Fenway Park at Dusk: Nine Innings in Heaven
Have you ever experienced a dream so vivid, so real, that once awoken from you used everything you could think of to enter its surreal shadows again?
Or perhaps at such a place that you were completely at peace, perfect amid your surroundings like you actually were made for this world?
Those moments are few and broadcast with great care throughout one’s life journey. They are so rare indeed that by the time you find yourself within the ethereal grasp of one, anything past has been long forgotten, dismissed somewhere between a dream and a fantasy.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a small Massachusetts town. My home was a mere 20 miles or so south of Boston during a time when there wasn't a boy anywhere who didn't go to bed at night chasing the dream of being Tony Conigliaro, Carl Yastrzemski, or that young fireballer Jim Lonborg.
Then, while at breakfast one early August morning, that remarkable moment was about to transpire. My dad reached into his shirt pocket and removed an envelope and tossed it down on the center of the table, almost into the pot of oatmeal.
My younger brother and I never looked up until Bobby, the oldest, piped up, “Dad, are those Red Sox tickets?" Before he could reply, Bobby exclaimed, as our heads raised up from that creamy, delicious oatmeal, "For tonight, dad? Tonight?”
An explosion of excitement rattled the kitchen as my father pushed away from the table saying, “Be ready when I get home."
“When’s that, dad?” I yelled.
"By about 4:00,” he replied. Needless to say, we were ready to go by 9:30 a.m. and spent the day as restless as a couple boys could be.
We left on time, piling into dad’s car. Bobby sat in the front, my younger brother and myself on each side of the back. At that time I don't recall ever seeing Boston, and as the skyline appeared some 30 minutes later, I stared transfixed and nearly catatonic out my window.
Soon enough we pulled into some dirt-top parking lot.
What follows is an interpretation. I approached the front gate hand-in-hand with my younger brother. "Stay together kids," warned my dad. I'm surprised my eyes didn't roll out from their sockets they were stretched so wide.
Twists and turns and more people in one place than I ever thought possible, we turned again and began an ascent. With every step, every meter left behind, the hum grew louder. There were echos, screams, and out-of-sync clapping of hands. My heart jumped, thumped, and I was about to enter a world far removed from anything I could have imagined.
Suddenly, as we stood atop that final rise, all sounds ceased and my eyes scanned in slow motion at all that stood before me, from right field to left until coming to rest upon that huge, storied Green Monster.
Could it be? I tried to catch my breath, the scent of grass, freshly trimmed and so green, the greenest grass, the greenest everything I have ever seen! Then the roar of the crowd began invading my head until it bellowed full force like a Nor'easter.
The next thing I knew, I was sitting in a seat right behind the dugout. "The Red Sox dugout!” I screamed.
My older brother and I sat staring at each other for the next several minutes, not knowing just what to do next. “Far out, huh, man," he exclaimed. I don't know if I answered him, but I do know I studied every move those players made that glorious night. Huge lights shone like stars upon the very stars of my world.
I don't remember who won the game, not even who the opposing team was. What I do recall, though, was the awe that consumed me, perfection in my world that would stay with me for quite a long time after just like that dream you never want to awaken from.
I was part of something then that I knew would be emblazoned within me for eternity.
Oh, and one more thing; I do remember the heavenly taste of a Fenway Frank with Gulden’s mustard.
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