Falling for Fenway... My long term relationship with Baseball
Baseball : How we found each other.
In March 2006 I happened to find myself in Boston, competing (attending with a racket) in the US Open of Rackets at the T&R on Boylston Street.
For those unfamiliar with the Rackets, you can check it out here, but it's safe to say that the social side of the tournament was what had led me there, rather than the hope of winning (even one match!).
Without going into the finer details, I would say that my love affair with Baseball started in the bar at the T&R. A friend described the baseball swing as 'a thing of beauty', and proceeded to demonstrate the pitchers wind up with such enthusiasm that I just (for once), shut up and listened. He explained grips, location, movement, all whilst a game played out on the big screen TV in front of us.
At this moment he could have sold me a chocolate teapot; I needed to find out more.
So I sat in the bar watching this game that I knew very little about, marvelling at guns for arms and speed between bases. I started to pick up on a bit of jargon here and there and figured this was something I could get into.
So I liked the look of the game. The speed of the pitch, the movement, how hard it is to hit a ball with a round bat; all these contributed to me being dead set on getting to know baseball. But it was getting to know someone else a little better that really sent me over the edge....
After a particularly amusing night in and around Newbury St and the Back Bay, I woke up in an apartment I didn't recognise, with a woman that I vaguely did. Doing my best to check the early kick-off football scores on her laptop without waking her, I steeled myself for a potentially hazardous walk of shame.
Having negotiated an exit with the promise of lunch the following day, I mooched my way out of the apartment block, which was near to a main road. As I turned the corner I saw what I now know to be the famous 'Citgo sign'.
I had literally stumbled upon Fenway Park on a Sunday morning. No one was around apart from a few street sweepers and people cleaning the bars free of the previous nights memories.
I was hit by the Americana, the nostalgia, the innocence of it all. I think being a romantic type, this game was always going to get me.
I went to get a mate and made him come back with me to buy some stash, and take photo's of me in front of various signs and statues which I knew nothing about.
We went to Lids to get Green Red Sox caps embroidered with "US Open Rackets 2006"...I was a goner.
Some 10 years later I had the privilege of sitting along the 3rd base line, on a sunny, beer soaked afternoon at Fenway. Sweet Caroline ringing out... I'm just saying, once you've had a day like that, you'll be hooked too.
So I put down my real love of baseball to what was a spectacular walk of shame. Which is just fine by me.
In recent years I've been to Kauffman Stadium, New Yankee Stadium, obviously Fenway and Campbell's Field, home of the Camden River Sharks. (If you really want to get baseball, you need to go to minor league games... this is where you'll quench your thirst for Bull Durham.)
It's been over a decade of late nights, early mornings, checking scores upon waking and devouring baseball books by the dozen... My mistress truly has me hooked.