When I knew I was going to visit Boston, I thought I’d take advantage of the trip and see those things I couldn’t see at home and try to understand a little more about America.
Consequently almost my first reaction was to check if the Boston Redsox were playing a match whilst I was there. I was lucky, not only were they playing, they were playing the New York Yankees. Even though I know nothing about baseball, I had an inkling that this was a “big one”. So I booked the tickets for an evening of entertainment at Fenway Park.
Booking online was of course really easy, the choice was huge and the prices were pretty reasonable. And I ordered tickets for 3 of us to go together.
Going to the game was fun: a really pleasant and friendly atmosphere surrounded the ground, with supporters from both sides mixing comfortably.
And then we got to Fenway Park which was a truly lovely old stadium. Full of character and a real buzz of excitement. In the bowels of the stadium we
decided to do the next most important thing which was to get ta burger and some beer – prerequisites for a baseball match I reckon.
And the choice was fabulous: all the things I expected to see were there on sale and all the outlets were busy.
Beer was readily available, but here’s the thing: you had to show your ID to get served. And try as I might, I couldn’t see the point of doing so. At the ripe old age of 58 now, it really would be hard to question if I’m old enough to drink. But that was what happened. Odd!
And another oddity was that you can’t buy more than 2 beers in one go. And as there were 3 of us in our party it meant that the first man to the counter who offered to get a round in (British style) could only buy one for himself and one other. That left me to buy my own. Maybe it would have made more sense for each of us to buy 2 pints and save queuing again.
Lubricated it was time for some food: Pulled Pork sandwich was the chosen fare. And what a sandwich it was. When I was asked at the stall how I’d like it I told the attendant that I’d not had one before and it would be good if he could make it memorable. He did and it was.
Hot, full of flavour and laden with pickles, gherkins and coleslaw. Juices ran down my fingers and beard as I ate it. It was a great feast.
Now it was time to get onto the Coke Deck to watch the game. And what a view of a fabulous stadium. I was so glad that I’d made the trek to the match. this was clearly a special sporting venue.
Then it all started to go wrong as the game started. I know I don’t know the rules, but none of this made sense.
From the first ball that was pitched there was “controversy” as someone in the crowd tried to catch the ball that was going over the fence resulting in a long discussion between the umpires. I asked the gentleman next to me to explain what was happening and he just said that he too was confused.
That however was an opening to more questions and we struck up a good chat about the game. Eventually he said that the game itself “is a bit slow”, which I put down as an understatement, but “when things happened they did happen rather quickly”.
I tried hard to understand what was happening: but in truth I couldn’t, but then it started to dawn on me. The crowd were chatting, food was being eaten, beer was being drunk and people were having a good time with friends.
Food attendants were moving through the stands selling more and more and everyone was having a pretty good time.
I asked the guy next to me about the number of matches in a season and was stunned when he said 168. And even more stunned when he told me that the Redsox would play the Yankees over 20 times a year.
Then the mist cleared: just looking around made it clear that the whole purpose of baseball is to get 60,000+ people into an environment on any night of the week, feed them well, keep them watered and let them chat with their mates. All in the pursuit of making money.
It was a win-win: a relatively affordable night out with friends many times a year made good sense for all. Especially the franchise owners of the teams concerned.
At the end I decided that the only point of baseball is to eat burgers, drink beer and have a good time with your mates. That’s what I did and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But unlike resident Americans, I probably won’t be going again.