I'm shipping up to Boston.
May 10, 2010 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Fenway Park to see a ball game next week, and want to get the most out of the experience.

I'm a long-time Red Sox fan from Canada. Next week, I'll be in Boston to do some work and managed to get a ticket to a ball game. I want to soak up every little bit of Fenway and the Red Sox that I can while I'm there, and I have a few questions. I'm on my own, if it matters, and have been to many ball games, but all of them in Toronto.

1) Can I go watch batting practice? What's that like? Do I just show up a few hours before the game and they'll let me in?

2) Is the tour worth it? What does it involve?

3) At what time should I go to the ball park?

4) How safe/easy is it to walk to/from the ball park from Newbury Street (around Newbury at Gloucester)? It is an evening game.

5) Any food recommendations at the ballpark?

6) Any other tips?
posted by synecdoche to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
That walk is fine. The area will be saturated before and after the game with Sox fans, so you'll have to avoid the odd drunk, but Newbury St. is not a rough area except that you'll have to fend off sports drunks. It's about 15 minutes of walking.
posted by mkb at 6:32 PM on May 10, 2010


you MUST get a hot dog while you're there. it's part of the whole experience.

(a hotdog at fenway is like poutine at a hockey game. i'm guessing.)
posted by radiosilents at 6:46 PM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, you'll have fun!

Games usually "start" at 7:05 PM, by which they mean the actual first pitch isn't thrown til 7:25 or so. If you do go for batting practice (which I don't know anything about, sorry) there'll be a lot of downtime in between.

A Fenway Frank is a must. There are a zillion foodstands that will be easy to find and all mostly serve the same thing. If you want something special like fried dough or ice cream, you may have to walk a little farther, but hot dogs and beer and aplenty near all the sections.

Wednesday is supposed to be kind of rainy and chilly. You can't use an umbrella during the game, so bring something with a hood, or buy one of the (overpriced) plastic ponchos at the park. If the seat you're in is open and not under an overhang, bringing a plastic trash bag with you makes a good seat cover. Dress warmly so you don't end up paying $60 for a sweatshirt when you're freezing.

Learn the words to "Sweet Caroline."
posted by olinerd at 6:53 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


They open up the ball park something like two hours before the game, and you can watch batting practice during that time.

Yes, that walk is no problem.

When I took the tour (it was earlier in the day, and we had to buy tickets), we got to sit in the dugout, walk around the edge of the field ("don't step on the grass!") and touch the Wall, and see the broadcast booths and a few offices. The whole time, the guide talked about many of the high points of Red Sox history (Carlton Fisk's homer, etc.) and threw out trivia questions. We asked if the tour included the clubhouse, and the reply was "Nope, it's like Fort Knox over there."

Eat a Fenway Frank. If you like hot dogs of course. I hope the peanut vendors are still throwing the peanuts as far as they can (they were reprimanded a few years ago when some whiner got grazed with a bag). Other than that, it's pretty standard ballpark fare.

Learn the words to "Sweet Caroline", so you can sing it with everyone else during the 7th(?) inning.

Admire Pesky's Pole, the right-field foul pole, named for Johnny Pesky (that may be part of the tour trivia). When it was named for Pesky, it was NOT complimentary; the few home runs during his career were so pathetic that they just barely wrapped around the foul pole. He's still around, I think, at least 90 years old, suiting up for every game.

Notice the Morse Code on the Wall's scoreboard; it spells out the initials of Jean and Tom Yawkey, the legendary former owners of the team.
posted by Melismata at 6:53 PM on May 10, 2010


A Fenway Frank is a must, but so is a sausage sandwich from The Sausage Guy outside of the park. I also buy a bag of peanuts from the guy near the entrance. I try to avoid most of the concessions as I am cheap/poor,so YMMV.
The Cask n' Flagon is now respectable- it used to be a real green tooth bar for Sawx fans-for a pre or post game beer or two.
posted by pentagoet at 6:54 PM on May 10, 2010


1) You can catch some batting practice, usually visiting teams practice. Gates open 2 hours before game time. So if its a 7 PM start gates open at 5 PM.

