. So, with my $8 ticket, off I went to Kenmore on the Green line, into the carnival that is Yawkey Way. For those new to Fenway, Yawkey Way is a little street outside the main entrance to Fenway, wherein you will find concession stands, guys on stilts, brass bands, and stores with Red Sox goodies.

But I was saving my stomach for the concession stands inside Fenway. You see, I'd been told that the crucial things to have at Fenway are peanuts, a beer, and a dog. And since normal dogs aren't an option, I'd done a little research and found that one concession stand in the entirety of Fenway sells veggie dogs. It is hidden far off in the corner of the concession strip, almost as if it is hiding in embarrassment. And truth be told, I was expecting something that deserved shameful exile. But, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a fair sized dog, with a nice bun, and except for a slightly mushy interior, it was perfectly edible once it was loaded up with condiments.

Had I been behaving, I would have followed expert advice and eaten this with a beer and a packet of peanuts. But I was sucked in elsewhere, and ended up with onion rings (tasty), a slice of pizza (nothing special), and an 8 oz cup of soda that cost $5. The prices at Fenway are ear bleeding. I paid $26 for lunch. And another $6 for watery-tasting ice cream in a little plastic Red Sox hat.

If were I basing my experience in Fenway on gastronomics, I would have come home a slightly sulky Babe. But the minute I walked into the arena, to thousands of excited Red Sox fans, I realized why this place has such a special place in Boston's heart.

There is something about Fenway that feels old, in a good way. Sit in one of the wood seats, and it isn't too hard to imagine that it is 1912, the year Fenway opened. Add to that the sheer enthusiasm of Red Sox fans, and you have a really special experience. Even up in the worst bleacher seats, people were cheering and decked out in Red Sox hats.

On the day I went, a veteran with prosthetic limbs threw the first pitch. And when the microphone died on the policeman singing the National Anthem, the entire stadium pitched in and helped him finish the song. For those cynical about patriotism, an afternoon in Fenway will remind you of the better part of America. Sounds too corny, you say? Go to Fenway. See if you don't cry during the National Anthem. See if you don't come away feeling like you understand Boston a little better. Trust me, you will have a blast, even if you're a Yankees fan!

For those who don't want to go during a game, you can take a tour of Fenway on non-game days and learn about the history of the place.