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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Great Sunday at Fenway -- Despite the Final Score

Hope Weston waited a long time between trips to Fenway -- 75 years, to be exact. So when the 96-year-old great-grandmother finally made it back Sunday to the old ballpark that she had last visited when Jimmie Foxx batted cleanup for the Red Sox, I was honored that she did so after purchasing a copy of Fenway Park: The Centennial to help her down memory lane.

Mrs. Weston -- who wore a Red Sox shirt emblazoned with "Weston 96" on the back -- was just one of the many fans of all  ages and backgrounds encountered during Sunday's whirlwind book signing on Yawkey Way. During pre- and post-game sessions, the author inscribed copies for fans from North Dakota, Florida, California, Canada and many other locales of an ever-expanding Red Sox Nation.

After decades of customer loyalty to Twins Souvenirs (OK, it's called the Fenway Park Store or Yawkey Way Store now, but it will always be Twins to me), it was great to experience life on the other side of the counter doling out books to kids, parents, and kids at heart like Hope. She remembers watching games with her father while standing behind ropes on Fenway's outfield grass -- common practice when overflow crowds were allowed into the ballpark in the 1910s. "I'd have a hard time seeing over the hats and heads of men in front of me," she recalled with a wry smile, but, "but we were the envy of the peanut gallery in the bleachers."

The one-sided Red Sox loss that followed was frustrating, but the mass exodus by fans in the late innings did allow my son Jason to sneak down to a front-row seat next to the Red Sox on-deck circle. He's holding his own copy of Fenway Park: The Centennial, which we've now had autographed by Joe Morgan (who came to the Walpole signing) and Frank Malzone (who was also at Twins signing on Sunday morning).

The DeAngelo family that owns Twins was so happy with the signing that they bought up the remaining books and had me sign them too -- so if you stop by their store the rest of this season, be on the lookout. And while I didn't see Mrs. Weston after the game, I can only "Hope" that she fell asleep in the late innings and dreamed that the Red Sox came back to win. She deserved a victory more than any of us.

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