May 2008

Race to See a No-Hitter

JonLester.jpg

I
have always wanted to witness a no-hitter in person. Tonight, I finally
did. Did I have a ticket to the game? No. Did I watch the whole game?
No. In fact, I slept through a couple of innings. But I was at Fenway
for the last two outs. Here’s how I experienced Jon Lester’s no-hitter.

From 7:30 to 8:00pm, I got my boys (9 and 6) ready for bed and read
aloud to them. As they fell asleep, I also fell asleep in my chair with
the book on my lap. At about 8:30pm, I sat on the couch next to my wife
and we spent perhaps 15 minutes perusing digital photo albums of our
kids with the Sox game on TV in the background. I noticed the Sox were
winning 5-0, but it wasn’t until the middle of the seventh inning that
I noticed the zeros in the Royals’ hit column. “He’s throwing a
no-hitter!” I said to my wife. “I have to drive down there!”

Wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, I bolted for the car and began my
speedy 12-mile sprint down Route 9 to Fenway Park. Listening to the
game on the radio, I was distressed when the Sox went down quickly in
the bottom of the seventh. “Come on guys!!” I yelled, imploring our
hitters to give me some time to get to the park. The top of the eighth
flew by too as the Royals went 1-2-3, and it was at that point that I
arrived at the section of Route 9 where there is ALWAYS a speed trap.
Reluctantly, I slowed down to the speed limit (prudent — the car
behind me got pulled over).

As the Red Sox batted in the bottom of the eighth, I hit another
sand trap: construction that narrowed the road to one lane of
slow-moving traffic. “NOOO!” I screamed. But I hit mostly green lights,
and as Lester took the mound for the top of the ninth, I turned onto
Boylston Street and searched frantically for a parking spot. Lester
threw ball four to the leadoff hitter, Esteban German, at the same
moment that I found an empty parking space at the McDonald’s opposite
Yawkey Way.

redsoxfans.jpg

A
sprint across the street and down Yawkey Way to Gate B, a flash of my
Red Sox Nation VP credential to the security dude, and I was in the
bowels of the park. Continuing to run at full speed, I headed for the
ramp on the first base side and emerged into Fenway at the same moment
that David DeJesus grounded out to Kevin Youkilis for out number two.
“Wooooo hooooo!!” I had just arrived, but I was immediately in synch
with the rest of the crowd that had been there for three hours.

As I walked along the main aisle towards right field, fans jumped up
and down, screamed, prayed, clapped, smiles on all their faces. Several
people reached out to me with high-fives as I walked by. What a
feeling. THIS IS FENWAY PARK, I was thinking. I found an empty box seat
just beyond first base and planted myself there to watch the last few
pitches. “This is it, I’m finally going to see a no-hitter!” Strike
three to Alberto Callaspo! Then, bedlam. Absolute bedlam. The crowd
noise completely drowned out “Dirty Water” as it blared through Fenway.

I was there. After all these years, I can say I was there.

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