This year of 2017 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of a dream trip my college roommate (Bill) and I took in 1992 to see a game in every Major League Baseball stadium.
After visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, our first port of call was Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
I have written before about a side trip Bill and I took while in Boston, but I would like to share some photos about our time in the historic venue of Fenway.
Bill and I actually saw a pair of games at Fenway Park. The first was on May 1, 1992, – a night game – where the Red Sox rallied to beat the Kansas City Royals 6-5. We also bought seats for the next game, a day contest between the same two teams.
Here we are at Gate A at Fenway Park.
Our seats were down the third base line near the famed Green Monster (bottom). Back then, a quarter century ago, there were no seats above the left field wall as there are today.
One of the techniques I tried to do while taking photos in the stadium was to snap picture in such a way so that I could create a collage afterwards. Below is my first attempt from our time in Boston’s ballpark on the Fens.
As I said, our seats were straight down the third-base line.
Bill and I turned our adventure into a book entitled The Smell of Astroturf in the Afternoon: The Lost Last Masterpiece of B.T. I-70. We turned some of the experiences we actually had into tales we weave into our narrative.
This is one such story. (p. 35-6, if you want to read along with your own copy)
Yawkey Way is also one many battlefields in a skirmish that surrounds Fenway and may be known in later years as The Great Program War. While walking outside Fenway, I saw a young man in his twenties selling programs for one dollar. However, not more than thirty feet away, inside the park’s confines, there was another man at a podium selling a Red Sox program for two bucks. I walked up to the young man selling on the street and asked him what was going on. He explained to me that he was selling the Boston Underground program and that the other vendor was hawking the official Red Sox game day program. Since the underground program is not sanctioned by the Boston franchise, this program cannot sell inside Fenway or use the term “Red Sox” in its title. However, he continued, even with those disadvantages, his program was still selling well because (as he claimed) they now had color photographs, insightful articles, new issues for every homestand, and their program was cheaper. The Underground program isn’t made of high-quality paper (what do you expect for $1), but it does have a scorecard.
My next line of questioning was directed towards the official vendor, who makes his presence known by heckling the Underground kid taunts such as “Who wants to buy that rag?”, “Get the real program over here!”, and the ever-popular “Get outta here, ya bum!” I asked him what he thought about the competition and when he opened his mouth and started his answer with, “Well, ya know…”, I had to take a step back and catch my breath. I had found Cliff Clavin. John Ratzenberger may play Cliff on Cheers, but I had stumbled across the real thing. This vendor’s tone, accent, and use of short, choppy sentences must have been the role model for Ratzenberger. It wasn’t until I left that I found out that every native Bostonian speaks like this.
In between accepting two dollars for his program, Cliff told me that the Underground program was hurting his business. He had a family to help support and it meant less money for him every time a patron bought the other program over his. Cliff also said that many people were upset when they discovered that they had not bought the official program and had wasted a dollar. When asked about the advantages of the official program, he said that is was printed on higher-quality paper, was bigger, had better articles, and it contained a scorecard. I inquired if the Red Sox management was planning to do something about the unofficial vendors and he replied, “I’ve heard that something is in the works.” And the War goes on.
That’s our story.
I have no word, circa 2017, if the Underground program still exists.
P.S. If you want to know our next stop on this dream baseball trip, you’ll have to stay tuned.