Sunday morning in Boston—just like a Sunday morning
in any big American city—is quiet and traffic-starved,
except for the ribbons of church-goers making their way to
both large and small bastions of Christianity.Then,too,there
are the groggy couples slogging along in the direction of
museums or brunch spots, the tempo of their walk bogged
down by the lingering saturation of Saturday night sex.
But smack in the middle of this city—Boston—a greater
edifice is about to open its portals hours earlier than usual to
welcome a milling throng of tens of thousands:The Red Sox
are scheduled to play a make-up game at noon, the first of a
day-night doubleheader. With that, the routine at Fenway
Park is awry in order to accommodate the shift.
The previous night’s game went into extra innings and
lasted four and a half hours.That,plus the shift,will make for
bleary-eyed personnel and strained ballplayers. The grounds
crew arrives at 5 AM instead of seven; the food vendors and
souvenir concessionaires are already prepping the microwaves
or tidying the t-shirt piles by eight; and at nine, the ushers
gingerly remove their blazers from the closets. Also at nine
o’clock, the venerable clubhouse manager Joe Cochran enters
the special players’ door on Van Ness Street. Not until ten
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith
does the press begin trickling in, generally hung over and
grouchy, slugging down coffee out of giant cardboard cups.
Finally, right on their heels, manager Terry Francona and
his team drive their cars,SUVs and pick-ups into the players’
lot tucked under the ramp at Gate D. Most come alone, but
some are dropped off by wives,who get a goodbye smooch.To
the family dog astride the back seat—a pat on the head. God
forbid the kids left the back door open and allowed the dog to
escape; ballplayers need their rituals.
The guys will enter their clubhouse,not only tired out,but
still feeling the vestiges of jet lag. They’d arrived from KC a
few days earlier, a flight that landed at Logan at 3 AM,
though each one—to a man—would insist, if pressed, that
he’s never affected by a missed night’s sleep. Denial and
superstition go hand in hand.
It is now 8:55. A good-looking guy, maybe Hispanic,
wearing a press tag around his neck and shouldering a bulky,
black, mesh backpack, strolls along Van Ness Street, past the
player’s parking lot. He turns the corner onto Yawkey Way
and arrives at Gate D during the morning’s most hectic
moments. Sacks of change—a quarter of a million dollars
worth—are being unloaded off the Dunbar armored truck to
be wheeled into the park under heavy guard, where they will
be dispersed among the concession and souvenir stands.
The lumpiness of the guy’s backpack should have raised
the eyebrow of the low-level security guard at D, his boss off
to see to the money truck. Sportswriters’ backpacks are flat,
though thick with their laptops layered between notebooks.
But this particular guard’s usual duties are to make sure no
one is sneaking under turnstiles.So he doesn’t even take in the
backpack; he actually gives the guy quite a friendly wave in
hopes of one day maybe making it into his column.
Also, the sportswriter is dressed sharply, and has a pres-
ence about him what with the high-end sunglasses and hun-
dred-and-fifty dollar haircut. He’s briskly entered the park
with the superior air of a sportswriter on a deadline. He will
go directly to the clubhouse when only the clubhouse manag-
er is inside—the coaches and trainers won’t arrive until just
before the players do.
Joe Cochran is in a poor frame of mind because DeMarlo
Hale,the third base coach,impulsively decided to get in some
work in left and center with Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury,
the player brought up from Pawtucket to share left field
duties while Manny Ramirez recuperates from a strained
oblique. DeMarlo, Coco and Jacoby are about to arrive, so
that the kid could practice positioning himself to play the
tricky caroms off the Green Monster.
Cochran is frustrated that his clubhouse isn’t in the top
state of preparedness he prides himself on. The threesome
came barreling in. Despite this extra disruption, he quickly
has them organized and out to the field.
When the slick sports writer peeks in, Cochran is in the
shower room unloading a box of toiletries, lining up the play-
ers’ brands of choice on the shelves under the mirrors. He is
cursing actually, digging frantically for Soothe Sensation Post-
Shaving Therapy Solution, the aftershave Manny insists on
splashing over his face or else he won’t come out.This attitude,
described in a term now embedded in baseball lexicography—
Manny being Manny—is also reflected in Manny’s work ethic;
though sidelined for a few days with a painful strained oblique,
he’s arrived early too, so he can give more detailed tips to
Jacoby. Manny is already out in left field stretching and jog-
The sportswriter walks swiftly across the lounge area,past
the soda and juice machines, and to the nearest inner door
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith
which happens to be the new interview room. He opens the
door, slides his backpack from his shoulders, and places it on
the floor just inside. He eases the door shut again and walks
The only thing Cochran ever heard was his own grum-
The guy takes the same route back out, waves to several
vendors, and to the bathroom attendants and ushers arriving
in force.Any of them who might have registered his counter-
feit press pass tag didn’t make much of the fact later that they
couldn’t recall his face.These press guys come and go.
