Watching games on TV is great. You can get food and beer anytime you want. You can switch the channel when you team is getting pummeled. You don’t have to wait in post game traffic. However, you miss out on the smells, sights, and sounds of being a true witness to Boston Sports History.
Pulling into Gillette stadium at 9am for a 1pm game. You are with your “tailgate” buddies eating burgers and wings at 10am when other people are feasting on French toast and omelets. You trade stories of your past week while imbibing on a few tasty micro-brewed beverages.
Arriving at An Tua Nua on Beacon Street prior to a Sox game. You get to enjoy some pre game grub at an affordable price I might add. A few beers later then you make your way to the hallow halls of Fenway Park. Your nose is assaulted by the smells of the ballpark. Italian Sausages. Popcorn. Beer and the fear of the opposing team’s fans.
Hitting the Boston Beer Works on Canal Street before a Bruins or Celts game. Downing some pitchers of Boston Red and then maybe a quick Corona at Hurricane O’Reilly’s. You are dressed in Black and Gold or Green depending on who is handing out the pain at TD Bank North Garden.
This is what it’s all about! Regular season or Playoff game, no matter. Boston swells with excitement and anticipation as one of its favorite teams take the field, court, or rink. It’s game on, literally! This is installment one of a series of unforgettable games that I attended in my life. Please feel free to comment and share your experiences too.
Let’s rewind back to 1994. Grunge killed Hair Metal. Clinton was in office and the Patriots almost moved to St. Louis. Bill Parcells was in his second year of rebuilding the Pathetic Patsies.
As a young 21 year old, I had the opportunity to buy season tickets for about $300 a year. No brainer. Drinking beers with your friends and watching football? Where do I sign? My seats were about 18 rows off the field on the goaline at the trash can that was Foxboro Stadium.
There were no restaurants or shops. Going to the bathroom was an adventure every time. Sometimes the toilets worked and sometimes they overflowed. The seats were made of the hulls of old B-17’s. Getting out of the parking lot was an utter nightmare. If you didn’t leave by halftime you may have gotten home by 8PM after a 1PM game. Oh the memories!
I was young and I didn’t care. Now I complain if the parking is $40 and the beers are $8. How times have changed in 15 short years!
It was November 1994 and the Patriots were 3-6. They were taking on the high-flying Minnesota Vikings with Warren Moon and his arsenal of weapons. Did I think the Pats were going to win that day? No not really. I was there to hang out with my friends and get loaded off my buddy Cam’s Death punch, which was a mixture of rum and anti-freeze.
The Pats were getting slapped upside the face and the halftime scoreboard read Minnesota 20 and New England 3. My friends and I were contemplating on leaving, but some cosmic force told us to stay or just get a few more Sam Adams. One in the same, right?
We stayed and then we witnessed one of the biggest comebacks in Patriots history. Drew Bledsoe’s passes seemed to have laser guidance systems on them. He didn’t miss in the second half. The crowd that remained knew something great was taking place right before their eyes. I was sobering up pretty quick. I was so excited, I actually forgot to drink!
The Patriots sent the game to overtime. As all Boston fans prior to 2001, we were all waiting for the Patriots to blow it. Drew had nothing of that. He threw a flare to Kevin Turner in the opposite corner of my end zone to win the game. I couldn’t believe it. Grown men hugged each other for seconds and even minutes! I remember running through the bowels of the stadium, screaming like an inmate at the insane asylum!
This was one of the defining moments of a team that turned the corner for greatness. Bledsoe and Parcells laid the foundation for Belichick and Tom Brady to build a dynasty. The Patriots went from doormats to cardiac kids on that warm November day and I was there. A witness to Patriots history.
Joe Gill is a resident blogger for Boston Sports Then and Now