9/7/91 at Fenway Park

Let me start with a photo and then give you a little context:

1_zack_batting_practice

See that dweeb in the yellow shirt? That’s me at the age of 13. I don’t remember what my lifetime baseball total was at the start of the day, but I can tell you this: one month later I snagged my 18th ball at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, so I was still VERY new to this whole ballhawking thing.

Here’s another fun fact: prior to this game at Fenway, I’d only been to Shea and Yankee, so this was my first time visiting a major league stadium outside of New York City.

I managed to snag three baseballs during batting practice, mainly due to the fact that I got to enter the stadium extra early . . . thanks to these guys:

2_stu_and_harry_dickson

In the photo above, that’s my dad on the left. The gentleman on the right — his longtime friend Harry Dickson — was super-connected in Massachusetts and knew everyone at the stadium. The fact that he was Michael Dukakis‘s father-in-law might’ve had something to do with that, but enough about politics. Harry got us inside early, arranged for us to hang out in a suite for the entire game, and even took me up to the press level.

Here I am getting to operate the electric portion of the Green Monster scoreboard DURING THE GAME:

3_zack_operating_the_scoreboard

In the photo above, do you see the small boxlike thing at the bottom with square buttons on it? (It’s just to the left of my elbow.) That was the machine that controlled the scoreboard. When I saw the ump call a strike, I pushed a little “strike” button — and so on. No pressure. There were only 33,000 people in attendance.

Obviously I was excited to get to do that, but I hadn’t been to enough stadiums to fully grasp how excited I should’ve been. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but stupid 13-year-old me was like, “Cool, so this is what fans sometimes get to do at baseball games.”

I wish I’d taken a photo of the scoreboard-operating machine. I wish I’d photographed the inside of the suite or at least my view from it. (It was on the first base side.) Or any of the free/unlimited hot dogs I ate. Or my mom. Or the baseballs that I snagged. But I don’t think I owned a camera back then. Documenting things was a foreign concept. I was still four years away from starting a journal, 14 years away from blogging, and 17 years away from creating my YouTube channel. Therefore the only photos I have from the stadium are the ones my parents happened to take. Thankfully this was one of them:

4_zack_fenway_sherm_feller

That’s me with Sherm Feller, the longtime public address announcer for the Red Sox. (I was all about the Mets back then and wore that cap everywhere.) He was nice enough to let me pose at the microphone:

5_zack_fenway_microphone

The game itself was WILD. It set a new record for the longest nine-inning game in history: four hours and six minutes, which was unheard of in the early 1990s. There was a ton of scoring, multiple lead changes, and the Red Sox ended up beating the Mariners 11-10.

Remember Mike Greenwell? Red Sox outfielder? No? Well, he went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs. Wade Boggs, Jody Reed, Carlos Quintana, and Ellis Burks all had two hits apiece for Boston.

For the Mariners, catcher Dave Valle went 4-for-5 with a double and four RBIs. Ken Griffey Jr. only had one hit, but it was his 40th double of the season, and he knocked in a pair of runs. Jay Buhner and Alvin Davis each had two hits; Edgar Martinez, Harold Reynolds, and Tino Martinez each picked up one hit. Omar Vizquel went hitless and some tall, lanky scrub named Randy Johnson allowed seven runs in the first two innings. I wonder what became of him. He threw really hard and was supposed to be great.

My dad’s friend really hooked it up for us. Even our exit was memorable and photo-worthy:

6_zack_fenway_parking_lot

Either I *always* wore that shirt (quite possible) or my parents drove us directly to Shelter Island after the game. I say that because of this photo, taken on the ferry to the Island:

7_zack_ball_shelter_island_ferry

But then . . . where was my Mets cap? And why wasn’t it closer to dusk? And why was I only holding one ball instead of all three? Maybe that photo doesn’t belong here, but I like it.

I’m proud to say that 25 years later, I still have my ticket stub from this game, paper clipped to an index card with a few notes:

8_fenway_ticket_and_notes_09_07_91

That’s what I used to do with my tickets back in the day, at least for the games at which something special happened.

BTW, Mike Trout was one month old when this game was played. Thanks to Twitter user @BravesStats for pointing that out.

I might post more “Turn Back The Clock” entries this winter, but for now, check out the ones I’ve already done:

1) October 4, 1992 at Fulton County Stadium
2)
 June 11, 1993 at Candlestick Park
3) Game 5 of the 1993 World Series at Veterans Stadium
4)
August 24-25, 1995 at Anaheim Stadium
5)
 June 11, 1996 at Shea Stadium
6) July 1, 1998 at Three Rivers Stadium
7)
 July 2, 1998 at Cinergy Field
8) July 10, 1998 at Tiger Stadium
9) July 13, 1998 at County Stadium
10) July 14, 1998 at Busch Stadium
11) May 29, 1999 at the Kingdome
12) July 18, 1999 at the Astrodome
13) September 24-25, 1999 at the Metrodome
14) May 9-10, 2000 at Olympic Stadium
15)
 July 17-18, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium

And hey, don’t miss the old stadium videos that I’ve recently posted on YouTube. I only have two there for now (Fulton County and Veterans), but I have four more on the way . . .

11 comments

  1. jere80

    In the top pic, that tall guzzle of Gatorade’s gotta be Randy Johnson at far left, walking with (I believe) his future personal catcher, Boston’s John Marzano. To the right of them, more Red Sox: I’d say Phil Plantier based on the black high-tops, then maybe switch-pitcher Greg Harris, followed by Red Sox manager Joe Morgan.

    So weird you would post this tonight. I was at Fenway Park TONIGHT! Yes, on November 29th. Was there looking at possible new seat locations for my season ticket plan.

  2. Zack Hample

    I love your guesses/assumptions about who the players are. As for the timing of my posting this, I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and realized I was on the verge of breaking my streak of posting something every month since I started the blog in 2005. Gotta keep that archive list intact.

  3. Liz Merry

    Awww…you were adorable! What happened to that Mets cap? (I know you no longer pledge fielty to any team, but it’s nice you grew up a Mets fan.)

  4. Zack Hample

    Shux. I think I actually got that cap signed by Ozzie Smith at Bucky Dent’s Baseball School in Florida. I still have it . . . somewhere. Glad you got the shirts!

  5. ahanjain

    Hey Zack great job with the post. Very interesting to read. Definitely will be coming back. Keep up the good work!

  6. Drew

    Hey Zack,

    Another cool entry! I’m looking into buying one of your bobble heads online. My family says that I should use my $25 better but I still want it. An idea for future years: I know you’re not a huge football fan, but there is a college football bowl game called the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium every year. Maybe we could have some YouTube action? Anyways, thanks for all you do and I hope you have a fun offseason.

    Drew

  7. Zack Hample

    Thanks! As for the bobblehead, I don’t want to get between you and your family. To some people $25 is a lot. To others, it’s not much, so that’s really your call. You can always watch my YouTube vids for free. Pinstripe Bowl? Maybe next year. Let’s see how 2017 shapes up and if I feel it’s worth the effort . . .

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