Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Planning A Trip To Fenway Park – What You Should Know

I have been a life-long Red Sox fan. Chase family legend insists that as a two year-old, I could recite the entire Red Sox line-up, which in those days included the likes of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio. So, it is no wonder that people often ask me about the logistics of getting Red Sox tickets and getting to Fenway Park. I do not have any special access to Red Sox tickets, but as a volunteer at Autograph Alley at Fenway Park, I do see a lot of games, and have made a number of observations about the best ways to navigate getting to Fenway and enjoying the game. What follows is a digest of my answers to frequently asked questions about seeing a ball game at Fenway Park.

How do I get tickets to a Red Sox game?

Bear in mind that Fenway Park is the smallest venue in Major League Baseball, and the Red Sox boast the second longest string of sold-out games in major league history. So, getting tickets is a challenge.

There are several options during the season using the Red Sox Website –

Click on the “Tickets” section of the home page, and you will see “Red Sox Replay.” This service allows season ticket holders to resell tickets to games they cannot attend. In addition, members of Red Sox Nation are occasionally given exclusive opportunities to make last-minute ticket purchases. Within the “Tickets” section, click on “Nations’ Nest Auction.”

At the ballpark, the Red Sox reserve a limited number of tickets to be sold the day of the game. These include obstructed view, single seats, standing room and tickets that the club has reserved for VIP’s and family and friends of players. Some of these are often returned to the Box Office minutes before game time. So, there are two tactics you may want to use to try to gain access to these day-of-game tickets. First, be in line when the ticket window opens at 9:00 AM. For popular games, like games against the Yankees, people have been known to sleep on the sidewalk outside the ticket office to be first in line. As a last resort, check at the ticket window 30-90 minutes before game time for last-minute returns.

Those with military ID’s can gain access to the park as standing room guests by paying $7.00. The line forms along Van Ness Street, near Gate B – which is outside of Right Field. Tickets are limited and the line usually stretches to several hundred people in length., eBay, and are all expensive on-line options for obtaining tickets.

And then there are the scalpers who scamper like cockroaches through the Fenway neighborhood beginning about two hours before the game. These vermin used to be confined to the Kenmore Square area, but they seem to have metastasized beyond the primary site to a larger area stretching from Massachusetts Avenue to the BU campus, and to the Fenway T stop on the Riverside Branch of the Green Line (D Line). You won’t have trouble recognizing them. They all look like rejects from the Witness Protection Program, and in true James Cagney fashion, they will accost you with their winsome and articulate pitch: “Buying? Selling? Got extras? Need tickets?” Starting point for negotiations if you are buying is at least 2-3x face value of the tickets – and more if the Yankees are in town. Beware. There is no guarantee that these are not counterfeit tickets.

Driving to Fenway vs. Public Transportation

I always take the T. Parking prices at the ballpark range from $30-$90! If you must drive into the city, there is a parking garage on Clarendon Street in Back Bay – right next to the Back Bay train station, that charges $9.00 for Fenway event parking! From there, on a nice day, it is a 15-minute walk to the park. Or, you can take the Orange Line two stops from Back Bay Station to Ruggles and then take the free shuttle bus to Fenway. See details in the link below.

If you are more familiar and more comfotable with the Green Line and Kenmore Square, walk two blocks to Boylston Street, and take the Green Line outbound (B, C or D trains) two stops to Kenmore.

If you are driving to Boston from the northeast, down Rte. I-95 or Rte. 1, drive to Wonderland in Revere and take the Blue Line into the city, changing at Government Center for the Green Line trains to Kenmore.

Coming down I-93, park at Sullivan Square in Somerville and take the Orange Line directly to Ruggles for the free shuttle bus.

From the West, park at Riverside in Newton Lower Falls and take the Green Line to Fenway and walk to the ballpark. Returning after the game, the Green Line outbound from Fenway Station is free!


Your backpacks will be searched at the gate of Fenway, and no outside drinks are allowed. You can bring in some food. The peanuts sold outside Gate A on Yawkey Way are much fresher than those sold inside the ballpark. The white bags are unsalted; the brown bags are salted. $4.00 per bag – but you can negotiate a discount on purchases of multiple bags!

Inside the ballpark, you can purchase Legal Seafood clam chowder at several stands, including one just behind the first base side of home plate.

I am not really much of a beer drinker, so I never buy beer at Fenway, but my friends tell me it is watered down and over-priced.


Getting the autographs of current players is very difficult. If you want a good chance at catching a ball during batting practice, arrive when the gates open – usually 90 minutes before game time, and make a beeline for the left field corner – Sections 31 and 32 – where the Left Field stands abut the Green Monster. Foul balls land here with regularity, and the players on the field also often throw balls to kids in the stands in this area.

At a recent game, my friend, John Simmons and his son, Johnny, caught a ball, and then made their way down to the area behind the Tampa Bay dugout. They were lucky enough to get the ball signed by Devil Rays young ace, Scott Kazmir.

There are always former players around and willing to sign autographs. Autograph Alley is located just inside the ballpark behind Luis Tiant’s Cuban Sandwich Shop on Yawkey Way. Luis is often at his shop signing autographs for those that buy his sandwiches. There is always a former player at Autograph Alley from 90 minutes before game time until about 15 minutes before the first pitch. The Red Sox give out free pictures of the player in his uniform during his playing days. Recent visitors to Autograph Alley have included Jim Lonborg, Johnny Pesky, Frank Malzone, Oil Can Boyd, Bill Lee, Rick Miller, Bill Monbouquette and Bob Montgomery.

Getting tickets and then getting yourself to “America’s Most Beloved Ball Park” is not easy, but it is worth the effort.

Go Sox!



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