When I travel, I usually focus on my love of two things :: opera and food. I pick cities based on which operas are performing, then hunt down the best food in the area. But Boston… Boston was different. Boston has baseball. Boston has Fenway. Which just happens to be an item on my Bucket List.
It may come as a surprise that a baseball game is on my Bucket List. But for those of you that know my family, there’s no shock. To my family, baseball is the blood of life. My brothers played baseball—or rather, believed in it almost as a religion—their whole lives, coached by my uncle, supported in the stands by my entire extended family. One of the few photographs of my late grandfather is of him coaching baseball; he, too, lived for the crack of the bat in the dirt field.
As a very nonathletic girl, this was difficult to understand when I was young. But soon my Nakagama genes kicked in and I succumbed to baseball. I figured out that if I was ever going to have a meaningful conversation with my dad or brothers, I’d better know how to talk batting averages and pitching styles. So I learned how to keep score and watch 8-hour double-headers without going crazy. My parents and I even went to a baseball game in Tokyo. Soon I understood the mecca that was Fenway Park and what the iconic stadium meant to baseball. And I knew I had to go there.
Fenway Park is the oldest Major League baseball stadium in the country, built in 1912. It fits in with the many other “oldest” places in Boston, like the country’s oldest park and cemetery. But it is more than just a ballpark, it has a culture all its own. Parts of the park have their own nicknames, like the Green Monster (the giant fence in left field), Pesky’s Pole (the awkward right field foul pole) and Williamsburg (the center field bullpen area). Plus my favorite, it’s home to the only scoreboard in the country still changed by hand.
The small stadium sits in the heart of Boston, its seats overlooking the city’s highrise buildings. And some would argue that the stadium is the heart of Boston. The energy at Fenway was electric. Everyone from elderly to infants were wearing head-to-toe Red Sox attire, pumped as ever to watch the game. The crowd was as energetic as if it was the World Series, except they were playing the Astros for the fourth day in a row.
As I watched the game in the 101-year old stadium, my thoughts drifted to where they had several times during my time in Boston :: to all the many people that came decades before me, doing exactly what I was doing now. I loved the thought of people 100 years ago, no doubt dressed to the nines in much different attire, cheering on the Red Sox here at Fenway. Even my grandpa, who died nearly 40 years ago, would recognize this field. I like to think he’d be proud of me for making it there.
The day at Fenway was easily the highlight of my trip to Boston. Maybe it was the history of the centennial park, or the energy of the crowd of strangers cheering together, or just the beautiful spring sunshine. But whatever it was, sipping beers and watching baseball at Fenway in Boston will be a high point of my whole year, if not more. I never thought I’d travel across the country for a baseball game, but then again, I am a Nakagama after all. :)