(Photo by Sam of the gathering at Crossroads yesterday. L-R back row: Red, Annette, Kristen, Jay, Steve Brady, Iain, me, Julia, Jengal. Front: Steve (my fiancee), Denton, Emma. Click for big--I swear I look a lot less retarded in the bigger version. Thanks.)
Yesterday afternoon virtually everyone from our little blogging / message board
cult group showed up at Crossroads near Kenmore Square for beer and to see Iain. As his Official Contact Person In Charge, it was gratifying for me to see. Especially when the elusive Red and Denton walked in.
We were more subdued than the last time we got together. In fact, Red was so well behaved to begin with that I asked Denton if he had him on good behavior. "He's about one beer away from takin' ovah," Denton assured me.
A little while later, as Red let out some kind of whooping screech in the midst of telling Steve Brady some story, Denton looked at me and mouthed, "Now."
As with the last time we saw them, they're both a riot in and of themselves, but their relationship to each other is the best thing to watch.
Iain, who had begun learning certain phrases in a Boston accent, especially loved to hear Red talk. Under his breath he'd repeat certain phrases after Red said them. "Taggin' cahhs," he whispered to himself after Red questioned someone who came in asking if anyone had a Subaru double-parked outside.
I had also worked with him the day before on my personal favorite Boston phrase, the one-word greeting "Howaya?" Iain said that nearly constantly until the last time I saw him. That and the other phrase he'd heard most often on his trip--"Sellin' tickets, sellin' tickets?"
Yesterday was another warm, balmy day and another breathtaking twilight as we ascended the steps to our standing-room spaces (can't properly call them seats...) on the first base side of the State Street Pavilion.
I have never been to the roof level / sky boxes / what have you for a Red Sox game. I also rarely sit on the first base side. Thus the view was astonishing to me--it felt like being at the ballpark for the first time all over again.
The family of Dennis Thomson threw out the ceremonial first pitch last night. It was probably the only ceremonial first pitch (aside from the ones thrown out by the Patriots) I've ever heard so warmly received.
Who is Dennis Thomson? For starters, he is the fan in the red shirt on the far left in this photo:
Dennis' family had no idea, apparently, that his picture was going to appear on the billboard. The photo is from the aftermath of Trot Nixon's walkoff home run in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS. Dennis, meanwhile, was killed by a drunk driver on October 30, 2004, the day of the Red Sox' victory parade.
"Seeing the billboard, the Thomson family took it as a sign," intoned the Fenway announcer, as the park suddenly grew still, "That Dennis was all right, and watching the Red Sox, wherever he was."
Dennis' parents and siblings and the two friends pictured to his left in the billboard photo stood on the mound. Dennis' brother was to throw the pitch. Trot Nixon crouched behind the plate to catch it.
Beyond the Fenway facade and the Monster the sunset began to paint the clouds and the faces of buildings, visible beyond the walls from our high perch. Below us the park was spread out in perfect crisp greens. The crowd was hushed. The boy on the mound threw the ball as hard as he could to Trot, who gloved it after one bounce. The crowd gave the boy and the family a standing ovation. Next to me, Iain applauded for the Thomsons, too--and suddenly it hit me, on top of the poignance of the Thomson family's story and the beauty of the dusk that Iain's visit would be over very soon.
I gulped around the lump in my throat.
Kevin Millar took his curtain call, tipping his cap on the field. The sun got lower, the shadows sharper, the golden highlights more intense. The Red Sox put up five runs in the second inning, and Tim Wakefield looked sharp again. Julian Tavarez caused a benches-clearing conversation of sorts and Manny hit a monstrous homer clear over the Monster. By then it was dark.
Rudy Seanez raised blood pressures with his appearance, but got out of the game OK. In what seemed like the next minute after the first pitch, "Dirty Water" was playing.
We stayed on the State Street Pavilion until someone told us to leave. Then we walked, slowly, slowly, down the stairs and took more pictures, until someone else told us to leave. Then we went down the ramp two levels and took pictures at the back of the infield grandstand of the empty park and the groundskeepers cleaning up until someone told us to leave. Finally we trudged out of the park, out of the gates, for good.
But even then we lingered, having found ourselves exiting the park among a crowd gathered to watch the various tricked-out SUVs delivered to the curb by valets and then driven slowly through the throngs by the players.
Millar caused a sensation with his appearance, flanked by David Ortiz. He spent quite a long time visiting with a crowd held back by security fencing across the street. Then he and Ortiz got into probably the most pimped-up white Humvee I've ever seen, Ortiz cranked the bazooka bass so the beat rattled our sternums while the crowd laughed and cheered, and they drove away.
Iain and I both were trying to prolong the experience. Our steps were slow; every possible excuse to stay first inside and then near Fenway was embraced. But then we were on the T and then we were at Park Street and then we were hugging goodbye on the platform and then I was waiting for my train to Alewife and just like that, he was gone and it was over.
A dressed-up couple saw my Sox jersey, and then the woman noticed my dejected expression.
"Did they lose?" she asked me gently.
"Oh, no," I said back, snapping out of it, as the Alewife train roared in on a diesel wind. "They won. 9-3. They won going away."
The train was stopping with a hydraulic wheeze. As its doors opened, I thought about what I'd just said, and smiled a little to myself.