On October 23, 2013, I was driving my trusty (though sans GPS) rental car back into Boston in peak hour traffic at the end of a leaf-chasing road trip through New England. As I approached the city Boston radio stations became available, and I was listening to the headlines after several days off the grid when I heard something of great interest – the first game of the MLB World Series was taking place that very night at Fenway Park.
Even if you don’t like baseball, attending such a major sporting event is, for most, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In fact, I never dreamed I would actually attend a game.
As my dad played and worked in baseball for most of my life, I grew up with the sport and many of my first memories took place around the outside of the diamond. I was therefore extremely interested to hear this news. As I had left a few days previously and stayed offline most of the time, that was the first I heard that the Red Sox had made it through the play-offs to the pinnacle event.
After returning the car and checking in to my hostel, I searched for tickets to find all that remained were options on StubHub for hundreds of dollars. I decided it was not within my budget at that point, but at least I had tried, then called my parents to tell them I had arrived safely.
When I mentioned the World Series they were quick to offer to buy me a ticket as a generous combined birthday and Christmas present, and so we set about trying to do so – but with no luck. The transaction would not go through, and so I debated whether or not it was worth going to Fenway Park and seeing whether I could source a ticket there. All of us thought I had zero chance of finding something, but I decided that even just experiencing the atmosphere outside the Park would be worth it.
I walked toward the famous stadium that was on my to-do list in Boston for the following days, and was soon swept up in the navy and red-dressed crowd making their way to Fenway. As we got closer there were hawkers offering tickets for a few hundred dollars, which I genuinely considered as an option, though I did need to pay a visit to the ATM first, so continued walking.
At Fenway Park I asked a staff member if there was any way to buy a last-minute ticket to the game, and they pointed me toward a line of people seemingly waiting to do just that. I joined the line, which was mostly individuals like myself who had driven in after work that day or something similar to see what their chances of attending the game were.
I did not have high hopes that I would actually be able to buy a ticket, and was a bit wary of what the cost might be, but there was no denying the line was slowly moving – and I was getting closer to the front. My line buddies and I repeatedly said to each other: ‘If people are going in and not coming out, they must be buying tickets and getting inside!’ and ‘Surely we won’t actually get in?’ as we inched along. As we reached a security guard we asked if he knew about the availability of tickets, and he confirmed that there were indeed enough left to reach our point in the line.
Finally it was my turn at the ticket booth. The staff member informed me there were standing tickets available for USD 90, which was a huge difference from the few hundred I had been considering only an hour or so before. I handed over my card without hesitation, received my ticket and walked through the turnstile – then promptly stopped in disbelief. I was actually inside Fenway Park and was about to watch the Boston Red Sox meet the St. Louis Cardinals in Game One of the 2013 World Series.
Due to the time difference, it was early morning in Australia. I texted my parents to inform them of my unexpected success: “I’m in! Have fun at work,” then proceeded to buy merchandise for myself and various others.
With my various t-shirts and a hot dog in hand I climbed the stairs to the standing section, which was up behind left field and offered a perfect view. I was surrounded by locals, who talked and exclaimed throughout the game in their endearing Boston accents. It could hardly have been better.
The only mild complaint was the cold. I became steadily chillier in my place high up in the stands, unprotected from the wind on that late October night for three and a half hours, but it was more than manageable and an easy sacrifice to make.
To make the experience even sweeter, Boston won the game 8-1, then went on to win the series four games to two. And I ticked Fenway Park off my Boston Bucket List in the best possible way.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC