Day at Fenway

By: Lee Atchison Jun 1, 2016

I arrived at the hotel, a typical Residence Inn, and checked in. “You have a view of Fenway from your room”. Oh, that’s cool.

I went to the room, looked outside, and there she was, the green industrial looking complex that is Fenway Park. It didn’t look all that special from where I was. That would change. I arrived early in the day, and didn’t “officially” have any scheduled events until the next day, but I had to prepare what I was going to do the following day, and I’m sure I would be meeting up with some of the other New Relic and MLB folks for dinner later. But, that still left me time to look around.

So, I walked around the area of Fenway Park. There was a game scheduled for that night, Colorado Rockies vs Boston Red Sox. Even though it was hours until game time, you could already see the area coming to life with anticipation for the night’s activities. Vendors were warming up their grills and cooking the dogs, brats, onions, peppers. The smell was already in the air. People walking around started moving a bit peppier, the game was coming.

I have no other way to describe it…the area smelled like baseball. They were ready for the game.

I made my way around the park. I saw the statue of Ted Williams handing his hat to that boy with cancer, and read the inscription. I’ll admit, a couple tears formed in my eyes (those who know me will tell you that a few emotional tears from me isn’t all that big a deal), but this was a big deal. I looked up and saw the tributes to the great Boston players of the past. Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, and of course, Cy Young. Fenway Park has such a huge and long history. How long is the history? Well, when Fenway first opened, the opening was overshadowed by another big event of the day…the sinking of the Titanic. That is how old Fenway is. And baseball is even older in Boston.

I met up with friends from work for dinner, then later started working on my slides for the next day. I was going to interview Christian Villoslada, a Vice President from MLBam, who I just met the day before in New York. I was going to interview Wade Oladehin, a Solutions Architect from AWS, who I only talked to on the phone at the airport in NY earlier that day. But I knew what I needed on the slides, and they were pretty basic. I wrote a few notes on an index card to make sure I covered the Q&A I was planning on covering.

I did all this while listening to the game on the TV, and watching the park from my hotel room window. I couldn’t see the game, but I saw the John Hancock screen, and I could tell I was there. I wasn’t at the game, but I was already feeling the rush…of baseball.

May 25, 2016 The Morning

The next morning, I met Polly for breakfast. Polly is the wonderful person on the New Relic side who put the entire event together. This event would not have happened without Polly.

We headed over to the park, and they brought us up to the suite where we would have our event. This was one of the premier luxury suites companies use to entertain clients during a ball game. This was luxurious…and it was ours for the morning. I looked out the big glass front window at the field…my first view of Fenway field, and it hit me where I was. This was baseball in its classic splendor. This was Fenway, one of the last classic baseball parks remaining. The grounds crew were already out prepping the field and making sure it looked its finest. Not that it needed any help really, the outfield grass was already pristine.

I looked out over the right field wall at the seats out there, thinking maybe I’d see it…and there it was. The red seat. Boy, it was further away than I thought. That was one heck-of-a shot. What is the red seat you ask? It’s the seat, Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21, where Ted Williams hit his record breaking home run ball in 1946 going 502 feet. This was the furthest home run in Fenway’s history, hit by one of the most famous and inspirational players that ever played the game. A record that has never been broken. Oh, sure, there was the shot that Manny Ramirez hit that struck a light tower above the Green Monster in 2001…but the “official” distance distance for that shot was 501 feet. Nobody was going to better the great Ted Williams.

It was then, when I looked at that seat, when it really sunk in where I was. This was Fenway, one of the most famous ball parks left in America…a part of baseball history. A part of America’s history. And I was there.

Of course, you can’t miss the Green Monster, right there taking all of left and much of center field. It was on top of that where we’d watch the game that night. But that was for later.

Now, it was time for the event…and I had to get ready.

I won’t bore you with the details of the event. But it went great. The tech tour of Fenway was fantastic. We made it into the clubhouse. I went into the batting cage, of course we took pictures.

