Boys of Summer II

Jonah Webb – Finance and Math Combined Major, DMSB/COS ’21, Waterville, Maine

My dad loved reading me books before bed growing up: classic literature, from Where the Red Fern Grows to The Catcher and the Rye. One of the books that stuck with me the most was The Boys of Summer, where author Roger Khan chronicles his childhood and writing career following the Brooklyn Dodgers. I still vividly remember my dad and I laughing and crying together throughout the read, consumed by Khan’s writing and our love of the game of baseball. Just over a decade later, during my third year at Northeastern University, I lived my own version of Boys of Summer, following the 2018 Boston Red Sox.

Nestled into the Fenway neighborhood, less than a ten-minute walk from Northeastern’s campus is Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. Whether you’ve never seen a baseball game in your life, cheer for the arch-rival New York Yankees, or are a Red Sox season ticket holder, it’s always a special occasion visiting Fenway Park. One thing every Boston-area college student should know before moving in: students can get into every game for just $9! While I had been taking advantage of this deal since my freshman year, it was my third year at Northeastern, on my first co-op, where this story begins.

It was a hot and muggy Sunday toward the end of June, 2018, when I moved into Loftman Hall to begin my third year at Northeastern. The fall semester wouldn’t begin for another two months, but I was about to start my first co-op, working full time as a financial administrator at Wellington Management Inc. After my parents unloaded all my belongings and said their goodbyes, I was off to Fenway Park, settling back into Boston the best way I knew how! I hadn’t been to a Sox game since back in early April, when I celebrated my 21st birthday with a thrilling Red Sox versus Yankees game, with the temperature at first pitch just above freezing (having turned 21 at Fenway, I was amazed to find that my $9 student ticket was actually cheaper than the price of beer inside the stadium!). Anyway, back to this afternoon in June, much warmer than April, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was on the mound, and fans were treated to another spectacular outing: 7 shutout innings and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win. I was happy to be back in Boston.

Unlike the traditional college experience, co-op allows students to live the life of a young professional! When you clock out of work at 5:00pm, the rest of the night is yours! Being the baseball fan that I am, I decided to spend a good chunk of that free time at Fenway Park. When the Mariners left Boston, in came the Los Angeles Angels, and I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night watching the Sox sweep the Angels, each victory as exciting as the previous. After a 10-day road trip for the Sox, I went to the next 4 games home games in July, another sweep of the Texas Rangers, followed by a win against the Toronto Blue Jays. Alas, on Friday, July 13th, I had a scheduled game of poker with some friends at Northeastern and ended up missing the Sox game – which ended up being their first home loss since I had moved into Boston for my co-op. Sure enough, the next afternoon I was back at Fenway for the game, and treated to a thrilling walk-off grand slam by Xander Bogaerts!

As the summer carried into the fall, I continued to go to more games than I missed, especially enjoying a 4-game sweep in early August against archrival New York Yankees. During one series against the Minnesota Twins, left fielder Eddie Rosario even played catch with me between innings to warm up his arm! As August turned to September, and the season came to a close, I had been to over 20 games, and the Red Sox were running away with the pennant, amassing a staggering 107 regular season wins. Now, I considered myself incredibly lucky to get into so many regular season games for just $9 with a student ID, but I thought for sure my luck would run out come playoffs. But sure enough, a limited amount of student tickets were still for sale at Gate E for every home playoff game.

After a stunning 4 game Divisional Series win against the New York Yankees, the defending World Champion Houston Astros came to Boston, and promptly won game 1 7-2. Before game two, I decided to show up early and try to score a batting practice home run over the Green Monster and onto Landsdowne Street. While this effort was unsuccessful, about halfway through batting practice, I got the text alert on my phone ‘Student Tickets Available Tonight’. I rushed to Gate E, and sure enough, got inside Fenway Park for $9, and watched the Red Sox tie the series back up at one to one! Amazingly, the Sox then went to Houston and won all three games, punching their ticket to the World Series.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018. Unseasonably, there were on and off thundershowers throughout Boston. Game One of the World Series was set to take place at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. All week, I had been refreshing the Red Sox Tickets website to no avail, my only chance at a ticket would be through Gate E, 2 hours before first pitch. As it was a workday, I had to be in the office, but three other friends and I agreed to take shifts, with the underclassmen not on co-op waiting outside Fenway to save us all a spot in line. At 10:00am, when my first friend arrived, there was already an impressive line. Then at noon, Red Sox ticket agents started handing out flyers, and said that only those with flyers would be able to purchase a ticket. I ended up taking a half day at work and rushing across Boston to join my friend in line and secure a flyer, making it just in time. We waited patiently for the next few hours; my underclassmen friend even worked on his computer science homework.

Finally, at 5:30, the gates opened up. We waited anxiously, aware that only 100 student tickets would be available. When we finally got to the front of the line and made it to the ticketing window, we were informed that we purchased the last 4 $9 student tickets. We were in! The rest of the night was certainly one of the best nights of my life. I can still hear James Taylor singing the National Anthem, and the fans erupting as Eduardo Nunez hit a clutch home run over the Green Monster. To this day, I haven’t tasted a beer as crisp as Sam Adams Octoberfest was that night, and to top the whole night off, Manny Machado of the Dodgers tossed me a ball up into the stands. And of course, the Red Sox ended the night with a win, and went on to win the series 4-1, ending the season as World Champions.

As my dad put it, I will never experience a magical season like that for the rest of my life. It was a true Boys of Summer season, and thanks to the Student9s program, I got to experience so much of it right there at Fenway Park, from those frigid April games where winter still hasn’t quite left Boston, to the muggy August games, to the crisp air of October playoffs. There is just a touch of magic at Fenway Park that you have to experience for yourself. It’s one of the many things that make Boston such a great place to go to college.

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