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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Feeling Fenway

Two more Braves bits over at Bugs & Cranks to get things started:

Home Sweet League — Thank the gods we’re not playing those damned American Leaguers any more


Looking Back, Springing Forward? — At the halfway pole, are the Braves a thoroughbred, or glue factory fodder?

Now, on with the show.

My mother-in-law was in town for a few days this past week. She and my parents come to Boston every summer (separately, of course, lest we risk a reprise of “The Wedding Reception Chicken Dance Debacle of ’96”), and after eight years of visits, things are starting to get a bit complicated. Specifically, we’re not sure where to take them.

That’s not to say that we’ve run out of places to take them. Boston’s a big place, and it’s pushing four hundred years old. There are thousands of historic sites and museums and exhibits and ‘George Washington’s cousin’s wife once peed on this rock‘ plaques to last a lifetime of tours around here.

The problem is, we’ve seen a few of them now. And if you’ve seen one peed-on rock, then you’ve pretty much seen them all. And we’d hate to have our guests thinking that Boston has nothing more to offer than what we’ve already shown them. So it’s a challenge to keep the tourist treks ‘fresh’ for repeat visitors.

“That’s approximately the point where I stopped being a mature, sober(ish) adult on a tour, and turned into a squealing ten-year-old boy with a Pixie Stix rush.”

For first-timers, it’s so much easier. We take baseball fans to a game at Fenway Park. Foodies, we escort to Legal Seafood or to one of the excellent local sushi houses. Families and shoppers can spend a day at Faneuil Hall.

(And for the love of Boston cream pie, don’t try to sound that last one out, if you’ve never heard it pronounced. I did that once, and it wasn’t pretty.)

But what to do with folks who’ve done all that — and walked the Freedom Trail downtown? And strolled through Boston Common? And watched fireworks by the Charles River, checked out Plymouth Rock, trekked to Salem for the witch museum, AND walked the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution?

Short of finding them their own rock to pee on by the Old North Church, I don’t know, either. So it’s a good thing my wife is around to think of places to take our visitors. Because there’s plenty enough pee on the streets of downtown Boston as it is. Or so I would assume.

This time around, the missus outdid herself. Not only did she work out a schedule including two restaurants her mother hadn’t been to and a museum exhibit featuring a well-known artist, she slipped something in for me, too — a tour of Fenway Park.

It might seem odd that a baseball guy and Fenway fanatic like me had never toured the field before. But a stadium tour isn’t like a baseball game. I go to games every chance I get — which, with the ticket prices at Fenway, is basically whenever I can finagle another mortgage from the bank. But you can’t spell ‘tourist’ without ‘tour’, so for the ‘behind-the-scenes’ Fenway experience, we had to wait for a visitor. And our chance came this weekend.

Most of the tour was pretty straightforward. We sat in the grandstand, and on one of the roof decks, and the perky Sox tour guide instructed us in the history, trivia, and minutiae of Fenway Park. It was interesting and enlightening stuff, but it paled in comparison to the latter bit of the tour, when we were allowed onto the warning track, facing the mighty Green Monster itself.

That’s approximately the point where I stopped being a mature, sober(ish) adult on a tour, and turned into a squealing ten-year-old boy with a Pixie Stix rush. On the field at Fenway? Standing on the hallowed ground of Sox heroes past and present? Without hopping the fence and being tackled by burly security guards? Eeeeeee!

As we prepared to walk onto the crushed brick surface of the track and gaze up at the Monster towering thirty-seven feet above us, our tour guide puckered her brow into a stern little look and told us:

Now, many tour groups don’t get to go onto the field. This is because some people like to reach down and scoop up part of the track to take home as a souvenir. So don’t do that and ruin it for everyone else. I’ll be watching you out there, and if I see anyone bending over to scoop up a handful, I’ll be very upset.

Fair enough. Far be it from me to be part of ‘the problem’ at Fenway Park — least of all when it comes to keeping the field pristine. I was quite happy enough with my close-up camera shots of the Green Monster and the field-level snaps of the diamond below.


It’d be nice to say I know what the warning track at Fenway Park feels like. I could sort of feel it crunching underfoot, but I wasn’t actually touching the field, exactly. Surely I couldn’t give up my one chance to physically contact a part of baseball history. Could I?

No. I couldn’t.

So I slyly bent to one knee to ‘tie’ my shoe, which was, of course, in no need of retying. Craftily checking both ways, I prepared to carry out my plan — an open-palmed rub in the Fenway warning track grit. I swear on the popsicled head of Ted Williams, I was only going to rub the track. No scooping.

As I reached out toward my destiny, I heard a crunch and a loud ‘Ahem!‘ behind me. I looked around to see the tour guide, with her face all scrunched up again, slowly shaking her head at me, as if to say, ‘Don’t. You. Dare.

(I know that look well. My wife gives me that look all the time. My mom used to give me that look. The dog gives me that look. My boss gives me that look. I’m pretty sure when we walked into Fenway, the statue of Ted Williams outside gave me that look.

He’s just pissed about the ‘popsicled head’ comment. Frozen old ballplayers are so sensitive.)

Clearly, the jig was up. She could see my well-tied shoes. She knew my kneel was a ruse. And while I hadn’t done anything yet, she was certainly not letting me put my hands anywhere near that warning track. So I did what any self-respecting Fenway fan would do in that situation.

I licked it.

That’s right. I licked Fenway Park. As I was getting up, I dropped my other knee down, bent over away from our tour guide, and got a big fat tongueful of warning track before rising to my feet and dusting off. I thought I disguised it rather well, but I couldn’t be sure what the guide saw, so I turned around, showed her my squeaky-clean palms, and said, by way of explanation: ‘Mmmrph.

It’s kind of hard to talk with a mouthful of crushed brick, and I wasn’t about to open wide enough to give it away. She looked at me for a minute, still scrunchy, then shrugged and went back to telling us about Johnny Pesky’s lumbago or something or other. Meanwhile, I hung behind the back of the group to pick bits of brick out of my teeth for the remainder of the tour.

But I got what I wanted, and got to feel Fenway Park, up close and personal. Even better, I Frenched Fenway Park. That’s going on the old resume, for certain. And now not only do I know how the field at Fenway feels, I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that another championship is on the way.

As a matter of fact… I can taste it.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “Feeling Fenway”

  1. Kate says:

    Shit, Charlie. I’ve been too long gone away. Thanks for making me smile. I’ve been a bit down lately.

    Btw, your parents-in-law may not need all that entertaining anymore. They might just want to visit you guys.

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