Sunday, July 26, 2009

24 hours in Boston

BOSTON, July 25 -- John Updike once called Fenway Park "a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark.

"Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg."

So it is. The Fens is the oldest park in the majors. It is shoved into an old part of Beantown, on Yawkey Way, complete with its funky triangle, the Pesky Pole and that hypnotic Green Monster.

This is a cathedral. This is the greatest place to watch the greatest game.

Oh, and what a perfect night. The Sox win 7-2. Big Papi and Adam LaRoche hit dingers, the latter over that beautiful wall.

An hour before game time, I was sitting in "You've got to be kidding me" seats behind the Sox dugout, throwing back a hot dog dabbed with mustard and ketchup, when I gazed toward first base.

Then I see her.

Yes, Heidi Watney, New England Sports Network reporter. My crush. I could have gone home right then and there.

Sigh.

But, I stayed, and we sang "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth, and Jon Lester threw seven solid innings, and Daniel Bard threw 100 mph heat, and Ramon Ramirez got Adam Jones to fly out to right field. "Dirty Water" and dancing in the streets.

Perfect.

Earlier, we walked to Boston Harbor, passing the meeting house in which Samuel Adams gave the signal to begin the Boston Tea Party. And Boston Massacre sites. And John Hancock's house. And more Sam Adams.

It's enough to stir the soul. USA! USA!

We walked from Quincy Street past the Boston Common to Cheers -- where everybody knows your name. Of course, they didn't. But I stood in front of that famous facade and downed a Sam Adams (the other kind) in Norm Peterson's seat, Norm being everybody's favorite barfly, our lovable CPA known in real life as actor George Wendt. ("NORM!")

In case you missed it, "Cheers" was a classy and well-written sitcom from the 1980s set in a Boston bar. It is a real place formerly called the Bull and Finch. The inside does not look like the TV Cheers, other than the set bar built upstairs. Hence Norm's corner stool. Complete with a brass plaque.

After we left the cathedral, once the "Yankees Suck!" cheers subsided, we walked the streets of this seductive city, past brownstones and beautiful people dressed in coats, ties and dresses, past newspapers tossed onto stoops, past cabbies honking their horns. A hint of saltwater wafted in from the harbor.

Like all things we cherish, the dream had to end. But, not before a perfect 24 hours in Boston, with Cheers and Sam Adams and fresh shrimp and Heidi Watney and the lyric little bandbox of a ballpark mixed into a summer sojourn to remember.

Perfect.

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