OpenStack community member Eric Schabell leads a double life. By day he’s the global technology evangelist director for Red Hat, but by night he’s an impassioned Boston Red Sox fan who knows everything about the team and their historic field, Fenway Park, that you could want to know. Schabell shares some must-know secrets with Superuser ahead of the OpenStack Summit Boston party in Fenway Park.
For diehard baseball fans, a trip to Fenway Park is out of this world. Every single time I step inside and see the field unfold before me, it’s special. Even baseball newcomers can feel Fenway’s magic; the field is one of the oldest in the sport’s history and has a community of ruthlessly loyal, passionate fans around the world, including yours truly, a Netherlands-based Red Sox fan.
As an OpenStack Summit Boston attendee, you have the unique opportunity to join us for the StackCity Community Party in Fenway Park. From years of attending games, taking tours, guiding VIP events and just plain being a Red Sox fan, these are my top five things StackCity Party goers must know about Fenway.
They’re not the first things you might think of when you go to a Red Sox game, but they encompass some of my most memorable experiences accumulated over the years.
1. On the Green Monster
There has been a lot written and spoken about the large wall located in left field nicknamed the Green Monster. There are some neat things to consider on your trip to Fenway with regards to the Green Monster, starting with the color. Did you know that this green used to paint all of Fenway Park is trademarked? Fans are so passionate about the distinct green that when Benjamin Moore, the official paint of the Boston Red Sox, offered a limited edition, publicly-available version, it was a grand slam with fans. A website dedicated to locating the paint and the ads that ran in Boston can be viewed at monstereverywhere.com.
It is a must for any visit to get up on to the Green Monster, but this can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for a seat during the game. A more cost-effective way to enjoy that view is to become a member of Red Sox Nation, the fan club, for $14.95 a year. This includes the privilege of entering games two and half hours before they start through outfield gate C. You can view batting practice from the Green Monster and maybe catch a few balls to take home. Remember, it’s customary as an adult to give a caught ball to some child near you. Try it; the smile you receive from that child will be one of the highlights of your Fenway trip.
Another interesting fact about the Green Monster: if you look down its face (be careful, it’s a 37-foot drop to the field!), you will see dents caused by players, both past and present, hitting balls off the wall.
You might wonder how many of these dents there are in the Green Monster. Believe it or not, this is a pretty hot topic of conversation among Fenway fans and the local newspaper The Boston Globe actually hand-counted them. If you’re going to go count them yourself, there’s a couple things you need to know:
First, they are officially known as “dimples” by the groundskeepers who maintain the field—not dents–as they don’t like the New York Yankee’s player Buckey Dent who hit a homer into the netting in left field to beat the Red Sox in a 1978 playoff game.
Second, even the Globe count had to use some estimation due to balls having hit the same spot multiple times. The Green Monster has 116 two-foot wide panels; the Globe counted 33 and estimated the rest. Guesses have ranged all over the spectrum, but the Globe came up with 211,004 in August of 2014. What would that number be now?
2. Seats in Fenway
There are some strange seats you can purchase through a game-day ticket, ones that won’t even let you see the field of play due to iron girders in your line of sight. Fenway Park is a very old baseball park. Built in 1912, refurbished in 1934 it has reached monument status. It seats 37,731 in the evening when they remove the black tarp on the center field seating and 37,281 during day games. When you are sitting in Fenway Park, you can almost feel the ghosts of past years when men would attend games wearing dark fedoras and smoking big cigars. The seats have remained the same wooden construction throughout the years.
There is one special seat in the right field bleachers that is red. A single red seat in section 42, row 37, seat 21 to be precise. This seat represents where the longest home run ever hit at Fenway Park landed. It is over 535 feet from home plate and was hit on June 10th, 1946 by Ted Williams.
You can look it up on the front page of the Boston Globe featuring a picture of Joseph Boucher holding the straw hat that Ted Williams’s blast punctured while he sat in the famous seat.
If you are to find a ticket to the game, head down to Bleacher Bar, a pub located under the centerfield bleachers. You can enjoy the game from their garage door window that is located about 30 feet from the player in center field.
Finally, no matter where you sit, take the time later in a game to walk around Fenway and view the game from other locations. Often seats will start to empty out down lower and after the sixth or seventh inning you can walk down to a closer seat to occupy vacated seating. This is a nice feature of Fenway Park, allowing fans to truly enjoy their experiences at Fenway Park in so many ways.
3. Bullpen views
The pitchers not starting the game hang out and warm up in the area against the right field bleachers called the “bullpens”. You can purchase front row seating there in section 41 to sit right on the Red Sox bullpen. This puts you within a few feet of the professional pitchers that throw a baseball in the 90+ MPH range. Something to see up close!
This gives you view of pitchers warming up, stretching and maybe even have a bit of a chat with them before the game starts. It is not allowed to ask for autographs during the game, as they are working, but before and after they are often willing to talk.
If you have a child with you, the chances of being given a piece of bubble-gum from the player stash or a ball after the bullpen catchers warm up a pitcher going into the game are good. Be respectful and you will have a signature on your cap before you know it.
4. Getting a piece of the field
This is probably my favorite tip, as everyone wants a piece of the field from Fenway. If you reach
over the wall and try to take some gravel from the field, you will at the very least be reprimanded and at the worst ejected from Fenway for the day.
Instead of going through all that trouble, take a stroll down Yawkey Way and look close at the gravel around the trees growing there. It is the same gravel used by the groundskeepers who maintain the field inside!
Be nice though and just take a little, there is no reason to be greedy. Be careful not to take any dog ‘presents’ or cigarette butts with you.
5. Knock on the manager’s office
Be sure to take a walk around Fenway Park before and after the game. The streets are filled with activity and are almost as historical as the park itself. Lansdowne Street puts you under the Green Monster, Van Ness Street which is closed off to provide player parking, and Yawkee Way which includes too much to name but also ESPN / NESN live pre- and post-game broadcasting booths.
If you are walking down Van Ness Street toward Jersey Street, notice there are opaque windows protected by diamond-patterned metal grates along Fenway Park. These lead to all manner of storage, batting cages and other nooks inside Fenway Park. There are two very special windows in that row. If you can find them and knock on them politely, you could come face-to-face with the Red Sox Manager John Farrell. These are part of his office and who knows, maybe you can suggest some improvements as he fills out the lineup for the game?
Hope you enjoy your visit to Fenway with a special appreciation of this historic park!
Send your thoughts to author Eric D. Schabell via twitter @erics_redsox.
- Five reasons why Fenway Park will knock your socks off - May 6, 2017