The sportswriter strode right out through Gate D, now
mobbed with personnel rushing past a just-forming line of
tourists waiting to start their guided tour of Fenway, twelve
bucks apiece. They will end up quite thrilled at their good
luck—getting to see the unexpected mini-training session
going on at the foot of the Green Monster. Manny will be
sure to toss a ball or two to their group.
The sportswriter heads around the corner and up Van
Ness.At the gas station,he jumps into a Cadillac Escalade,its
engine idling.The SUV immediately speeds off past the tick-
et-holders heading toward Yawkey Way, and past the non-
ticket-holders hot-footing it to The Cask‘n Flagonas well as
several other bars of lesser renown along Lansdowne Street,
all opened early on this beautiful Sunday morning.
THE NUMBER ONE PLACE
Sunday, 8:05 AM
I know it’s mid-season, but I want to give new read-
ers of this blog a sense as to what goes on here.
My name’s Jay, I live near Boston, and I’ve been
doing this website for five years. At least once a
day, I’ll give you updates on our beloved Boston
Red Sox, or whatever else I’ve got an opinion on.
I’ll give you my take on last night’s game, but don’t
expect a traditional rundown. I’m assuming you’ve
watched the game, are familiar with the players,
know the bases are run counterclockwise, etc. After
all, you areprobably a Red Sox fan. When I see
people in Sox hats, I can assume they are probably
die-hards. When I see people in Yankees hats, well,
I don’t ask them who played shortstop before Derek
Jeter, because they probably don’t know anyone
everplayed shortstop other than ol’ Mr. Calm Eyes.
(All apologies to trueYankee fans.)
While the newspapers might talk about how much
“respect” we all have for Derek Jeter after a game
against the Yankees, I’ll tell you how much I can’t
stand looking at his face. Because that’s what fans
really say, and that’s how I really feel. I’m not audi-
tioning for a spot at the Boston Globe. I also go to a
lot of games at Fenway Park, and will post here any
pictures or videos I shoot at Sox games.
I’m always getting questions about the name, The
Number One Place. People think I’m implying that
they should turn here first for everything Red Sox. I
hope so, but I’m not that arrogant. It’s actually an
ad-lib from the song that’s been played after every
Red Sox win at Fenway Park for about ten years
now, “Dirty Water” by the Standells. After the line
Boston you’re my home, the singer snarls, Aw,
you’re the number one place.
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith
But you should’ve known that, Red Sox Nation! Yes,
I know “Red Sox Nation” is now a copyrighted term
for a team-sanctioned fan club you have to pay to
get into. But I’ve been using it since “Red Sox
Nation” was just a term describing the team’s global
following of fans. The “official” RSN gives you some
good benefits, and I understand the ownership’s
desire to snatch up the popular title and market it,
but to me, that term will always stand for all the Sox
fans who have lurked in every town in the country—
even before the media noticed we were every-
where. That’s got nothing to do with the team’s suc-
cess. If it had, we would’ve given up a long time
ago. . .
Day-night doubleheader today against Toronto. I
smell a sweep.
MattySox said: Thanks for the update, I never knew
what the hell was going on here.
26Rings said: same old shit with you boston fans. one
title in a hundred yrs, it’ll be another hundred till you
win anuther. the usual boston choke is on, looks like
the yanks will win the al east again this year! go
ConnecticutSoxFan said: This is what I deal with, day
in, day out around here. The Red Sox could win the
next 30 World Series, and Yankee fans would still
make us out to be losers, and themselves winners:
“Sure, the Sox have more championships now, but
ours are classier.”
Jay said: Mr. 26rings, I see you’re still a little bitter
over 2004. You Yankee fans called us “chokers” my
whole life. Now that you guys have committed the
ultimate choke to us, maybe it’s time to lay off that
word. Three years later, it’s just as sweet: We were
down three games to none to you guys, came back
to win the American League Championship Series,
and then went on to win our first World Series in 86
years. I’d say “I know how you feel,” but I don’t—my
team never choked that bad. . . .
RebGirl said: Ouch! Good call, Jay. And just because
our huge lead has been cut to eight games, I’d
hardly say we’re “choking” anyway. By the way, Jay,
what’s with this “us” and “we” stuff? Do you think
you’re on the team?
Jay said: Reb, when a team has been part of your
family your entire life, you can refer to them as
“we,” heh. Just the way I was raised, I guess. I’m a
lifelong Sox fan, you know. My great-grandfather
learned to speak English listening to the Sox on the
Labels: Fenway Park, Red Sox Murder Mystery