- L-R: Tom Caron, Bobby Valentine, Kirk Minihane and Rob Bradford
When I received the annual email from the Red Sox inviting me to register for “a chance” to purchase tickets at Christmas at Fenway, my jaded self said, “Bah humbug…Another shameless front-office marketing ploy”. But, being ever-hopeful I registered anyway. Much to my surprise I received an email congratulating me for winning. “Sure”, said Cynical Self, “I win a chance to stand in line for 6 hours only to find out there is a single seat available in the bleachers for an April game against some lousy team.” I read it again. The word “chance” did not appear. The word “guaranteed” , however, did appear. Guaranteed chance to purchase tickets. Hmmmmm. I removed my rose-colored Red Sox glasses and visited with a workmate who is even more jaded than I am. He nodded his head and said it appeared to be the real thing.
With hope in my heart but cynicism darkening my mind, my Sox game pal and I were off to Christmas at Fenway at the appointed hour. We were met with a marketing blitz, for sure, but somehow I kind of enjoyed it. I picked up my free post-season copy of Red Sox Magazine with Jacoby on the cover and the first layer of cynicism faded away. (Very smart marketing people to put Jacoby on the cover!)
We manipulated our way through the hallowed halls of Fenway Park, took a peek at the view from the Monster Seats (it’s surprisingly good!), strolled past Wally the Green Monster, high-fived the Portland Sea Dogs mascot, saw a group of people gathered around live animals (snakes, parrots, turtles….I didn’t want to look too closely–yuk), saw kids getting baseballs, bats, sox and B’s painted on their faces, and shopped at the yard sale selling overpriced junk left-over and called “game-used” to raise the prices.
We then noticed the TV screens showing Luis Tiant and Darnell McDonald being interviewed by “Regular Rob” Crawford of NESN. We found ourselves in the EMC Club at Fenway watching the interview live. Darnell and El Tiante’ then proceeded to give autographs to fans. I am happy to report that Darnell’s autograph is now going to be included on my Red Sox quilt! When I stuck my quilt square in front of him, he asked, “What is this going to be?” I said, “A quilt and you are going to be in it!” He said, “Cool! I want to see it when it’s done.” Well, I’ll have to hold it up for him in April because he didn’t exactly give me his email address or cellphone number so we could meet for coffee and a peek at the quilt. But, I was impressed with D-Mac because he is the only player or coach so far that has made any kind of personal comment or questioned what he was signing. (To All Pro Baseball Players: It takes so little to make a fan for life!)
With freshly-signed and cherished fabric square in hand, my ticket group number was called; and off we went to the ticket booth. Still, that voice in my head told me we would be in a DisneyWorld-type queue that would stretch from Landsdown Street to Yawkey Way and back 12 times. But, no, we waited a short time before being called to the next available booth. We were met with another nice surprise. Contrary to what we were told earlier, we were able to purchase more than 8 tickets. We had no problem picking out additional games! The young girl at the ticket booth was patient and fun and seemed to enjoy and share our excitement at all things Red Sox. I have to say that the entire staff working that day at all levels were fun and helpful and made the day festive and extra special.
We were not done yet. The next thing we knew we stumbled upon Jim Lonborg signing autographs. We jumped in line and met Jim. JIM LONBORG! OMG. I couldn’t help myself and told him that he was my first baseball player crush. I am sure it’s not the first time he has heard that. (Yes, he is still as handsome as ever. His dental practice must be good to keep him so well-preserved!) He signed my Christmas at Fenway program with “Jim Lonborg, Cy Young 1967”. Sigh. (As much as I love you, Jim, you cannot sign my quilt squares. They are reserved for current players only. So sorry to disappoint you…)
More trips through the hallowed halls brought us back into the EMC Club only to meet NECN announcer, Tom Caron, standing around waiting for Bobby Valentine to show up. They went live on WEEI when Bobby V. came in. The reporters proceeded to ask him questions and let the audience do the same. I must say that some of the audience members asked more pointed questions than Caron, Minihane and Bradford. I love Sox fans. I don’t want to like Bobby Valentine out of loyalty to Terry Francona. But, I’ll tell you something: Bobby V. is hard not to like. He is just so open and up-front. Words tumble out of his mouth. Listening to him, you just know he’s about to spill over with information he’s not supposed to spill. He couldn’t help himself when he spilled more information about the “secret” conversation he had with Josh Beckett. Josh must be chewing his own tongue out by now. Fans and reporters will just eat this up! Players may not be so excited about it. As far as I am concerned, certain players lost their ability to complain about such things when they took advantage of their “player’s manager”, Terry Francona. Now it’s OUR turn, guys!!!
All good things must come to an end, and I could not stay for the Bobby V. autograph session. All in all, it was a wonderful and productive day. So, when you get that email next year asking you to register for “a chance” to go to Christmas at Fenway, don’t trash it. Go ahead, take a chance. I promise it will be worthwhile.