By Anne Thompson, NBC News correspondent and Clare Duffy, NBC News producer
Editor's Note: Anne and Clare, both proud citizens of Red Sox Nation, filed twin blogs after last night's game at Fenway Park. Here's Anne's:
The first question asked of any Red Sox fan this week is "Do you have World Series tickets?" If the answer is "yes," the next question is "Where are they?"
Through the good graces and bad luck of Burbank senior producer Mike Mosher, he gave his two tickets to the World Series to producer Clare Duffy and me. We are all lifelong members of the Red Sox Nation.
Like two giddy kids, Clare and I entered Fenway Park last night through gate C, climbed the ramp of Section 42 and up the stairs to Row 50, seats 5 and 6. That would be the last row in the right field bleachers, our seats right under the "F" of the Ford logo.
Last night, they were the best seats in the house. We were there. We had a perfect view of the field to watch Big Papi, Manny, Beckett, and Dustin Pedroia pound the Rockies. We could hear the Sox's "dugout band" play. We joined the chant of "Fran-cis" as the Nation taunted Rockies pitcher, Jeff Francis. And we sang "Sweet Caroline" at the top of our lungs delaying Kevin Youkilis' last plate appearance. It was heaven.
One of the things I love about baseball is how it connects your past and present, and last night was no exception. Carl Yastrzemski and 19 other members of the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Sox were there for the first pitch. As a fifth grader in Boston, I wrote essays about Yaz and the '67 Sox for my English midterm exam. Years later, knowing Yaz's Triple Crown winning statistics (.326 battting average, 44 home runs, 121 runs batted in) would help me convince a reluctant Fay Vincent, the former baseball commisioner, to do an interview. And now, I would watch Yaz throw out the first pitch of my own impossible dream, seeing the Red Sox play in the World Series at Fenway.
The best, of course, was the outcome...13 to 1. While many of those in prime seats left early, the faithful in the bleachers stayed through rain and wind until the last out. We sang "Dirty Water" and "Tessie" and slowly walked down the stairs.
Finally at eye level with the field, Clare and I, like many others, stopped to take pictures. Strangers handed each other their cameras so everyone could capture that special moment, that impossible dream.
It was a wonderful game and a memorable night. As we sang..."Love that Dirty Water. (bump..bump...bump) Boston you're my home!"
If there's one subject in the world of sports that has been responsible for more miles of column length, more hot air on television, more books, documentaries and other pop culture ephemera, it's Red Sox Nation.
So what's one more blog from two exhausted but happy fans?
My colleague Anne Thompson and I are both devout members of the Nation, having grown up in suburban Boston. Never, though, had either of us been to a World Series game at Fenway, such opportunities coming along only rarely. Through fortune smiling on us in the form of a like-minded colleague who could not use his tickets, I found myself speeding to Boston on a train yesterday afternoon to meet Anne with the precious tickets in my kung fu grip. I kept thinking it was too good to be true, peering at them obsessively, trying to divine if they were counterfeit.
Getting off the train at South Station, it was like the air had changed - everywhere were Sox hats, jerseys, jackets, signs, flags. And something else - swagger. Boston fans are not known for ever being shy about expressing themselves, but with the 2004 World Series win in their back pockets, these are fans who have been here before. Indeed, in the last few years, Boston has become almost used to victory, be it at Fenway or down at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, where Bill Belichick's Patriots are almost ho-hum in their relentless dismantling of any opposition. In the words of one scribe, "Welcome to Trophytown." Somehow the chip-on-the-shoulder bitterness that underpins the id of any true Red Sox fan is almost unseemly now, what with the second highest payroll in baseball, and an organization that fully expected to be playing this late into October.
That still doesn't mean the "Yankees s**k" t-shirts don't fly off the shelves.
Anne and I got to the park just as the jet flyover happened, walking through the streets of Back Bay. As we made our way to our seats, we quickly realized we were in the absolute last row of the bleachers in right field. Any further and we'd be out on the street. But for us, they were the best seats in the house - the bleachers are the province of the true fan. The corporate types, those that treat the World Series as just another event that's fun to say you were at, sit elsewhere. Indeed, two Fenway season-ticket holders sat in front of us, having been evicted from their usual seats for the Series so their seats could be sold for top dollar. But no matter, we were now all bleacher creatures - yelling at the top of our lungs, thrilling to a lead-off home run by rookie Dustin Pedroia, high-fiving as the Red Sox juggernaut rolled on. It is no exaggeration to say there was nowhere else we would rather have been.
As the game blew open, it became less fun to jeer at the hapless Colorado pitching staff so the bleacher folk left off doing that, and started jeering the vendor selling rain ponchos - apparently buying rain garb is a sign of weakness. There's that swagger again. I wondered, who are these people? These are not the craven Boston fans I remember, cringing, waiting for collapse. As Anne and I sang along to "Sweet Caroline" - late inning tradition at Fenway - I couldn't help but think, it can't be this easy. And it won't be. Boston fans have a few more hours to savor the flavor because the Rockies aren't likely to let last night happen again.
Welcome to Trophytown, indeed.