2009-08-20 / News

Reporting from the front row

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

Box H50, row A1, seat 2: This is where I sat for a recent Red Sox game. It was the very front row, behind home plate. I don’t usually get such great seats so I told everybody I know to look for me on TV.

Life in the front row is exciting, although strange because everything that’s going on in the stands happens behind you. When the crowd does the “wave,” you really don’t even notice until you feel a strange breeze on the back of your head. Cotton candy and giant foam fingers are being passed back and forth, but none of that activity gets in the way of seeing the game. Taking photos was the best thing – I used the wall between the field and the seats as my tripod and got some terrific shots of the players.

Among the first things I noticed when the game started was the sound the ball makes when it hits the catcher’s glove. Once I got used to the loud smack, I could tell which were fastballs and which were change-ups just by listening. Both types of pitches looked incredibly fast from my perspective. In fact, some had such speed that I didn’t see them at all – just heard a sharp “thwop” in the glove.

When I’m watching on television, I can’t stand the people who sit in these home plate seats. If you watch baseball, you know the ones – they spend the whole game with their cell phones plastered to their ears, waving and grinning at the cameras in center field. For them, the game is all about “look at me.” Yikes. My phone chirped. It was my daughter texting me: “What r u weari

“A red shirt,” I texted back. “I think I saw you,” she replied. Meanwhile, “thwop.” I had missed a play.

I put the phone away.

A quick front-row observation: Kevin Youkilis’ head is shiny, while Dustin Pedroia’s bald pate has a matte finish.

There are some pretty good perks associated with sitting in the front row. The first is that we got a “Front Row Club” valet parking pass to the lot on the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street. We pulled the car in, a guy took it away. We looked up and there – not 50 feet away – was Gate D.

“Wow,” we said collectively.

Another perk is that the front row comes with food service. At the beginning of the game, they bring around printed menus and then come back in the second inning to take your order. You can run a tab and settle up by credit card at the end of the game.

While not exactly gourmet, the menu has items to keep most fans happy. Mini burgers with Vermont cheddar and fries were $9.85. A Maine lobster roll costs $18.20 and an Italian sausage grinder with peppers and onions goes for $7.10. For the health conscious, the menu includes a whole-wheat turkey wrap for $10.10 and there’s also a fresh fruit cup for $6.10. It was a very hot night – mid-80s at game time – so I went for a Green Monster mint ice cream. It was delicious!

I never realized this, but now that I am a first-row veteran I can report that the inside of the wall that separates the field from the stands is lined with flat-screen TVs. At the level of our knees, we were able to watch the NESN broadcast of the game and see all the replays.

Very cool.

Before the game, I was playing the “worst-case scenario game” in my head. Broken bats heading straight at me. Drunken fans spilling beer on my head. I had run through all the bad things that could possibly happen. I was ready. In the eighth inning, with two outs, a batter for the Tigers hit a pop-up foul. I followed it up, way up, until it was about 150 feet directly over me. Then I followed it down, down, until it was way too close. At that point, I put my arms up to protect my head and ducked behind my husband. Our friend, who goes by the nickname “the Falcon,” ducked behind my husband on his other side. I heard a terrifying clattering sound and got up the nerve to peek out in time to see the hulking form of Victor Martinez hanging over me with the ball in his glove. Inning over.

Moments later, a member of the Red Sox security staff came over to us and said, “On behalf of 38,000 fans, thank you for not interfering in that play.”

Interfering? I was petrified. Still, I remained unscathed, except for a racing heartbeat.

I don’t know if I’ll get another chance at front row seats, but I’m delighted to have experienced the view from the front. It’s pretty exciting.

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