Last Friday, I had a SURREAL Fenway experience with my oldest pal in the world, Ben. The whole night felt stranger than fiction, and it’s taken a week to (attempt to) process.
Here’s a Retroactive Running Diary (all times approximate):
6:27—Ben’s dad calls to ask where our seats are. He tells us that one of his physical therapy patients happens to be The Unofficial Biggest Red Sox Fan.
“She’s Ms. Frizzle with a crazy hat. You’ve probably seen her on TV before. She’s at every game. She gives behind-the-scene tours. She’ll come up to get you after the third.”
7:10—Ben and I realize we’ve missed the first pitch. We hadn’t seen each other in almost two years and lost track of time catching up/eating outside the park/imitating the insufferable Mark Wahlberg.
7:14—We RUN inside in the bottom half of the first inning, through the lower dungeon towards our seats and see, on a TV above a beer stand, Luis Severino going UP and IN and AT Mookie’s head on an 0-0 fastball. It’s the Yankees’ attempt to get back at Rick Porcello for gently plunking Brett Gardiner in the top-half of the first. It’s pathetic. And indefensible: Porcello’s was on an 0-2 breaking ball; Severino’s was a 96-mile-an-hour heater. On the first pitch. At Mookie’s head.
We see Mookie duck—on the TV—then we barrel up the tunnel to the field as Alex Cora simultaneously barrels out from the dugout to the batter’s box to tell the ump and the Yankees to politely get the FOH. We sit down just as Cora gets tossed—who then instantaneously becomes enshrined in the Hall of Fame For Managers Who Have Their Players’ Backs.
7:15—I turn to Ben. “THERE’S GONNA BE A BRAWL TONIGHT.”
7:15—Ben points at his arm. “I HAVE ACTUAL GOOSEBUMPS.”
Ben used to go to Fenway growing up, but he’s lived in LA for most of the last nine years. Our last game together was in August 2000 when we saw the Sox lose to the Royals. I remember specific things from that random game when I was nine (Wakefield pitched. Sox lost 3-1. Johnny Damon, then on the Royals, stole second and third during the same at-bat while Rey Sanchez was up.), but I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast two days ago.
(Ben’s mom and my mom have been dear pals since the first day of ninth grade, and they essentially raised all six of their kids together. When I was three, Ben introduced me to fart jokes. When I was seven, Ben introduced me to The Sandlot, which we’d watch then reenact in his backyard. When I was fifteen, Ben introduced me to The Office. I wrote about him being Harry Styles’ long-lost twin a little over a year ago.)
7:25—Some turd on the Yankees goes deep to left.
Ben: “That was fair?! I didn’t even see where that went.”
Me: “I really hope this isn’t one of those games where Porcello implodes in the fourth inning…”
7:29—Steve Pearce sends a no-doubt LINER over the Monster, his FOURTH homer in two nights. 3-0 good guys. We jump, scream, high-five strangers, smugly wink at nearby Yankees fans. It’s mayhem. And only the bottom of the second.
7:47—An older lady wearing a HAT makes her way up the aisle.
“That must be our Ms. Frizzle!”
7:48—We introduce ourselves and start following Lynne, our trusty tour-guide.
“So, you have a Lego for every player on there? Even that bum, David Price?”
She maybe doesn’t hear me and turns to a man seated along the aisle.
“David’s gonna have a great start on Sunday. I can feel it.”
She continues plodding up the aisle. “That was David Price’s dad.”
7:50—“These are the players’ cars. Big Papi’s son, D’Angelo, used to run around here when he was a little boy.”
7:54—“This is the Fenway garden. They grow kale and peppers and everything here.”
Ben, lifelonger farmer, melts.
7:57—“This is the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Do you boys know any of these players?”
Know? Like, know their batting average from 1978? Their nephew’s dog’s name? Their social security number? Yes, yes, and 98% sure.
8:01—Lynne bobs along and leads us to the Green Monster. Security sees Lynne, smiles, then reflexively waves us along with her. Seven people have already stopped her to take a picture of her and her hat. Walking around Fenway with Lynne isn’t unlike walking around a barbecue convention with Guy Fieri: we’re with THE celebrity, THE connoisseur, and, with her hat and his hair, THE picture-worthy icon.
8:01—Naturally, there are two empty seats. In the front row. On the Green Monster. Lynne encourages us to sit down in them.
8:01-8:11—*shrieks of pure joy*
8:11-8:13—Ben and I wave at Andrew “Benny Baseball” Benintendi down in left field below us.
8:17—Ben and I remind each other that we’re sitting on the Green Monster.
8:23—Severino gets yankeed. 115 pitches without even getting out of the sixth inning. LOL: https://twitter.com/Jared_Carrabis/status/1025769590591291393
8:26—Ben and I look across the field to see Porcello’s line: 6 innings. 66 pitches.
8:26-8:30—“WAIT. PORCLELLO’S THROWING A ONE-HITTER?!!? ON 66 PITCHES THROUGH SIX INNINGS?!!? AND THE ONE HIT WAS THAT HOMER IN THE SECOND INNING RIGHT BEFORE WE LEFT OUR SEATS? HE HASN’T GIVEN UP A HIT SINCE WE’VE BEEN GONE? NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE, THE KELLY CLARKSON SONG.”
8:42—Lynne, Ben, and I start groovin’ to some music.
8:42—Lynne, Ben, and I IMMEDIATELY appear on the JumboTron while groovin’.
8:43—Ben and I wonder where the camera was that was filming us, how it found us right away, and whether we’re, in fact, starring in the sequel to The Truman Show. And like with anything Fenway-related, Lynne knows the answer:
“It’s over by the first base dugout. Must have seen us all the way over there!”
9:07—Lynne, Ben, and I leave the Monster to head back to our real seats for the ninth inning, aware that Porcello has tossed five perfect innings since we’d left our real seats—and not wanting to potentially jinx perfection but also wanting to return, poetically, from our euphoric, left field odyssey for the last frame. (Also, I’d accidentally left my water bottle in our real seats. So that, too.) Four more people ask to take a picture of Lynne’s hat.
9:16—Ben and I thank Lynne and give her a huge hug.
9:18—Porcello, still, has only allowed one hit. Flustered by a lot of things—Porcello’s incomparable masterpiece, our dancing cameo on the big screen—I walk down the wrong aisle and accidentally bump into David Price’s dad.
9:18— *gives awkward thumbs-up to David Price’s dad then scurries away*
9:24—Jackie makes another routine Jackie catch in center that would make even Willie Mays blush.
9:26— Game. Set. Match. Point. Game over. End of game. 4-1 good guys.
9:32—We get on the T, glowing, SHOCKED that the game—a Yankees-Sox game!—took 2 hours 16 minutes. SHOCKED that Porcello threw a one-hitter on 86 pitches. SHOCKED that we were ushered around Boston’s Baseball Holy Land by our own Tinker Bell.
9:52—Ben, unsurprisingly, says something very funny. I laugh. And spill not a small amount of water all over the face of a sleeping Yankees fan and the legs of his sleeping Yankees fan wife.
9:52—I apologize then keep apologizing.
9:52—Ben, to everyone: “I was really hoping this was our stop because it’d be really awkward to have to talk to you guys now.”
*Enjoyable conversation between water spiller, water spillees, and friend of water spiller for the next 10 minutes before water spiller and friend of water spiller get off at their actual stop*
*End scene/fairtyle night*