Now, back to the suite. The Q&A discussion with Christian and Wade about New Relic and Major League Baseball was great. Christian had great stories for the early days of MLBam. Wade talked about how AWS fit into the story. It was a great experience.

After the event, it was off to a lunch meeting…then back for a couple hours of downtime before the game. I had a bunch of photos on my phone I had to get out to folks back at the office. Virginette, our wonderful voice of New Relic on Twitter, was waiting for some pics from the morning event to Tweet out. Then, texts to family and a bazillion email messages…ok, so it wasn’t much of “downtime”.

May 25, 2016 The Game

Then, it was off to the game. It was mostly a different crowd of customers that came to the game then came to the morning event. The morning event was a tech tour for us tech geeks. The evening event was the executive event. We had a host from the Red Sox assigned to us, I feel bad because I don’t remember his name. But he did a fantastic job sharing the history of Fenway, and baseball in Boston. I talked to him later during the game some, and found out he is an intern and his job is the envy of his friends. He was proud to be with the Red Sox organization

We were allowed on the field during batting practice. We were roped off from the players, and told we couldn’t shout out to them…they were working after all. But if they came up to the rope line, we could get autographs. I went right over to as close as I could get to the Rockies dugout and I hung out there. Yes, that’s right, I’m in Boston and I’m rooting for the Colorado Rockies.

I waited by the dugout for one person and one person only. Walt Weiss, the manager of the Colorado Rockies, and one of the early stars of the Rockies back when the Rockies first started in the 1990’s. I vividly remember Walt when he played for the Rockies. My girlfriend and I were at his first home game in the Colorado Rockies uniform, opening day of the second season of the Rockies in 1994. After the game, I proposed to her, and we’ve been married for 22 years.

I waited…and waited…and right at the last minute before we had to go, he came by and I met him, shook his hand, and got his autograph… It was just moments before we had to move on.

We toured the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Saw the famous picture of the first World Series between the Boston Americans (before they were the Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was in 1903. It was the first and last time that both teams posed in the same picture at the World Series. Our host said, “See that guy in the middle with the big mustache? The guy to his right is Cy Young”. Imagine being part of baseball history, and your claim to fame was “the guy with the mustache used to locate Cy Young in a picture”.

Now it was up to our private box on the Green Monster. They are advertised as “The Best Seats in Baseball”. I was skeptical, until I got there. The description, it’s dead on. They are fantastic seats at a fantastic ballpark. We were given our menus for the evening…of course it was a VIP dinner served right at our seats…but I wasn’t expecting the quantity and quality. It was a series of small plates, one every couple of innings, and anything we wanted to drink along the way. And, of course, if you wanted a ball park hot dog or hamburger between courses…those were available too. I asked one of our local Boston customers during the game whether he was having a good time. He said, in a humorous tone, “You know, you’ve ruined baseball for me. Every time I come here I sit over there”, he was pointing to the cheap seats, “Now when I come and watch a game from now on, I’ll ask ‘where are the oysters on the half shell’? I’m spoiled for life!”. I think everyone had a great time.

I had what I considered the best seat in the house. I was right by the flag pole. When they sung the Star Spangled Banner, everyone was facing my way. I had to look straight up to see the flag. It was a very odd feeling. But what a view, I was 40 feet above the field, looking right down the center of the field…the pitcher, the plate, the catcher…were all in a line in front of me. I couldn’t have asked for a better view.

And what a game. Xander Bogaerts hit a home run over the top of the Green Monster. I’m such a Rockies fan, but it was hard to not also cheer when the Red Sox made a great play. And for the first time ever, I wasn’t sad when the Rockies lost (it was 10-3). They lost to a team and to fans that I grew to respect throughout the day. Baseball and Boston…they go together.

This truly is America’s pastime. And I am truly fortunate to be able to experience it the way I have.

Lee Atchison