As I approached Fenway last Friday night, I couldn't help but get into the holiday spirit. The organist was playing Christmas songs that echoed down Yawkey Way, and I entered through Gate B to find Wally the Green Monster taking pictures next to a huge Christmas tree decked out in Sox gear. It's a long offseason, so nights like these help ease the throes of winter.
I headed upstairs to the Royal Rooters meeting room, where John Farrell had just sat down to do an interview with Jerry Remy for NESN. I was waiting in a line, unsure of what I was waiting for, but it was much warmer in there than outside, so I couldn't complain. On the upstairs level you were able to take pictures with former and current players, and during my time up there I took pictures with Ryan Kalish and Chris Carpenter, as well as Jim Rice. It was painfully obvious that Jim didn't want to be there, but it was a nice surprise to see a Hall of Famer participating in festivities that are normally relegated to AAA guys that were late-season call-ups.
On the lower level beneath the Royal Rooters Club, tons of fans were digging through a treasure trove of old signage, t-shirts and memorabilia from years past. The room looked like it's normally used for storage, but on this night, it was a collector's flea market paradise of sorts. My budget keeps me from buying big-ticket items, but I figured I could find a few neat things to display in my baseball room on the cheap.
In the back of the lower level, players were signing autographs. It seemed like they were working in 30 minute intervals, rotating between autographs downstairs and photographs upstairs. I waited a few minutes to get in line until Kalish and Rice were there, as I needed both of them on cards but couldn't get them done upstairs. I didn't have any cards for Carpenter or Jerry Remy, so I had them each sign a pocket schedule from this past season.
After I went through the autograph line, I scoured the leftovers of the makeshift flea market and found a few affordable things. As I was going through a shirt rack, Ryan Lavarnway starting walking down the ramp towards the autograph tables. I was able to save myself the wait in line again and got him to sign a card right before he got to the tables. After that, I headed to the cashier to pay for my cheap memorabilia. Here's what I picked up:
- Blank Line-up cards- 2 for $1. One from a game vs. the Orioles at Fenway, another from a game vs. the Rangers in Arlington. Might be fun to try to get these signed by the starting line-up from each team of that game.
- Tigers Team Magnet- $10. I'm not a Tigers fan, but I thought this giant magnet would look cool with a single signature from a guy like Prince Fielder, or maybe as a team piece. Either way, it takes up a lot of real estate on the side of my refrigerator.
- Locker Room Nameplates- $1 each. These are slightly cheaper than the ones you'll find for the big names on the Red Sox. Sadly, these were the most recognizable names that I could find, but they still look neat above the door frames in my sports room. All three of them are free agents, so hopefully I can get them signed at some point. These could also be another nice fridge accessory.
- 1999 All-Star Game Photographer's Chair- $25. I know that a pair of authentic seats from Fenway are too big and too expensive for my current living situation, but I couldn't pass up a chance to have some sort of seat from the stadium, especially one for this cheap that can fold up.
I could only stay at the holiday for a few hours, as I had to meet my wife downtown for her company's Christmas party. Needless to say, she was less than enthused when I showed up in a nice suit with a dusty wooden folding chair and asked the coat check lady at the Langham to check my chair for me. Even though I had to carry it home on the train, I couldn't resist. And besides, it really ties the room together, man!