Supposedly one’s introduction to a Red Sox game at Fenway is always the splendor of the grass. The fan walks up the ramp from the park’s dingy bowels into the glorious green of an outfield so immaculate it appears to have been mown by God.

This was not my initial memory of Fenway as a 7-year-old on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 16, 1958, when my dad took me to my first game.

I was just awed and overwhelmed by the size of the parking lot, as Dad, Grandpa, and I stood next to our sedan. I’m sure I held onto Dad’s hand as he skillfully guided me out of this maze of cars toward the brick façade of Fenway.

I remember that we didn’t sit near the field, so I wasn’t able to appreciate the intimacy of a pitch thwacking into a catcher’s mitt. But we were close enough for me to easily spy the “9” on Ted Williams’ jersey when Dad announced that Ted was batting in the first inning.

Ted was the main attraction for me that day. I had learned of his hitting prowess from Dad. On the visiting Yankees, I’m sure Dad pointed out their great centerfielder, Mickey Mantle. Mickey homered that day, but Ted was hitless.

I don’t remember much else about my first in-person Red Sox game with Dad, except that it was also a rare Saturday afternoon outing with him, as he mostly conducted his dental practice in the morning and then came home and hopped into his car with Grandpa for an afternoon at the horse track.

The bookend dates for Dad’s and my joint attendance at Fenway are Aug. 16, 1958, to July 1, 1997.

Unlike the 1958 game, I purchased the tickets to the 1997 game; I was concerned with Dad, at 78, having a comfortable experience while crammed into the left field grandstand seats on a humid July night.

Dad was actually in good shape for his age, but his age did make the overall visit to Fenway “a schlep,” and I believe that 1997 game was his last visit to the valley of the Green Monster.

Our last game together was, appropriately for Dad, against the National League’s Florida Marlins in the inaugural year of interleague play. Thus, Dad, whose childhood years featured outings to see the National League’s Boston Braves, appropriately ended his live baseball viewing with a National League rival.

Besides this twist, the 9-2 Red Sox victory was nothing special. Dad and I surely exchanged equally knowledgeable opinions about the Sox’s performance, though maybe my memory for names exceeded his. Unlike in 1958, he didn’t have to point out who was coming up to bat.

By the time Dad threw his 90th birthday party in his senior living clubhouse, his entertainment was watching TV sporting events, featuring probably 100 or so televised Red Sox games. Most of our phone conversations were Red Sox driven:


“Bill, are you watching the game?”

I would get a little defensive and say, “I just finished eating. I’ll put it on soon.”

“You should have seen that young guy bare-hand a bunt and throw that A-Rod out.”

“What young guy?”

“You know, the third baseman. The Jewish guy.”


“Yeah, Youkellis. What’s the matter — you should be watching.”


Usually the conversation ended after the above typical exchange. We didn’t have much to talk about besides the ballgame, and I didn’t want to meander through conversations with him, as I didn’t quite feel that obligation.

This ungenerosity caused me pangs of familial guilt. I did love him, but our worldviews and personalities clashed just enough for me not to be a most dutiful son.

Dad died in early November 2013, just a few days after the Red Sox won their eighth World Series. He was born in 1918, the year the Sox won their fourth World Series in five years, so his life was bookended by Sox success.

I miss him, but I still have Dad’s and my ticket stubs from game two of the 1967 World Series vs. the Cardinals. The tickets, for seats right behind the Red Sox dugout, are still the best tickets I’ve ever had.

Indeed, those tickets evoke a triple crown of wonderful memories: a World Series game, a one-hitter by Sox pitcher Jim Lonburg, and, most importantly, Dad’s choice to take me to this epic event, instead of my mom or one of his sports-loving cronies.

On that day, Oct. 5, 1967, Fenway’s ancient, cramped seats had Dad and me shoulder to shoulder, close both physically and emotionally.


Bill Levine is a retired IT professional and active freelance writer. Bill aspires to be a humorist because it is easier to be pithy than funny. He may be reached at

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