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Steve Bartlett: Visiting a field of dreams


Published on July 31, 2017

Take me out to the ballgame

FENWAY PARK, BOSTON, MASS. — My seat is tiny. It feels like 1,000 humid degrees. The sun is blinding. And my shirt is covered in mustard from a hot dog I just finished.

Steve Bartlett: The Deep End
TC Media

Still, this is the realization of a dream, one that started more than three decades ago when my parents got cable TV.

One of the new stations we got was WLBZ out of Bangor, Maine.

It had Eddie Driscoll, “The Great Money Movie,” public service announcements “put on for ya” and “Stacey’s Country Jamboree.”

And it showed every single Boston Red Sox game.

That led to my friends and me becoming huge fans.

The team, and game of baseball, caught our imagination and never let go.

We played baseball for hours and hours and hours, pretending to be Sox players like Jim Rice, Carl Yaztremski, or Fred Lynn.

A stand of mature pine trees in my parents’ backyard became our Green Monster.

And we wondered what it’d be like to play or watch a game at Fenway Park.

That’s where I am now.

Finally!

My cousin Rob — who is forgiven for being a Blue Jays fan — and I are sitting in the centre field bleachers for a game between two of sport’s greatest rivals, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

The atmosphere is electrifying.

So is the match-up.

Pitcher David Price (finally) throws a gem.

“Moooooooooookie” Betts homers over the Green Monster.

And centrefielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — aka JBJ — robs rookie slugging sensation and very large human Aaron Judge of a two-run homer in the eighth inning.

That catch happens directly under us and Fenway is on wheels as it’s replayed on the humongous screen above.

My voice is among the screaming crowd of 36,719.

The fans are almost as entertaining as the game, particularly the shirtless drunk guy a few rows down who’s heckling Yankee fans and leading the cheers in our section.

This collective experience is awesome, even better than first imagined in 1979 and throughout every summer since.

At one point, I actually pinch myself.

As reliever Craig Kimbrel finishes off the Yanks, I realize adulthood — its responsibilities and realities — has been temporarily suspended.

I haven’t thought about anything but baseball — not work, or paying mortgages, fixing that shingle over the front door, or anything serious — for almost three hours.

I haven’t even checked my iPhone, outside of Facebook posts about the game.

It’s like I’m 10-years-old again.

And that’s an awesome feeling, one I’ve missed and need to feel more.

I’ll get to do so for the next couple of days, as we’re coming back to Fenway for two more games — between the Sox and Blue Jays — before heading home.

This recent trek took lots of planning and saving, as well as some ninja-like hotel pricing by Rob’s wife Melinda.

But it was worth the effort. I can finally stop telling anyone who’ll listen my dream is to see a Red Sox game at Fenway.

I’m fortunate and grateful, and sincerely hope you, Dear Reader, get to scratch something off your bucket list soon.

The world is running at a more hectic pace than ever, so escaping for a while and fulfilling a dream is recommended and worth it — unless, of course, your fantasy is to cheer on the Yankees.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and curve balls. Reach him at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.