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Surrounded By Yankees Fans At Fenway Park
A Red Sox Fan's Best Fenway Park Memory
It was Saturday, July 31, 1999, a bright, beautiful sunny day in Boston as my wife and I arrived at Fenway Park.
It was her birthday gift to me and I was amazed she was able to score Sox/Yankees tickets. Even back then, when the Red Sox weren’t contenders, it was difficult to get such tickets, but she did!
We took our seats in right field, a little more than halfway between the Sox dugout and the right field foul pole, known as Pesky’s Pole, about 20 rows from the field.
As a point of interest, the Red Sox officially named the right field foul pole for the Red Sox great (and lifer) in a pregame ceremony on Johnny Pesky’s 87th birthday in 2006. The team retired his number...6...in 2008.
Beloved by Red Sox Nation, and all of baseball, in fact, Johnny was associated with the Red Sox for some 60 years. He died in 2012 at age 92.
So here we are, seated in pretty good foul ball territory; maybe we'll get lucky. Red Sox Nation (I’m not sure the term was even in use back then) was in a foul mood, though.
The Yanks had trounced us the night before, 13-3, and Roger Clemens was pitching today, only in pinstripes! The boo-birds were sure to be out in force.
As Fenway began to fill up, we noticed dozens of empty seats around us and in the adjacent section, which seemed kind of odd.
These were great seats, after all, and this was the Red Sox vs. the Yankees, for cryin' out loud!
Just a few minutes before the first pitch, in they came; hordes of Yankees fans probably just getting off a bus. There must have been 75 of them, taking their seats all around us.
We were surrounded by the enemy! Did we dare to clap and cheer our team to victory?
Not to worry. They seemed like a nice bunch of folks; mostly young families and some baby boomer Grandparents, lots of pre-teen kids. Should be an enjoyable afternoon.
The game was a thriller, with the lead changing hands several times. Paul O’Neill and Chuck Knoblauch hit solo shots for the Yanks and Trot Nixon took Clemens deep, much to the delight of about half of those in attendance.
There are almost as many Yankees fans as Sox fans in the stands at Fenway when these two teams play.
Much to our chagrin, Clemens left after the 6th with a 5-4 lead we had hoped we could wrest from him. But we tied it up in the 7th and it stayed that way until the 9th.
All throughout the game, my wife and I noticed that when things were going the Yankees way, their fans that surrounded us were loud and animated, but when things were happening for the Sox, they were sullen.
When we few Red Sox fans would whoop and cheer, some of the Yanks fans would say things like, “Wait til we get up,” or “Don’t worry, it won’t last.” those sort of comments. They were being mischievous, not obnoxious.
In the bottom of the 9th, Jose Offerman led off with a triple to the triangle in center field, at the edge of the bullpens. John Valentin then came up and lifted a fly ball down the left field line.
Yankee left fielder Shane Spencer came charging towards the line, but then realized the dilemma. Will it stay fair or go foul? Too close to call.
Wherever he caught the ball, he'd have to throw a pinpoint perfect laser beam to the plate or Offerman would surely score the winning run.
So, even though he was camped right under it, Spencer exercised the option any one of us would have exercised: he extended his arms out to his sides and let the ball drop…and it did, fair by inches as Offerman scampered home with the winning run. What a dramatic walk-off Sox victory!
Our neighbors from the Big Apple, every one of them, sat in stunned silence as Red Sox fans erupted. As the noise faded and the New Yorkers gathered their children and belongings for the long ride home, my wife and I made our way to the runway.
As we did, I couldn’t resist a parting shot. “Y’all have a nice trip back to the city, now, y’heah,” I said to those within earshot. With that, one of the Grandparents extended his hand and as we shook, he said, “But it really was a helluva game, wasn’t it?” Yes, sir, it truly was.
That’s my second all time favorite Red Sox/Yankees memory. My very favorite is the 2004 ALCS. The most vile Red Sox fan couldn’t have written a more crushing script. If the Sox never get in the post season again, that’s OK by me. I’ll keep watching that '04 ALCS DVD and it will keep me satisfied for the rest of my life.