Where do we begin. There are so many amazing things we experienced in Boston beginning on the first day we arrived. Weston wanted to go over and wait in the limo area in hopes that a limo would just happen to stop and pick us up. Unbeknownst to the kids, courtesy of Tom, a limo was on its way to take us to our hotel. They were so excited to step into the limo and taste the snacks and have a good time riding to the hotel. We checked into our hotel, and as requested we got rooms with an awesome view of Fenway. What an awesome way to start the trip, looking down on Fenway and knowing the next day we would be there. We decided to take a stroll and try an sneak a peek into the park. We walked all the way around, taking photos on our way and stopping by the famous Ted Williams statue. The boys all wanted a picture of course. Mason wanted a picture under famous number 27. We walked along Yawkey Way admiring everything there was to see and knowing that we were walking down streets of gold....or at least through our eyes thats what it seemed.
We had a duck tour booked that day and hurried to the Prudential Center. We zoomed through the streets of Boston getting our first taste of Boston drivers and Boston jay walkers. We have never heard more people honk in our lives. Knowing that Sunday we would be driving among all these Bostonians was kind of a scary thought. We drove by all the famous sights and were in awe of all the history that took place in Boston. The best part was the dive into the water. As we cruised the Charles River our Duck guide offered anyone that wanted to drive an official WWII vessel the opportunity behind the wheel. Chris was up first, then Weston, then Mason. Laurie was brave enough to try her hand behind the wheel.
The best meal we had in Boston was to be had that night. Al Valenti met us at Pizzaria Regina for a real treat. Not only were we eating in the oldest pizzaria in Boston, but in our opinion we had the best pizza we have ever had in our lives. The owner Richie, of Regina's was one of the many nice people we met in Boston. He took us back to see the brick oven, treated the boys to some Boston Bruin gear, and even gave us souvenir menu's to take home......Do you think they will deliver to Salt Lake?!?!
Al graciously walked us back to the T Station. On the way he showed us Valenti Rd, named after his grandfather. Climbing back on the T, we had all sorts of help from more than helpful Bostonians making sure we got back to our hotel. We settled in for the night all the boys excitedly talking about the pizza we ate and excitement about the game tomorrow......boy were they in for a surprise.
At the advice of Tom, and knowing what a big day we had ahead of us, we slept in the next day. We walked down the streets of Boston to the Busy Bee diner and had a huge delicious breakfast. We came back to the hotel to take it easy for a little while, before meeting Tom and friends. We came downstairs and got the honor of meeting a lot of the people that were responsible for making this trip happen. Tom, his family, Cyn (www.redsoxchick.com), Kelly & Stan Grossfeld. Stan is a two time pulitzer prize winner for photo journalism and had asked to chronicle our amazing game night. We were so honored that Stan would want to write about our family and our experience in Fenway. As photos started shooting by Kelly, who graciously donated her services to chronicle the night for us, and Stan, Tom sat down to tell the boys what exactly was going to happen.
Link to Stan's story http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2008/09/04/a_promise_kept/
Link to Stan's photo gallery http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/09_04_08_grossfeld_sox/
He began talking about the game and that we needed to make sure that they were properly outfitted. First thing on the list was a stop at the Yawkey store. He then proceeded to ask if they wanted to meet a baseball player at all, the boys looked at Tom like, well yeah! Tom began to explain that a certain player with a famous bloody sock wanted to meet the boys. Knowing exactly who Tom was talking about, the boys became extremely excited. This wasn't the end either. Tom proceeded to tell the boys that we would then have a VIP tour of Fenway and get to go down on the field to watch batting practice. Their seats would also be about 3 rows back from the Red Sox on deck circle. By now the boys are jumping up and down and cannot believe that all of this is happening to them.....and it wasn't over. After batting practice, Mason and Weston would then be escorted to the dugout where they would be the official honorary bat boys for the night. They would get to help the actual bat boy for the Red Sox prep the dug out by fetching helmets, rosin bags, and bats. They would also be up close and personal to the players as they ran by back into the locker rooms. No promises that they would stop, but everyone had high hopes. The boys were so excited, it was almost like watching the shocked look of a little kid at Christmas time who just got the present he never thought he would get in a million years, but just a little bit better.
Tom then proceeded to present the boys with gifts that came from all sorts of people. 2007 World Series balls along with Sharpies to have handy in case of any autographs. 3 beautifully framed photos of Fenway in the early 1900's. One of the gifts we were most honored to receive was hats & photos of the USS Benfold with a personal message and signature from Commander Tom Disy. On the main halyard flew the colorful flags representing each of the boys names. They had been beautifully framed so that the boys would have that forever. They also received a book in which Stan Grossfeld and Dan Shaughnessy chronicled the history of the Red Sox. It was signed with love by both authors. Traci was also handed a couple of envelopes. In each envelope was the amazing efforts of the fundraiser that so many contributed to with all their hearts. There was also a large handful of cash, to buy icecream for the boys....it truly would have bought A LOT of ice cream. So many unbelievable things, and the day was not even close to being over.
As a group we all went over to the Yawkey store. The boys excitedly went over to pick out jersey's of their favorite players. All the flashes going on got people curious, and people were talking. Traci and all the boys got the feeling of being super stars. The owner of the store came over to see if we were finding everything. Chris felt bad they couldn't find any Schilling jersey's. The owner said he would see what he could do, and came back with 4 Schilling t-shirts and gave each of the boys one. With tears in his eyes, he told Tom there would be no charge. I guess just seeing little boys with a true love for baseball and appreciation for everything everyone was doing for them was enough. We will be forever grateful to him for the happiness he provided to all of us.
