Monday, July 16, 2007
Inside The Park (1)
It's Memorial Day, a public holiday here in the United States. The morning humidity has been burned away by a fierce sun and in deference to the spirit of the day, and to the heat, folks are moving unhurriedly into the park. We are searched in a somewhat desultory fashion at the entrance behind home plate, and then we're in. Rob points out a beer stand, the only one, he remarks, where you'll get a decent beer during the game. It seems hopelessly far from our seats. Beneath the grandstand, cleverly, everything's painted in neutral off-white and grey shades, to exaggerate the great splash of green within. We walk along the first base side a little and then head up a ramp into the park.
Hundreds of people better qualified than myself have struggled to pinpoint the strange charm of Fenway. Some are overwhelmed by the greenness, or the intimacy. For me the most remarkable thing is that it seems, at first sight, to be both big and small. You marvel at the proximity of the Pesky Pole to home plate, then marvel again at the soccer-pitch-sized expanse of fair territory beyond it in right. The great inscrutable flatness of The Green Monster confuses the eye. A groundskeeper seems to physically shrink as he runs along it out towards centre. I experience the special thrill of being there; when you've seen the drama unfold on television and then come to see it in the flesh it's akin to walking onto the set of your favourite movie, while they're filming the sequel, but better still it's real. Everything that I will see happen tonight is real, and cannot be rewritten. It's an exhilarating realisation, and at about this point some dust makes its inexplicable way beneath my spectacles, causing my eyes to water a little.
Manny Ramirez, the great righthander, and David Ortiz, his colossal counterpart, are taking batting practice. Ortiz is being rested today, so this will likely be my only chance to see him hit.
He sprays half a dozen balls into the bleachers in right without apparent effort. Then Manny takes over and, interestingly, hits each of his pitches out the same way. I'm transfixed, of course, and I fail to notice that Rob has disappeared until he emerges from the bowels of Fenway bearing gifts; a program, a gameday newsletter and a Red Sox pencil. He presses them upon me. "Gotta get a program on your first visit," he explains. We disperse again towards our respective seats. Cyn and I are in the last two seats of Row 15, Section 43, righthandmost of the Right Field bleachers, where there is no shade from the merciless, lowering sun. I steel myself with a couple of tasteless yet fantastically expensive beers.