Today Daniel took me to a baseball game at the new Fenway Park.
“It opened just five days after the Titanic sank last spring,” I said as we approached the red-brick facade. “It's supposed to be state of the art. A real 20th century ballpark.”
Flanking the left side was a billboard with a picture of a covered wagon pulled by a team of horses advertised Sterling Ale. A flag pole on the roof pierced the sky, the stars and stripes flapping proudly. People, mostly men in dark suits, lined up in front of the gateway, and policemen on horseback patrolled the grounds.
After we slowly navigated our way in through the shuffling crowds we finally arrived at our seats, everything freshly painted and clean. Daniel had arranged very good spots for us in the top row on the aisle in Section ‘E’, just to the right of home plate down below. The diamond was breathtaking and much larger than I had imagined. The energy that emitted from the gathering of more than 10,000 souls was electric. Below us was a sea of fedoras and bowlers. I’d never been in a grouping of so many in one place before and the feeling was exhilarating. I wondered what it would be like to be one of the players who would be soon standing down below on the field. Would they be nervous or energized by the prospect of all those pairs of eyes watching every move?
“I heard that when the Red Sox are on a winning streak, this crowd can almost double in size,” I said. “Try to imagine that!”
"I admit it's hard to picture." Daniel said. “Boston Red Sox against Chicago White Sox? Rather unimaginative team names wouldn't you say?”
I grinned. “They’re not all named after male hosiery.”
He laughed, a deep, rich rolling sound I found I enjoyed listening to.
“Sometimes a woman can bring proper perspective,” I said jovially.
Daniel tipped the rim of his hat. “This I have found to be true on most points.”
He had a dimple in his cheek that made an appearance on rare occasions, and today was one of them. Daniel was making a genuine effort to win my heart since arriving from England. If I could go by the way my nerves tingled at his closeness—seated only inches from each other that in an exuberant moment might cause us to touch—I thought he might just succeed.
A tremendous roar erupted from the stadium as the Red Sox team jogged out on to the field. This was followed by applause as the last player made his way to the home team dugout.
“That’s Smokey Joe Wood.” I said, “Boston’s main pitcher. Only twenty-two years old and already a household name here in Boston.”
“Steady on. How is it that you know so much about all of this?” Daniel looked at me with an amused expression.
“Well, the recent opening of this stadium and the fact that our home team is doing well means that it’s reported on the front page of every Boston newspaper. I think it is fast becoming part of the Boston culture to be a baseball supporter. Even if you are woman.”
“Righto,” Daniel said. “I do like the game, although I much prefer cricket if I am going to play myself. I am after all, a proper Brit. Still, the atmosphere of a good baseball game is rather more invigorating as a spectator, I dare say.” His bright eyes again swept across the field as the visiting team jogged onto the field albeit to a much more subdued response from the crowd.
I was still mildly surprised at how easily Daniel and I slipped into a natural rhythm of conversation. I felt grateful that I could share this grand experience with someone who shared my curiosity and wonder. It was one of those moments that one might want to catch in a photograph and perhaps look at again in remembrance as years went by. Oh mercy, where was I going with that thought!
As the afternoon wore on we both found ourselves totally caught up in the game, even ordering a ‘Fenway Frank’ for each of us between one of the innings, which we ate with great delight taking care not to drop mustard onto our clothing. There was a thunderous applause when the game ended with a win for Boston at a score of 5-3. It took ages to get all of the fans cleared out, and by the time we strolled slowly through Kenmore Square the evening air began to cool and the lamplighters were starting to appear with their long poles and wicks to begin the evening lighting.
“That was frightfully enjoyable,” Daniel said after we walked in silence for a few minutes.
“I agree,” I said without a hint of hesitation. “Thank you so much for inviting me. Not a bad move, you know?" I couldn't stop myself from batting my eyelashes flirtatiously. "An Englishman accompanying a Boston woman to a baseball game.”
After a few more minutes he held out his arm and said, “May I?” I linked my arm through his as we continued strolling, smiling as we made our way along the cobblestone streets.
Daniel by my side was starting to feel altogether too agreeable.