Our entourage then walked over to gate D to meet up with Susan. She excited gave hugs all around and proceeded to hand out Curt Schilling Rookie cards. I explained to everyone that Susan was the person who made the connection with Curt for us. The boys were in awe that Susan would be able to do that for them. We met our escort and half of us went down to the field, and the other half were escorted up to the media room. Our escort allowed the boys to try on his World Series Ring he had received in thanks for his employment at Fenway. Hardly able to stand still we waited in the hallway. As we were escorted in, each of the boys jaws dropped and they stared in awe and wonder at the commanding presence before them. With a wide smile on his face, there stood Curt Schilling. He graciously spoke to Traci first, telling her he was sorry for her loss and then shifted his attention to the boys. He waved the boys over, playfully guessing which boy was which. He proceeded to sign everything they asked him too and taking his time with each one of them. He also had official jerseys that he personalized for each boy and signed. Traci quietly went up to Curt to show him a photo of James in his helicopter. With a catch in her voice, she explained who it was in the photo and asked Curt if he would sign. He looked at her with genuine compassion and asked if instead he could keep the photo. He posed for many photos with all of the family. (We will post some of these later, Kelly is in process of organizing the photos which she took.) Before leaving, Curt asked if the boys had any questions for him. They all just still looked at him with their jaws open. Laurie then said, "Come on Chris, you are a pitcher, don't you want to ask one of the best pitchers in baseballs history the secret to pitching?" Chris looked at her and said "Mom.....throw hard and over the plate." Curt laughed and said that was exactly right. Curt was one of the nicest people that I have ever met. You could tell that he really loved kids and was genuinely glad to be there to meet James's boys. He took the time out of his busy schedule to help aid in bringing some happiness to some very sad little boys, and he accomplished what he set out to do. It is a kindness we will never be able to thank him enough for. Mason, Weston, Jackson, & Chris (Laurie's son) all very proudly display the balls which he signed front row on their dressers in their rooms.
We were then escorted down to the field. We all held our breath as we walked up the hallway and all of a sudden everything opened up and their was Fenway in all it's glory. As much as I have read about people's first reaction seeing Fenway, I was not prepared for the emotion that would overwhelm me. To know that people from so long ago walked through these exact halls crowding in to see America's favorite past time and root on their team. I took a deep breath and wiped the tears starting to form from my eyes. I closed my eyes and could see my brother James standing their with me, whispering in my ear, "I told you it was beautiful" and telling me how proud he was that we were all here in honor of him.
I watched as the boys excitedly ran down to the field and took those first steps onto that sacred dirt. They watched as their favorite players stepped up to their turn of batting practice and jogging around the bases. Stan was right by our side and proceeded to go over and start whispering in players ears, telling them about why these boys were here to see their favorite players play their favorite sport. He hurried over and grabbed Mason, Weston, and Chris. He had them duck under the security line and walked them over to meet Mike Lowell, he talked to each boy and signed their balls for them and hats. Mason's favorite player walked over next, Dustin Pedroia, and took his time with the boys, signing balls and placing his hands on Mason's shoulders and signing his #15 Jersey. They then went back and Mason and Weston were taken back over to the dug out to do their jobs as the Honorary bat boys. Stan again worked his magic, Jonathan Papelbon came over and Jacoby Ellsbury sat with them and put his arms around them posing for a photo. All the boys were up on cloud nine and not coming down anytime soon. They helped fetch helmets and bats, afterword Mason ran up to me and made me feel his hands as he excitedly told me that this is how hands feel after holding the rosin bag.
Mason and Weston were then escorted over to home plate where they posed with Wally and waved at a crowd of thousands all cheering for them as they were announced as the honorary bat boys for the night and their smiling faces large as life up on the jumbo tron!
We all then went to take our seats to watch a fantastic game. Not only was their lots of action on the field, but the Red Sox ended up winning 8 to nothing. We all stood up for the 7th inning stretch singing 'Take me out to the ball game' with everyone. My personal favorite part of the game was singing 'Sweet Caroline' it blew me away to be there amongst the crowd and hearing all of these thousands of fans singing every word at the top of their lungs. We bought rally monkeys, hot dogs, nachos, drinks, and of course ice cream. And stood up to sing Dirty Water after the last out. The cheer that went up through the crowd still sends chills through me.
We then went over to the food court by Gate B. The excitement we all felt that we were going to be able to put our arms around the people that made this whole trip possible, is beyond words. Tears, hugs, and laughter were shared all around.
We want all of you to know that James was there with us. His boys felt him and expressed to many that their dad was there.....over the John Hancock sign watching us. To know that James and his sons still have that vital connection is one of the most important miracles that took place that night. Tragedy brought us all to Boston, but baseball is what brought us all together. I have heard that once you make a friend in Boston you have made a friend for life. We look forward to many years to come with our new friends, no our new family, in Boston.
We will never be able to express how much this whole trip meant to us. This was something that James was not able to finish. He had his plans in place to experience Fenway with his sons, but those plans were not to be. He never got the chance to sit with them in the stands enjoying that questionable hot dog and laughing and talking with fans and watching their favorite players take the field.(James and the boys July 4th 2007)
All our love! More to come about the rest of our trip.