What a day! We began with a wonderful breakfast at the Buckminster Grille here in the hotel (Eggs Benedict for me, quesadillas – not bad for Boston – for Lauren). We visited, read the morning paper on our iPads, and then took off for the Freedom Trail.
The Freedom Trail runs for about 2 1/2 miles through the heart of Boston, beginning at Boston Common and culminating at Bunker Hill and Monument Square. The sites were beautifully maintained, and they reminded us of how blessed we are as a nation to enjoy our hard-won liberty of freedom. As I sat there at the base of the Bunker Hill Monument, eating the last of a tangy Lemon Chill, I was struck by the casualness with which we enjoy our freedom. Most of us who were visiting the historical monuments are inheritors of the freedom that was earned by our forefathers who sacrificed so much.
It wasn’t too much of a leap for me to think of how casually I celebrate the freedom I have due to the sacrifice of the Lord on my behalf. I didn’t earn it. It is mine (ours) as a gift which I receive by faith in His finished work on my behalf. There is so much for which we should all be thankful.
The monuments were great, and cause for some sober reflection. The people were even better. Along the Freedom Trail we met Mitch, who sold us the Lemon Chill. He grew up in that neighborhood, pointed out where he used to live, the school he attended, and regaled us with tales of his father’s close friendship with JFK, who began his political career in that neighborhood. Mitch said that if Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension gets reduced to two, then he will come visit us in Dallas (the Patriots play Dallas in game 4 of the season). I hope he gets to come. Mitch would love Texas and he would add some Boston color to our cultural landscape.
Our visit to Fenway – first on a tour of the park, then to the game that evening – was wonderful fun. Our guide, Joe told us story after story about the park and the luminaries who played and managed there. The “Curse of the Bambino” received its due attention, as did the wonderful story of “the lone red seat” in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21). That seat, painted bright red in a sea of green, signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. The home run, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946, was officially measured at 502 feet. According to Hit Tracker Online, the ball, if unobstructed, would have flown 520 to 535 feet. The ball struck a fellow named Joe Boucher in the head, penetrating his straw had, and then bouncing back. Boucher later said,
“ How far away must one sit to be safe in this park? [the standing answer to this day is, ‘503 feet’] I didn’t even get the ball. They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head, I was no longer interested. I couldn’t see the ball. Nobody could. The sun was right in our eyes. All we could do was duck. I’m glad I did not stand up.”
Right. That’s Boston, summed up in Joe’s last line. You can get pelted by cannon balls on Breed’s Hill (the location of Bunker Hill), get pummled by the press and the NFL for a slightly deflated football as a different kind of New England Patriot, or get smacked in the head by Ted Williams homerun baseball with your name on it. You get up smiling because – here’s the lesson – it coulda’ been worse.
The game was as good as it gets, at least for a Texas Rangers fan. We won a nail-biter in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1. The stadium was packed, the weather was crisp, and we were surrounded by the Red Sox Nation. It didn’t mean much in the way of significance in the standings, and it’s still early in the season, but I tell you – if felt like a playoff game. Fenway (“FANway?”) can get LOUD. Not once did I see one of those “Make Some Noise” or “Get Loud!” reminders flashing on the Jumbotron. They don’t need them at Fenway. They just ARE. LOUD. Very.
That included the colorful couple seated next to us. Chris and Tracy are long-time Red Sox fans, and were as friendly to us as I hope Rangers fans would be to them should the Sox be on the other foot, and they find themselves at the Globe in Arlington one day. But it’s hard to imagine those two rock-ribbed New Englanders transplanted, even for a short visit, to the comparatively tame environs of Texas. There’s something feral about Fenway in a tight game. Maybe that’s why Ted Williams – the greatest of the Red Sox pitchers – didn’t stay too long in Texas as the first manager of the Rangers. He lasted one disastrous year (54-100) and then hightailed it back to New England.
It was a rough season for Ted, but hey, it coulda’ been worse.
As for Lauren and me – our May 20th couldn’t have been better. Today – the 21st – is my 61st trip around the bases. The Lord has given me a great partner, wonderful kids, an amazing grandson, and a heritage of freedom in Christ and in my country that I try to honor with every swing of the bat. Thanks for reading. More tomorrow.