During the 86-year-old "Curse of the Bambino," Fenway Park was populated by die hard Red Sox fans who cared only about the product on the field. These fans did not need anything more than a Red Sox win to be entertained.
It was an era when most of the fans were men, men who drank beer, men who cursed, men who worked hard and wanted nothing more than a World Series.
That all changed in 1998. The Red Sox had Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez. They advanced to the ALCS. Two years later they added Manny Ramirez. Once they added David Ortiz and Curt Schilling, they became a championship contender.
Fenway Park became the place to be during the sweltering summers in Boston.
If the Sox were on national television, viewers could expect to see Ben Affleck or Matt Damon or James Taylor or any other celebrity who wanted front row tickets. Fenway—the stadium where baseball could be celebrated as the national pastime—was turning into the L.A. Forum of the 1980s.
After winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007, Fenway became less about the baseball and more about the atmosphere. Red wine at a Red Sox game? Two fancy restaurants at Fenway? I'll pass. Give me a cold beer and a hot dog so I can enjoy the game.
The Fenway Park crowd of today is summarized in two words: Pink Hats.
The pink hats are the generation of Red Sox fans—including women—who come to the game to be seen in their Josh Beckett t-shirt and designer jeans. They show up in the top of the third inning and make a run for the exits in the seventh-inning stretch. They view Red Sox games as a "night out." Most couldn't explain a six-four-three double play.
Sadly, this new generation of Red Sox fans are driving up ticket prices and keeping the real Red Sox fans on the outside looking in. However, I have a solution for the fans who can't afford $50 bleacher seats but still want to enjoy a real Fenway/Red Sox experience.
Located on Boylston Street, running parallel to the first base line side of Fenway, The Baseball Tavern has been a ballpark institution since 1963. The Tavern offers cheap beer ($4 for domestic bottles), good food (try the clams), and a true baseball atmosphere.
The Tavern is the type of place where your average bartender knows that Jonathan Papelbon will need tonight off after pitching three-of-the-last-four days. It's the kind of place where you don't need to remortgage your house to have a handful of cold ones and an evening of fun.
It's the type of place your father and grandfather went to before, during, and after Sox games when they were young.
The Tavern is also the place where Derek Lowe, Kevin Millar, Todd Walker, and Gabe Kapler celebrated the clinching of a Wild Card berth at the end of the 2003 season. The guys stormed the bar, in full uniform, and partied with the crowd for almost an hour.
Best of all, the Tavern is huge—it has four floors including a roof deck that overlooks Fenway—and it is a great place to watch the game. Each floor has multiple 50" high definition TV's, all projecting the best in Boston sports.
With the Bruins and Celtics involved in the playoffs, there is no better place to watch all your favorite teams at once.
So, for those of you disenchanted with the current state of Fenway Park and it's yuppie, pink hat wearing crowd, I implore you to head on over to The Baseball Tavern.
You won't be disappointed.