Saturday, April 3, 2010

Guest Blog: Author Christopher Klein: Opening Day at Fenway, Boston, MA

 We are delighted to be joined by Christopher Klein, author of The Die-Hard Sports Fan's Guide to Boston for Opening Day.  So get your glove, take those Fenway Franks out of the freezer and head down to the park.

Ah, Opening Day. Even if Old Man Winter gave us a rare break this year compared to places due south, the return of the Red Sox to Fenway Park is a sure sign that spring has finally sprung in Boston. Not only are World Series dreams renewed on Opening Day, but after a long hibernation, so are the senses. At first sight, Fenway’s Technicolor explosion of green almost blinds eyes dulled by wintertime.

This year, the electricity of Opening Day promises to be amped up a little more than usual as the World Champion New York Yankees are the opponent. On the down side though, Opening “Day” is really Opening “Night” as the first pitch will be thrown after 8 PM on Easter Sunday. That means no sunshine, no playing hooky, and the possibility that your young Red Sox fans will pass out by the fourth inning.

There are few fatherly experiences that compare with taking your kids to Fenway Park for their first ballgame, whether its Opening Day or any other date on the schedule. You’ll never forget the first time you hold your slugger’s hand and walk up the ramp from the bowels of the stadium and catch a glimpse of the verdant field and its mighty wall.

Even though that experience may be “priceless,” MasterCard will still expect you to pay the hefty price for Red Sox tickets when the statement arrives in the mail. So, with that in mind, here are some tips from The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston for getting your money’s worth and having a great day with the kids at Fenway Park:

Tickets: Children under the age of two do not require a ticket, but you must buy a full-price ticket for children two and older.

Best place to sit:
Bleacher tickets are the cheapest, but your kids may be exposed to hot summertime sun during day games or salty language during night games. The best spot for families is in left field. Sections 32 and 33 of the Grandstand have great views and covered seats and they are in a no-alcohol family area.

Snagging a foul ball:
Your best bet to come home with a baseball is to watch batting practice. (Gates open two hours before first pitch.) Zack Hample has hauled more than 3,800 major league baseballs, and he shared some advice in The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston: “Bring a glove. Head to the left-field foul line during batting practice. Get as close to home plate as you can; you may be able to scoop up grounders if you lean over the wall. Another option is to stay close to the foul pole to get balls tossed to you by the players. The bleacher seats to the right of the batter’s eye are also good during BP.”

Packing your equipment bag: According to Fenway’s rules, strollers and diaper bags are allowed provided they can fold up easily and can fit beneath the seats. (Still not sure how a stroller can fold up easily and fit beneath a seat.) No coolers, large bags, cans, umbrellas, or food. Each person is allowed to bring in one unopened water bottle that is 16 ounces or less. Note that changing tables are located in the men’s and women’s restrooms near Gate E and at the lower concourse level behind home plate as well as in the first aid section behind Section 12. There are also family restrooms at Gate E and the Big Concourse.

Scoring autographs:
The best chance for your youngsters to get autographs from their favorite Sox players is to show up four to five hours before game time and stake out an area near Gate D. That’s where the players arrive for the game. While most players go directly from their cars straight into the ballpark, some may take the opportunity to sign some autographs. If nothing else, you can usually get a few good photographs and admire the players’ wheels. Once in the ballpark, it gets tougher, but some players will occasionally sign autographs on their ways in and out of the dugouts during batting practice. (You’ll have better luck with the visiting team.) Also be sure to check out Autograph Alley where a former Red Sox player, coach, or personality will sign autographs free of charge before the game.

Getting on TV: Michael Narracci, director of Boston Red Sox baseball telecasts at NESN, gave The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston some advice for increasing your odds of getting on camera. He says to bring a sign, look at one of the cameras, and hold it up for 30 seconds or more between innings. You’ll better your odds by mentioning NESN or announcers Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy on the sign. Plus, it should look like you put some time into making it. “A pizza box with magic marker on it doesn’t have a chance,” he says.

Futures at Fenway. If the prices of Sox tickets are too steep, get a ticket to the annual Futures at Fenway, which features a double-header involving Boston’s minor league affiliates. Tickets start at $5, and Green Monster seats and other areas of high demand are only $30. This year’s Futures at Fenway is July 10.

The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston contains many more practical tips for enjoying your trip to Fenway Park along with tips for attending events for 25 different sports around metropolitan Boston. The 270-page spectator handbook covers everything from pro and college sports to amateur and high school events. For more information on your all-access ticket to the greatest sports city in the world, click here.