I recently got back from a few days in the great city of Boston.
Given the history attached to the ballpark, I made a point of going to a game at Fenway Park while I was there, taking in the Red Sox’s game against the Orioles last Monday (26 September).
As I had seen the Boston Celtics play at TD Garden during previous visits to the city years ago, I already knew about the wonderful atmosphere Boston fans create at sports events, and this was confirmed when I watched the New England Patriots play the Baltimore Ravens the day before at Gillette Stadium.
To say it was a joy to attend a game at Fenway Park would be an understatement though. Instead, even as someone of the Athletics, a team in direct competition with the Red Sox in the American League, I would go so far as to say it is the best baseball game I have ever attended.
Firstly, the atmosphere was amazing, and a lot of that had to do with the Red Sox fans, who were engaged with the action from the first pitch and throughout. I was sat along the third base line close to a sizeable bunch of visiting Orioles fans behind the away team dugout, and, in fairness, the same should also be said for them and the rest of the Orioles’ travelling fans. During the game I attended, there was also a nearly-two-hour rain delay following the bottom of the second inning. While many in attendance did understandably take cover in the concourses, many of the fans of both teams stayed out in the stands and contributed to what became a party atmosphere while we all waited for the rain to let up – there was a guy doing cartwheels in the rain as an outfield dance party formed in response to the rain-themed playlist whoever at Fenway is responsible for music put on and we all joined in a sing-along to ABBA’s Dancing Queen while the grounds crew were re-preparing the field towards the end of the delay. Once play resumed, that fully-engaged fanbase returned to their seats and there was then a full-throated rendition of Sweet Caroline by those left in attendance during the eighth inning (which was played after midnight because of the rain delay, it should be said).
The stadium itself also plays a part in why it’s great to attend a game at Fenway too – as it’s a small ballpark, everyone is relatively close to the action no matter where they are sat. I would also say that the sightlines are pretty good if it wasn’t for the fact that I was sat in the Grandstand and so, I had the upper deck blocking my view of any hit that looped up high and a pillar blocking my view of any hits that sailed towards the Green Monster seats (that upper deck did provide very good protection during the rain delay though…).
Fenway being a small ballpark also means that there is an unusually high number of home runs too, which undoubtedly contributes to the engaged fanbase and the great atmosphere. For example, during the game, there were a total of seven home runs, Cedric Mullins’ home run off the second pitch of the night being particularly good.
As this is a baseball website, it’s only right that I spend a few words on the game itself too. As previously stated, the atmosphere, being close to the action and the unusually high number of home runs made it the best game of baseball I’ve ever attended with the final score being 14-8 to the Orioles. It was also a pleasure to see Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers play live, and I was impressed by what I saw of Alex Verdugo as well. On the pitching side, I really respected that relief pitcher Eduard Bazardo was still zinging fastballs at the Orioles line-up during the final two innings when the game had already got away from the Red Sox. In terms of the Orioles, Gunnar Henderson has been very impressive since he got the call-up to the major leagues a couple of months ago, and this game was no different, with two hits, two RBIs, a home run and multiple walks. Same for Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle too, and it has to be said that Anthony Santander performed his role as designated hitter for the night perfectly, getting two home runs.
In short then, go to a game at Fenway Park if you can, regardless of who you support – I’ll definitely be trying to convince one of my mates to go to an Athletics game at Fenway with me next year, for example.
In particular, try to coincide your visit with when one of Boston’s other teams – the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Revolution – are also playing. Fenway Park does not have a monopoly on great atmosphere, and I can say from experience that watching the Celtics or Patriots play live is a wonderful experience given the raucous atmosphere their fans create in a city that loves its sports teams.
Featured image – Author’s own
Brett is the Team Contributor for the Oakland Athletics and can be found on Twitter @BrettWalkerPR.