Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Night I Slept at Fenway Park

This weekend I'm signing books at a wonderful event called New Stars for Young Stars, a fundraiser for The Jimmy Fund. It's a chance for kids to meet some of the rising stars in the Red Sox farm system, as well as their new manager Bobby Valentine, starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and one of my all-time favorite baseball players, Pedro Martinez. I am really excited to meet Pedro. I have so many great memories of watching him pitch, but this one might be my favorite:

It was the night before Game 3 of the 1999 American League Championship Series. The Sox had lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium, but now they were heading back to Fenway for game 3. Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, the greatest pitcher in baseball coming off his greatest season, was set to face the greatest Red Sox pitcher of my childhood, Roger Clemens, now pitching for the Yankees. This was the first time the Red Sox and Yankees had ever faced each other in the postseason, and at the time this game really had that "once in a lifetime" feeling.

It was around midnight. I was at a party in Somerville, talking with some friends about the game, talking about how awesome it would be to be at Fenway for "Pedro vs. Roger". The game was sold out of course, but I had heard the Red Sox were going to make some tickets available at the Fenway ticket office on the morning of the game. I mentioned this, and someone suggested we head into Fenway right then to wait in line. A bunch of people liked the idea, but by the time the cab arrived, it was just me and one other guy. So he and I got in the cab and headed for Boston.

We arrived at Fenway around 12:30 am. There were already 117 people there. I know it was 117, because soon after I arrived, a man came up to me with a sharpie and wrote the number 118 on my hand. He was sort of the Mayor of this little world on Yawkey Way. This was his way of keeping order, and making sure the people who had waited here all night got first dibs on the tickets.

The Mayor of Yawkey Way, October 15, 1999
So we stayed there all night. By morning, there were probably 250 crazy Red Sox fans hanging out, taking turns heading into Kenmore Square for coffee and hot chocolate. It was a blast. Some people really came prepared, with beach chairs, sleeping bags, and food. Not me. At least I was wearing a jacket and a winter hat.

Me, with my pals 117 and 116, 115, etc.
Morning finally came.
Me in line. I look tired.

Around 9:00 am, the line started moving. I made it all the way to the front...

And I got two tickets! I called my dad, and he said he'd come in and join me. Then I went and took at nap at a friend's place.
My father at Fenway, before game 3 of the 1999 ALCS

The players warming up

The pregame ceremony

Pedro pitching!

Our view was a bit obstructed, but we had pretty awesome seats. And what a game! The Red Sox won 13-1. Pedro pitched seven innings and only gave up 2 hits while striking out 12. Clemens seemed rattled by the "Roger, Roger" chants, and was knocked out of the game with nobody out in the 3rd. I was exhausted, but it was a very exciting, exhilarating day. This was the only game they won in the series. I'm glad I was there to see it.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Matt. This story brings back a lot of great memories.

  2. You were there for part of it, right Matt? And I went to your old apartment on Queensboro St. and took a nap afterward.

  3. Yep. And I got seats in the good old Section 4 grandstands. Couldn't see too much, but it was a great game. ROOGGEERRRR! ROOGGEERRRR!