July 1, 1998
Montreal Expos at Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Above is the box score for this game. This article will talk about the game itself (it is a fond memory of mine) but I also want to bring up this game because it gets into the heart of some of the reasons why I love baseball.
July of 1998. I had just recently turned 17. I was a teenager, so with that I absolutely was overly-annoyed by every single thing about my parents. Maybe all 15-17 year olds are like that; I certainly was. I knew everything there was to know about everything useful in my life, and my parents were old and not-cool. I'm positive I also annoyed them to no end for these years, as is fairly common within a relationship between parents and their teenage children. I also know this was around the time my life when depression began, so I will also state that depression absolutely had an affect on my personality from age 17-21. More on that at another time (and I just chuckled in my head for saying more-on.)
This vacation my family took, in the summer of 1998, was to the east coast. I grew up in a suburb of St. Paul, MN and have spent most of my life in and around the Twin Cities. Going to the east coast was an exciting venture, or at least it should have been, had I not been 17 and miserable. My dad still jokes about how none of the rest of the family (my mom, my sister and I) wanted to eat mussels or go to the Newport, RI Blues festival together, but we all did go whale watching one of the days. Now as a 36 year old, I would kill to do this trip again with my family. All of those things I love now (seafood, live music, hiking and nature) but my life as a 17 year old was basically as a different human being. I'm certainly happy with who I am as a person, but I do know that adult/current me would have experienced this vacation differently.
The one thing I still got excited about, even with family at that time was baseball. I remember the entire trip being ecstatic over the idea of seeing a game at Fenway Park. All the history and romance of the sport. The historical nature of seeing a game from the same location that all of the greats have played. Comparing it with my baseball experience of watching games at the Metrodome was akin with comparing a Monet or a Picasso to well, a stadium with a garbage-bag roof on top as well as fan that blows really hard some of the time. Good memories though, but not the same. This was a first once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.
The day of the game we attended was July 1st. That morning and throughout the day it stormed in and around Boston. I was really bummed thinking we wouldn't be able to make it, but come 5pm the rains had subsided and our family drove near the ballpark. My mom went up to the ticket window and asked for whatever the best 4 tickets were available. This was pre-Boston actually being a winning team, so we were amazed when my mom came back to the car with 4 seats about 15 rows behind home plate (leaning more towards the first base side of home plate if memory serves correct.) Getting to our seats was fun, as the park was drenched and all of the staff were out en masse wiping down seats from the storm that had now passed through. I remember using a LOT of napkins/paper towels to help wipe down my mom's seat specifically, but I also remember not caring much about the water that was left on my seat. Wet pants for a little while be damned, we were all about to take in some baseball!
I don't remember many plays specifically from that night, but the box score above does jog my memory a little. I do remember the Expos (they were one of my "other" teams, after the Twins.) I do remember Dustin Hermanson starting for the Expos, and he sticks out to me as I remember playing as him in video games and emulating his pitching motion a lot in the late 1990's. I remember Vlad Guerrero being larger than life, as well as most of the Boston fans and their reaction to specific players leaving a positive impression. I remember the NOMAR chants and the love their fans for him felt similar to the KIRBY chants that happened back in Minnesota. Looking on down the box score, I do recall John Valentin hitting a double off the green monster at some point in the game, which was awesome! Mo Vaughn not playing in this game, while being replaced at 1B by Reggie Jefferson and DH by Midre Cummings was disappointing, and also a unicorn that year as he played in 154 of the other 161 games in 1998. Former Minnesota Twins #1 overall draft pick and then Red Sox pitcher Bret Saberhagen threw 7 strong innings for the win, giving up 3 hits, 1 run, 0 walks and including 5 k's. He was 34 in 1998. For the Expos along with Vlad; Rondell White, Mark Grudzielanek and Brad Fuller were players I remember fondly, yet all played and were hitless this day. I also see the attendance as 24,923, which was slightly below their home average that year of 28,577 (https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/attend.shtml) so being that it rained that day is no surprise. I also see that the game lasted 2 hours an 36 minutes, which feels fast now with Montreal using 4 pitchers and Boston using only 2. Also, did I mention the game was played in Boston?!?! A game under 3 hours, in Boston, doesn't feel as if it could have taken place. The average game in 2017 was about 3 hours and 5 minutes. The game I saw was a sprint in comparison. https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2017/04/17/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/MLB-Time-of-Play.aspx
My recollection of this game, this vacation, this time with my family when I was still in my teens is one of the many reasons I feel like baseball is a beautiful thing. From about age 17 through about age 21 or so I had a real fight with mental illness and depression. I will write more specifically about that at another time, but one of the memories I had of that time of my life is that I would not be able to read a page of a fun book, a text book, an advertisement in a magazine et al and comprehend/remember what I had just read. I don't have physical memories of the whale watching or most of the rest of that trip itself because I wasn't physically able to appreciate it at that time. I do have memories of baseball and that baseball game, as well as sharing that time with my family. I appreciate those moments. Baseball helped to bring out family together, even if for just that one day about 20 years ago. Baseball is good.