Worth's Guide to Fenway Park
Baseball’s back, family travel is back and masks are back in the drawers where many of us believe they belong. So if you’re looking for the perfect family outing, think about Boston, and if you’re thinking about Boston, then you really want to think about Fenway Park.
Fenway bills itself as “America’s most beloved ballpark.” Chicagoans who love Wrigley Field may disagree. Yet most fans believe that the quirky old yard is the best place in the country for taking in a major league game. Fenway Park is in a near-constant state of rejuvenation, and every season, it seems, new amenities emerge to entertain the faithful.
Here’s a simple way to ensure that the seats you purchase, from redsox.com or resellers like gametime.co, give you the best view for the buck. Let the expense account folks pay for the box seats. Instead, grab seats in the Grandstand anywhere from sections 12 to 30. This places you between first and third base, if not directly behind home plate, and also puts a roof over your head in the event of inclement weather. And the view is sensational.
Fenway has something for everyone. Your kids will enjoy their designated area where they can get balloon animals and color and paint, since ball games are really long these days. Horticulturalists in your group will be impressed by the huge vegetable garden overlooking the front of the park; ask an usher how to find it. Tons of greens grown at the ballpark are consumed at the ballpark; you cannot get more local than that.
If you aren’t a diehard and tend to leave ballgames early, make sure you stick around for the middle of the eighth inning. It’s a sort of second seventh inning stretch, where all of Red Sox Nation rises as one to sing Sweet Caroline along with Neil Diamond.
You can impress your party by explaining the origin of the delightful tradition: the song was first played as tribute to a baby daughter named Caroline, of course, born to one of the groundskeeping staff. The fans grabbed the tradition with gusto, although most people have absolutely no clue as to why they’re singing. But at Fenway, most people are so loaded by the eighth inning that they don’t even care.
Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The beer prices are steep enough to keep all but the most dedicated drinkers relatively sober throughout the game.
And if the Sox win, stick around after the last out to raise your voice in song once again with the fans, as they sing along with the Standells: “Love that dirty water…ooh…Boston, you’re my home!” You’ll be such a Bostonian by then that you’ll probably be pahking your cah in Hahvahd Yahd.
If you’re going to Fenway, then you must stay at the Hotel Commonwealth, a short line drive from the Green Monster and the famous Monster seats. Hotel Commonwealth is located in Kenmore Square, just a five-minute walk from the park, sparing you the challenge of packing into Boston’s antiquated subway system, the T, or paying shockingly exorbitant parking fees around the ballpark.
The Hotel Commonwealth completed a $50 million facelift seven years ago and has been partnering with the Red Sox ever since to create extraordinary lodging experiences for baseball-loving visitors.
You can stay at Hotel Commonwealth’s Fenway Park Suite, where you will discover original ballpark seats on its terrace, from which you can actually watch games at Fenway. Inside your suite, you’ll find Red Sox memorabilia, including signed baseball cards from Ted Williams, Bobby Doer, Dom DiMaggio (he’s better than his brother Joe!) and fan favorite Johnny Pesky.
You’ll also find tickets from the 1946, 1967, and 1975 World Series games and a coffee table signed by any number of Red Sox legendary players.
Hotel Commonwealth also has access to coveted, impossible-to-find front row seats as well as the famous Green Monster seats, which let you watch the game from way out in left field, a piece of turf patrolled by just three men from 1939 to the 1989. (Can you name them? Answers below.)
Hotel Commonwealth can also arrange other great seats or experiences for you like getting you and your kids onto the field prior to the game, having your names up on the scoreboard as honored guests, or having Wally and Tessie, the team’s mascots, stop by your seats for a special grip and grin with your kids.
You don’t have to love baseball to have a great time at Hotel Commonwealth. If you’re bookish by nature, stay at their Reading Suite, a six hundred square foot suite with an oversized library table, polished brass reading lamps, a window seat overlooking Kenmore Square where you can read from the collection of Boston authors’ works housed in a beautiful glass case in your bedroom, or play LPs on a genuine vinyl record player.
If the arts are important to you, then you’ve got to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum nearby. “Mrs. Jack,” as she was known, combined an unerring sense for finding extraordinary artwork along with a limitless fortune back at the turn of the previous century. On repeated trips to Europe, she snagged countless paintings, sculptures, and tapestries that are on view in the Italian palazzo she built herself not far from Fenway more than a hundred years ago.
Here are two things that I’m sure you never knew about the Gardner: first, there are several apartments for visiting artists that can be made available under certain circumstance to guests, so you can literally enjoy a night at the Museum. And second, since Mrs. Jack was a huge Red Sox fan a century ago, if you’re wearing any kind of Red Sox gear to the Gardner, the staff will happily take one dollar off your admission fee.
So there you have it—Fenway Park, Hotel Commonwealth and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Now that’s a real Boston triple-play!
(Answer to trivia question: For 50 years, the Red Sox had only three regular left-fielders—Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice.)