The date was April 17, 1986 and I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I would be going to Boston, but that is the way it is with youth, whatever way the wind blows. It was at breakfast when the idea first surfaced, the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals that afternoon, and we should skip class and go. Being a much bigger Red Sox fan than I was a lover of Physics class, it took very little arm twisting to convince me. I wasn’t sure we could get tickets, but I was willing to give it a go. Remember this is a time before the internet and the availability of cheap online tickets you can get today. After intense debate, we allowed we could manage tickets either by buying them at the gate, or more than likely get them from one of the local entrepreneurs that scalp tickets all around Fenway Park. Although none of us had ever purchased from such an agent, we had all seen them, and being independent young men we figured we could handle this task.
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When it was all sorted out there were three of us that took the plunge. Two of us paid for gas and one volunteered to drive. We went to school about two hours from Boston, so it wasn’t a monumentally long trip. The ride down was full of fun, listening to the radio and arguing about the Red Sox. We got to Boston around noon which gave us an hour to find the cheapest place to park and procure tickets for the game. Once we parked our chariot and wandered toward Fenway we didn’t need to worry about where we were going to get tickets. There were people all over the street asking, “Need a ticket?” or proclaiming, “I’ve got your tickets here!” We had to make a decision, if we wanted to buy the tickets on the street or get them from the box office. I personally was looking for a bargain.
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We were not prepared for buying three tickets at once because we were a little overwhelmed by the scene surrounding the game, even though we were able to get tickets below face value, we didn’t notice that none of the seats were remotely close to each other until after and when we turned around to complain, our vender had vanished. We really felt pretty foolish, as we watched all of our plans for enjoying the game going up in smoke. It would be fun, but not much fun sitting in and amongst a bunch of total strangers. We considered looking for other tickets, but being college students we were on a pretty tight budget, and I personally wanted to have enough money left to eat hot dogs, pop corn and whatever else my heart desired. What is the sense of going to an event like that unless you get to sample all of the delicacies and ambiance involved?
We had come too far to turn back now, we decided to forge ahead. Once inside we knew we had little to worry about. Fenway was half full on this mid-April afternoon, we were able to pick and choose our seats, and we wound up having a blast moving to different seats for every inning. Even better was the result of the game. Roger Clemens pitched a complete game and got the win when Don Baylor hit a grand slam homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it for the Red Sox. We were sitting right behind the home dug out when Baylor hit his shot, and we hung around as long as they would let us after the game, they interviewed Baylor on the field. It was an awesome day.
It was one of the first signs of what was to come for our favorite team in the magical summer of 1986. We didn’t know that season would ultimately end in heartache and disappointment. On that sunny, spring day in 1986 we were full of hope. Bill Buckner was still a good player, rather than a punch line of a bad joke. Roger Clemens was 2-0 after that day and it would be two months before he lost a game. He would also strike out 20 Seattle Mariners in one game a short two starts later. All in all it was an outstanding adventure to Boston, so good in fact I remember it today over twenty five years later.