2) The tour is worth it on a non-game day because you get to walk on the field and sit in the dugout. On game day you still get to see the Red Sox Hall of Fame, go to the monster seats and get to know the history of the park.

3) For an evening game get there around 3:30 to walk around the park and find your gate and shop at the team store or visit some of the vendors set up around the park.

4) Its pretty safe to walk from Fenway to Newbury Street if you walk through Kenmore Square. Its a nice neighborhood with plenty of people still walking around after the game.

5) After working concessions at Fenway for 2 years I would strongly caution anybody from eating food there. Not only because its expensive but because its not always kept in the best condition. However if you choose to eat there don't buy into the "Fenway Frank" deal. A Fenway Frank is $4 and the same as a normal hot dog, a foot long is double the size of a Fenway Frank and only $5. If your ordering beer don't worry about getting a Bud or a Bud light, chances are they are the same beer. Overall the food is crazy expensive ($3.75 for a water and $4 for a soda) You can get away with bringing in your own water. If you are looking for sea food there is a Legal Seafood stand set up behind home plate that does lobster sandwiches and New England Clam Chowder. If you want other alcholoic drinks other than beer you can head up to the Right Field Roof seats and they have, I think, a full bar or at least specialty beers (don't ask me how in Boston, the home of Sam Adams, Sam Adams is considered a specialty beer) and some mixed drinks. The best drink there is the fresh, handmade lemonade they make right in front of you. Once it warms up they have stands set up on Yawkey Way.

6) On Yawkey Way, which is where the Red Sox official team store is, after the gates open Luis Tiant is out signing autographs for free at his food stand called "El Tiante". Note: The Hot Tamales music gets annoying after awhile. Also on Yawkey Way they do the live taping of the Nesn pregame show with Dennis Eckersley and Jerry Remy. The seats in Fenway are notoriously known for being very small and the isles are narrow so remember this if you do shopping or bring a backpack in, its a tight squeeze.
posted by lilkeith07 at 6:54 PM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the walk: the walk is fine, though I'd walk Commonwealth Ave (one block over from Newbury) instead of Newbury. And if it is rainy and cold, just hop on the green line at Copley (you can see it looking south from Newbury and Dartmouth) and take it to Kenmore station, at which point you can just follow the crowds to the park.
posted by olinerd at 6:55 PM on May 10, 2010


Others might disagree with me, but I think for the whole Fenway experience, you simply HAVE to ride the green line (get on at Boylston, right on Mass ave in front of the Best Buy) and ride it to Kenmore with all of the Boston Sox fans. I say this because it really is part of the experience, riding the packed Green Line Trolley with all of the fans in their jerseys.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:18 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Listen to the accents. That's my favorite part. That and saying "YOOOOOUUUUK."
posted by prettaygood at 7:24 PM on May 10, 2010


Don't ride the Green Line if you can walk. The poor suckers going home from work will thank you.
posted by mkb at 7:29 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your seat will be very narrow with very little room legroom. You will be in very close contact with your neighbors for the duration of the game.

It may not face home plate. It may be an 'obstructed view' seat behind a support girder.

Do not stand to block the view of people behind you, but try to be as polite as possible when letting people pass you to access their seats.

I always liked to walk across the MIT bridge to Newbury Street and Fenway. Taking the Green Line is very overrated, especially after the game when the fans are drunk and perhaps disappointed.

It is always acceptable to declare that the Yankees suck, even when not playing the Yankees.
posted by Seppaku at 8:22 PM on May 10, 2010


I'm actually a Yankees fan, but I've lived in Boston for a while now and gone to five or six games at Fenway.

3) At what time should I go to the ball park?

You can get there a few minutes before the time printed on the ticket and you'll probably be fine. Fenway Park is pretty small and easily navigable; I've gone from standing on Lansdowne to sitting in my seat in the space of fifteen minutes. If you want to get there early to browse the concessions, etc., then that's cool, but you certainly don't need to get there very early.

4) How safe/easy is it to walk to/from the ball park from Newbury Street (around Newbury at Gloucester)? It is an evening game.

I would rate it very safe and easy! That area of Boston (Kenmore and Back Bay) is one of my favorite walking spots, so I've made that trek dozens of times and have never felt unsafe.

5) Any food recommendations at the ballpark?

Honestly, I'd recommend an early dinner before the game and then splurging on ice cream or something at the park.

6) Any other tips?

Take mkb's advice and walk if you can. Hell, I try to make a point of avoiding the Green Line under normal non-Sox game circumstances...


Also:
I hope the peanut vendors are still throwing the peanuts as far as they can (they were reprimanded a few years ago when some whiner got grazed with a bag).

I was at Fenway last night and a dude totally got hit with a bag of peanuts. I guess that tradition still lives. :-)

posted by danb at 8:25 PM on May 10, 2010


No beverages go through security, even water. In the hour before the game just walk around different sections; it's crushed with people, noise, smells, excitement. Fenway is just fantastic.
posted by missmary6 at 8:25 PM on May 10, 2010


the isles are narrow so remember this if you do shopping or bring a backpack in, its a tight squeeze.

I would advise against bringing in any kind of bag, unless you want to cradle it in your lap the whole time, or unless you don't mind if it gets covered in peanut shells, beer, spilled nachos, etc. while it is crammed under your seat.

The seats are really tiny. And the park will be packed.
posted by Seppaku at 8:30 PM on May 10, 2010


The tour is DEFINITELY worth it, especially if you rarely get to Fenway. Even on a game day (you don't get to go in the dugouts or on the field) you still get to see the park from every vantage point, and learn a great deal about its history. A couple of years ago, I went to the tour fairly early in the day, and then just hung around the Fenway area for a few hours, watching "game day" coalesce around me. It was kind of a magical experience, and I heartily recommend it.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:55 PM on May 10, 2010


The Fenway tour isn't as complete on game day, but still well worth it.

For all the talk about small seats, I've never noticed. Probably because every trip to fenway is a 'greatest day EVER' moment for me.

Admire Pesky's Pole, the right-field foul pole, named for Johnny Pesky (that may be part of the tour trivia). When it was named for Pesky, it was NOT complimentary; the few home runs during his career were so pathetic that they just barely wrapped around the foul pole.

It makes a nice story, though not really a true one.
posted by justgary at 9:28 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I took the tour on a NON game day last summer (July 20th, away at Texas), and we didn't get to go down to the field or the dugout. It was still great though. We got to go sit on the Green Monster and look down over the edge.
posted by intermod at 9:49 PM on May 10, 2010


Regarding the Green Line or not: as a Midwest transplant, I find Bostonians at their most genial and entertaining when they're crammed like sardines into a Green Line train en route to Fenway. Not for the claustrophobic among us, but definitely an experience.
posted by olinerd at 3:25 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely walk, for several reasons. 1, Newbury and Gloucester is really quite close, certainly less than a mile. 2, and more importantly, part of the reason that Fenway is so cool, and so much unlike newer ballparks (even most of the exemplary ones) is that it is in the middle of a a completely normal, vital part of the city. And it wasn't just plopped down there. It's been like that for nearly a hundred years. The best way to get a sense of that is to walk there.

You'll get some sense walking from the train, too. But when you walk from Newbury to the park in 15 minutes it becomes clear how precious that proximity is, and (imho) that's part of why the Sox are inextricable from the psyche of the Bostonian.

If you do take the train remember not to get off at the Fenway stop. That stop is at the far end of the Fenway, which is a parkway that runs through the Fens, which is a park that Fenway Park is named for. Kenmore is closer. But really - just walk.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2010


Regarding the Green Line or not: as a Midwest transplant, I find Bostonians at their most genial and entertaining when they're crammed like sardines into a Green Line train en route to Fenway.

If you still believe the myth that all northerners are introverts, take a ride on the Green Line right after a Sox game.
posted by schmod at 11:51 AM on May 11, 2010


Games usually "start" at 7:05 PM, by which they mean the actual first pitch isn't thrown til 7:25 or so.

I've never been to a night game at Fenway, but this can't be right. Unless there's a special occasion (which would have to be rare to be special), first pitch goes on as scheduled.
posted by dorisfromregopark at 7:34 PM on May 11, 2010


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