A few minutes later, as Rachel and I gathered up our Fenway Franks and fries and headed to our [thankfully] covered seats high behind the plate in Section 17, I heard those two dreaded words: rain delay. An endless stream of whining and refreshment requests suddenly lay before me, but I reminded myself of the mom with four kids and hid my fears. The starting time had been pushed back to 2:05, and with a backpack of ammunition and a steely resolve, I vowed to myself that I would get through the next 35 minutes with my sanity intact.
“Let’s go exploring,” I told Rachel, as we headed out of the drizzle and into a long hallway leading to the outfield concourse. I had never noticed the glass display case featuring Red Sox artifacts that you pass along this jaunt, and I enjoyed showing her the still-crisp signatures of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Jimmy Foxx, and the rest of the 1941 Sox on a letter from Tom Yawkey to a 13-year-old fan. Further down the wall was a series of various Red Sox logos from decades past, and Rachel loved the smiling sock that had adorned the baseball cards of the ‘50s.
A few minutes later the game started, and the questions continued.
“Who’s winning?” (After Will Venable leads off the game with a home run off John Lackey)
“What’s an RBI?”
“Why did they build the Green Monster?”
“Why are there so many ads on it?”
“Want to smell my cast?”
“How old are all these guys? Older than you?”
Her next inquiry offered a teaching moment.
RACHEL: “Why are there two guys on first base?”
DAD: “Well, one is the first basemen, and one is the runner.”
RACHEL: “No, two Padres.”
DAD: “Oh, one is the first base coach.
RACHEL: “No he’s not.”
DAD: “Yes he is, honey.”
RACHEL: “Then why does he have a uniform on? Coaches don’t wear uniforms.”
After starting to correct her, I realized that her frame of reference was her own softball team, on which the coaches wear shorts and faded tee-shirts. Score another one for the kid.
Two snacks and a bottled water later, Rachel asked to go to the bathroom. We luckily found a family restroom right behind our section, but no sooner had we settled back down in our seats when she announced she wanted a “Cool Dog” – an ice cream sandwich that resembles a hot dog. I told her we would stop the next vendor who passed through our section with them, but this was like mentioning a no-hitter in progress: after seeing several of them before her request, we never saw another. And when the rains returned in the fourth – prompting another nearly 40-minute delay – I decided we would go in search of a Cool Dog.
When the game resumed in the top of the fourth the Padres quickly scored four runs thanks largely to two walks, two hit batsmen, two hits, and a wild pitch allowed by Lackey. When Tito finally came out and removed the shell-shocked hurler, the crowd cheered derisively. This led to another probing Q&A with my companion:
RACHEL: “Why are they cheering if he didn’t pitch well?”
DAD: “Well, actually they are cheering because he’s coming out of the game.”
RACHEL: “But that’s not nice. He probably feels bad.”
The Sox were soon down 5-0, and when the rains (and the third rain delay) returned in the fifth I figured we could pass the time with a game of hangman. Rachel wanted to choose the riddle, and what she thought up brought a smile to my weary face: “W-E A-R-E N-O-T L-E-A-V-I-N-G.” Most other fans lacked such resolve, and after the Red Sox had gotten back one run and left what seemed like 20 men on base, the skies opened up yet again in the eighth – sending most of the remaining spectators for the exits.
We stuck it out by heading to The Red Sox Store (I still call it “Twins”) across the street and buying a Dustin Pedroia figurine as an early birthday present, and when we got back inside the ballpark it was practically empty. We headed down to the box seats, and were set to watch the rest of the game from the front row when it was called off for good.
“We didn’t win, did we?” Rachel asked as we trekked through the puddles to our car. “No,” I said, but deep inside I knew better. There were only a handful of people left at Fenway after more than six hours of on-again, off-again baseball, and I saw none younger than her. She had gutted it out like her old man.