One of my earliest memories of Fenway is sitting with a group of kids, so it was probably a cub scout outing. I remember a time, and this might have been it, when we went with our scout leader and he went to the gate and talked to the guy, and maybe he slipped the guy some money, I don’t know, but I remember the guy opened the gate and let us in. I can see how he did it, for that scout leader had that kind of charm. I remember thinking at the time that it would be cool to be part of the adult world that knew how to do stuff like that. Unfortunately, though I have been an adult for some time, I have never acquired those particular talents.

Anyway, what I remember is that we were chanting “We want Ted,” which shows how little we (or at least I) understood about the game. And then when Ted was announced, we went crazy cheering, thinking that somehow our entreaties had been heard. This story makes little sense to me, for if I understood that little about baseball, then what the hell was I doing at the park? I don’t recall being particularly bored, but it would certainly be boring to sit there with no clue about what was going on. I am at a loss to explain it.

On another occasion, I remember being with my brother Bruce. For some reason we were sitting way out in right field. This makes no sense because usually we went to the games with tickets from my father’s business, and that’s not where the seats were. Anyway, Roger Maris was playing right field, and the fielder plays very close to the fans at Fenway. For some reason, this guy with a very loud voice behind us was razzing Maris. I remember that he was at the time playing for Kansas City (then called the Kansas City Athletics). I looked this up, and he played for them during the 1958 and 1959 seasons, so that is when this had to be. What I remember is that Maris got pissed off at this guy and turned and gave him the finger, and since I was directly in the line of fire, I got the finger from him too. I think I found it a bit jarring, because baseball players are not supposed to do that kind of stuff, so it was pretty disillusioning for a 12 year old, which is probably why I remember it.

I grew up in the Boston area, and was a fan of the Sox from the get-go. How this later saved my life will be explained in another post. These were not great years for the Sox. In 1946, the year I was born, they lost the seventh game of the World Series, a feat they would repeat in 1967, the year I left Boston pretty much for good. In between, they were contenders only in 1949, as described in David Halberstam’s book, Summer of ‘49, which is really good. That year, as a three-year old, I was not very cognizant of their travails. My prime baseball years, like 8 to 15, the years 1954-1961, they sucked, though that is not a word we had then, but if we had it, it would have been fair to say they sucked. They did have Ted, however, and I may have to devote a post to him, because he was always there during those years, and he was pretty incredible. There is a good book about him, too, by Leigh Montville, called Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero. So I will make a note for another post about Ted.

Anyway, my father worked for this small bank in Watertown, and they had season tickets to the Sox, and since Sox tickets were not in great demand in those days, we got to go a lot. In fact, these were just about the best seats in the park, which I think I realized at the time. They have stuck a lot of seats onto the old Fenway in recent years, so it is a little hard to describe where these seats were. There was no upper deck behind home plate, just a roof that jutted out quite a bit. And hanging down from the roof were two rows of seats that were called the Skyview Seats. The announcers called the game from up there, and the sportswriters were there, and us when we got to go. Those were very cool seats.

All this came to an end in the early sixties when my father’s bank got rid of their Sox tickets and got Bruins tickets instead. They thought this was the smart move, as the early sixties were great years for the Bruins. But the Impossible Dream year of 1967, when the Sox again lost the seventh game of the World Series, revived interest, and a lot of people wanted to go the ball game. So after I left Boston, I came back to visit my parents periodically, but I had to buy tickets like any other regular person, and on occasion I did, so we’ll have another post about that.