It’s “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” It’s nestled amongst action packed sports bars, coffee shops (including multiple Dunkin Donuts) and dive bar food. It’s close to the city and can be reached by a short subway or Uber ride. It’s atmosphere is absolutely amazing even on a slow game and feels legendary every time you enter the gates or walk down Yawkey Way. It’s Fenway Park. Home of the Green Monster and the Boston Red Sox. It is also now the site of where the Houston Astros clinched their first ALCS birth against the Red Sox in an epic game 4 ALDS.
…and I was there to witness it all.
I have been to Fenway multiple times before and always entered in my Red Sox gear and as a fan. Before the Astros moved into the American League, the Red Sox were always my AL team. Stemming back from the days when hometown Spring, TX native, Josh Beckett put on the Sox uni for the first time, I began to pay close attention to the team, the fans, the ballpark and the culture in a avidly engrossed way.
Honestly, I fell in love.
So stepping into Fenway as a visitor for the first time was a very unique and different experience that I am truly grateful for and will never forget. My beloved Houston Astros will always be my team first and foremost above all others. They have special meaning to me as I have dedicated much of my life to watching them with my dad, friends, family and even by myself. You see, in college once they built the then Enron Field, I never wanted to sit in Houston traffic so I would buy a cheap ticket in the upper deck and study while enjoying the atmosphere of the ballpark and falling even more in love with the game of baseball.
Fenway is much different than the corporate feel of Minute Maid Park. The people there truly tend to be diehard fans that could honestly be put up against the most dedicated of all sports fans. Entering as a visitor goes one of 2 ways. They are either kind with a little bit of razzing in between innings but genuinely hoping you enjoy your experience and they LOVE sharing their baseball history and memories with you. ORRRR they are the stereotypical Boston type throwing the middle finger (sometimes you get a double finger) and using some of their most affectionate words of “fauk you” to welcome you to their ballpark. Either way, being a seasoned sports fan like myself, who at this time has seen 24 of the active baseball stadiums, I absolutely LOVED it! I was there not only to see my team clinch, but to get the overall visitor feeling at MLB’s oldest ballpark. There is definitely a reason why it is called the Most beloved ballpark and NOT the friendliest ballpark haha!
After the Houston Astros took the first 2 games in the series, many Red Sox fans prior to Game 3 kept telling me to just end it for them. “Go ahead and end the misery” they would say in their dramatic Boston flair. There wasn’t a ton of interest in the team even when we were at the ballpark (accept for the ones that love to throw the f-bomb at you ….so be careful of bringing kids if you aren’t keen on foul language!). Upon arriving late into the city, many asked about the aftermath of hurricane Harvey and congratulated us on our exciting and young baseball team. This all changed after the Astros failed to sweep the Sox in 3 and a game 4 became necessary. Suddenly the Red Sox faithful became extremely invested as they could see a glimmer of hope for the 2017 season.
::Insert nerves and anxiety here. Along with sweaty palms and a fast heart beat.::
Entering game 4, I was an absolute bundle of nerves. There were too many factors coming into play with a best of 5 series. I really appreciated seeing the Red Sox faithful fans get so excited and rally around their team for game 3, but it was time to get back to Houston business and let the nostalgia affect where off. Nobody wants a game 5 in a best of 5. Even though it would be at home, it messes up your pitching rotation going into the next round of playoffs and it is added stress that nobody cares for. I wanted to see my team clinch in Fenway Park not just because the baseball greats have played there, or because I journeyed all the way there for more than clam chowder but because October 9th is a sentimental day for me. Not to get all mushy and such but my grandmother would have been 100 years old on that day and she is the sole reason why I’ve always carried the dream of being a writer with me. As a kid I used to make “books” and sell them on the porch. I would post signs around the neighborhood and also offered them free with purchase of lemonade or tea (I am sure if I was born now my mom would NOT be okay with me sitting on the front porch selling randomness to strangers BUT those were different times and thank goodness for that). She told me I had talent and that I would be a writer one day. Insert modern culture and the ability to make a living blogging, vlogging and hosting here I am today. Watching my team clinch after 9 innings of stress, gray hairs, high blood pressure and my bladder wanting to explode was a surreal experience that I will hang on to forever. We did it. Life felt full circle for a moment. Life felt whole for a second. I knew that the pursuit of my dreams lead me to this moment inside Fenway. I felt for the Red Sox fans quickly exiting into the pouring rain but honestly….I didn’t care. The Astros won and it made my journey pretty epically amazing.
My anxiety hasn’t picked up yet now that I know we will have home field advantage for at least one more round but I know its coming and I am ready. My anxiety means its October. My anxiety means I have a team in the race. My anxiety means the Houston Astros are in the ALCS. Bring on the gray hairs and I will see you all in the next round!
Astros Faithful, Fenway Grateful