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Fenway Flashback

The American League Division Series begins today with the Red Sox facing the Angels at Fenway Park. I had the chance to get to Fenway this past Sunday and it has changed quite a bit over the years. They've opened up more space at the ballpark and cleaned things up quite a bit. The grandstand seats are still way too small for me though. I get indents in my knee caps because I'm too tall for the seats. Anyone over five feet five inches tall is too tall for those seats.

We sat one section over from our old season tickets. For 12 years our family had section 29, row four, seats 5,6 7 & 8. I also shared an interest with a friend in a pair of bleacher seats in section 40, row 13 seats 5 & 6. I haven't had season tickets since the mid nineties but I always manage to get to Fenway once or twice a year.

Back in the season ticket days, I was ALWAYS at the ballpark. I worked in the city and went to almost every weeknight game-sometimes in the grandstands, sometimes in the bleachers. A common denominator was beer. I got to know all the beer vendors in both sections. They'd let us season ticket holders cut the line and take six beers if we wanted them(the "limit" was and still is, two). All we had to do was tip them! It was worth a few extra bucks to not have to wait in line and make fewer trips.

At last Sunday's game, I ran into one of my favorite beer gals from back in the day. She was still slinging suds and she was just as cute as ever. She remembered me and even remembered what section my seats were in! I asked if she could still send me off with six beers and let me cut the line and, alas, she could not.

"The rules are still the same," she explained, "they just enforce them now!"

I stood chatting with her as she served more customers and I told her about Game 5 in 1986. I was at the game with my mom, brother and uncle (dad was traveling and missed that game). I was the designated beer runner since I could cut the line and get six beers. Nobody (including me) wanted to miss a minute of the game (of course we still wanted the beer) so I used my "connections" to make quick beer runs. I got to the very long line, made eye contact with "John," the beer guy and he waved me to the front where a box 'o beers (six of them) were being freshly poured.

A woman at the front of the line hollered "hey, how come he can cut?!"

John barked back at her, "He's a season ticket holder and he TIPS!!"

I thanked John, paid him and tipped him and turned to leave with my beers. Standing at the end of the line was Dick "The Monster" Radatz, a former Sox reliever from the mid 1960's who was one of the game's original "closers."

I went up to him, handed him a beer and said "You don't have to wait in line, Mohnstah."

He thanked me, took the beer and headed back to his seat, which ended up being across the aisle from mine. He signed my "K" poster and I ran to get beers for him for the rest of the game, he even bought a couple of rounds. The Monster could definitely put the beers away!

I ran into "John" and his wife in the mid 1990's at the Cask and Flagon (a bar across the street from Fenway) and I bought them a beer as thanks for hooking me up all those times!

The beer gal got a kick out of the story, she didn't even make me wait for the next one!

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