In the days when Jonathan Papelbon slowly readied himself to deliver the last strike in the ninth, Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy would gravely announce, "They are on their feet in Fenway." He and NESN'S Don Orsillo often had a whimsical give-and-take that amused the two of them even more than their listeners. Thus, one evening, as Papelbon took his usual long time to create a pitch, Orsillo said something supposing Remy would make his usual comment. Remy's rebuke was to remain silent.
Some weeks later, when that crucial moment presented itself, Remy's response came. "They stand as one at Fenway," he intoned. The two broadcasters could not stop laughing, and regular TV fans laughed with them. And so the new phrase took its place as the familiar comment when the last of the ninth was upon us.
But standing as one at Fenway is an anytime event. Few things match the experience of being at a Red Sox game when the fans are at their best. At a water polo match at Greenwich (Conn.) High School just before the World Series started, we went a little nuts yelling while grandson Sam helped his team win the weekend's championship. The sound was loud, contained by the limited space around an indoor pool. Back at Sam's house, the small crowd made amazing noise when the Red Sox took the pennant. But neither compared to the roar at Fenway four days later.
You have to wonder what it's like to be Adam Wainwright in the midst of all that clamor. Do opposing pitchers hear it or block it out? Even the best of ear plugs couldn't obliterate what Red Sox Nation can do when it's gathered on its home turf. And we were there, second time this year, when the Red Sox bats were all fired up.
I always said I never wanted to sit in the home-run destination monster seats or near that left field jog that puts spectators in line for hard-hit line drives. With no desire to catch an errant ball, I was sure I'd spend the day in trepidation, rather than rejubilation. But there we were, only 12 rows up from the field, smack opposite the jog. The grandsons assured me they'd catch whatever came, and I said I'd be of no use. My goal was to be on the floor, preferably sheltered by their parka-bulked bodies. And then with the excitement of that first game, I forgot all about the odds of being hit in the head.
Instead, we were on our feet at Fenway, rising as one at Fenway, over and over. We flew up so many times that my recalcitrant knee had no time to stiffen or consider an inconsiderate buckle.
Electronically, Fenway is a maze of information. Replays are on the big board, the words for "Sweet Caroline" hang over the bleachers, lights constantly tell the number of pitches, the ERAs, the number of times a hitter hits with a second baseman on third and just about everything else you'd want to know -- except that a soda will cost you $5. When I went to Fenway during World War II, we had no visuals.
Game 1 was a grand night. We listened to the guy behind us asking the woman next to him, a stranger, more questions than she'd get in a job interview. We watched a fan in front of us don his see-through Pedroia face, until he lost his stolen seat to the people who displaced him in the fourth inning. We observed security walking, walking, walking -- one of them labeled "alcohol surveillance security." We noticed many beards on the ground crew.
And we yelled. My throat hasn't felt so abused since high school cheerleading days. Whatever happens next -- even with the haunting Game 3 -- Game 1 was marvelous.
Ruth Bass has been a Red Sox fan since Bobby Doerr days. Her website is www.ruthbass.com.