Boston Red Sox Memories: Remembering my first trip to Fenway Park

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 5: An aerial view of Fenway Park at sunset during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins on September 5, 2019 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 5: An aerial view of Fenway Park at sunset during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins on September 5, 2019 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Today was supposed to be the 2020 home opener for the Boston Red Sox. In honor of that occasion, I thought I’d revisit my very first trip to Fenway Park.

We all know about what’s going on around the world and how damn near everyone has been affected in some way, shape or form. With the coronavirus still running rampant throughout the country, we still don’t have baseball. Today was supposed to be the home opener for the Red Sox and the legendary Fenway Park.

Considering there still isn’t much of an idea for when baseball will return beyond the whispers of a 4th of July Opening Day, I thought I’d do something fun today. I fired up the flux capacitor, got the speedometer to 88 mph, and went back to the summer of 2000. It was a great time to be a Red Sox fan, we were coming off the ALCS, albeit a loss, but still a great season. Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez were doing the damn thing on a nightly basis.

Though they wouldn’t make the postseason, the then 44-41 Red Sox were nipping on the heels of the division-leading 45-39 New York Yankees. As is always with Boston, there was hope in the air that another October berth could be upon us.

Sadly the Sox would fall short of New York by 2.5 games and miss the Wild Card pretty comfortably. The positive was the lack of distance between them and the Evil Empire though, and we would see that payoff a few years down the road.

Now that we’ve recapped some of the baseball year that was 2000, let’s get back to the matter at hand, my first trip to Fenway Park! I’ll give a little info on myself, I have lived in Upstate New York my entire life, which for a member of Red Sox Nation, is the definition of living behind enemy lines. There was never a doubt that I’d be a member of the Fenway Faithful as generations of my family proudly were before me.

It was the first game at Fenway Park after that year’s All-Star Game, and we packed two cars to get us all to Boston. The Sox were matched up against the Mets, who would make it to the World Series that fall. Our group was split between Red Sox and Mets fans so it was a pretty lively game for our traveling troupe.

Before we attended the game we went on a tour of Fenway Park and that may be one of the best baseball memories of my life. There I was in my brand new #5 jersey-wearing it as proud as a 12-year-old possibly could. Nomaaah was my guy and the reason I wanted to be a shortstop as a kid, the dude was like superman to me.

Just seeing the park before the madness kicks off is a thing of beauty. We saw the red seat, what was at the time the “500 Club,” and then we made our way to the main event, the Green Monster. Seeing it on tv and even from other vantage points of the ballpark is one thing, but standing next to it is life-changing.

There was even a point of the tour where my father and I thought we were being sneaky and tried to put our handprints on the Monster. We were quickly busted by the tour guide and almost kicked out of the park. To this day, hidden somewhere in my office is a small polaroid container of dirt from the warning track.

As great as it was to see Fenway and learn its rich history, it doesn’t come alive until the first pitch, so let’s get to it.

As I mentioned above, 1999 and 2000 were amazing years for Nomar and Pedro, and I got to see them put in work that night. It was July 13, 2000, with a 7:05 start and the weather was beautiful. The game saw a pitching duel between Pedro and Mets starter Bobby Jones as neither was willing to budge to the other side. Let’s just look at the lines for the starting pitchers:

Pedro Martinez: 7IP/5H/2R/1BB/10K

Bobby Jones: 6IP/6H/2R/4BB/8K

Pretty stellar performances from both sides here and the game would be the definition of a defensive outing. The Mets got on the board early by scoring in the bottom of the second and it felt like they were in control for much of the game. Boston would finally answer back in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a two-run bomb by DH Morgan Burkhart.

As we got late into the game, New York was able to get back in the lead thanks to runs in the seventh and eighth innings off of Pedro and Red Sox reliever Rich Garces. Things were feeling pretty bleak in Beantown as it looked like the Mets were going to walk away with another win. Then Red Sox Nation got that Fenway magic going in the bottom of the ninth.

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Scott Hatteberg drew a walk and we’d see Manny Alexander pinch-run for the non-speedster. Jose Offerman would get on base thanks to an error by Melvin Mora, giving the Red Sox two on with just one out. Jeff Frye would come to the plate trying to make something happen by putting the ball in the air, luckily Alexander made his way to third.

Now we’re here, runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and veteran Red Sox infielder Brian Daubach was at the plate. With the crack of the bat, Daubach would send a ball to right field and before Derek Bell could make a significant play, the Sox had won the game. Boston had a lot of big names in the lineup but when they needed someone the most, it was Daubach that made it happen.

I’ll always cherish that memory of Daubach rounding the bases and celebrating on second base. We rushed back to our room at the Howard Johnson to catch the replays on NESN as the high was still at its peak. I couldn’t have asked for a better first trip to the ballpark that has become like a second home for me.

Next. 2020 will be the year of Eduard Bazardo. dark

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stepped foot into Fenway Park since that day. Whether it be for games or concerts, it feels like a home away from home. I’ve seen the Red Sox have great victories and crushing defeats from all over the park. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ll visit that beautiful place nothing will ever replace that first time I saw the Green Monster, ate a Fenway Frank, and saw the Red Sox with the lights on bright.