Is there anything better than baseball in October at Fenway Park? Not a chance.
If you don’t believe us, you clearly weren’t in the boisterous crowd, shoehorned into the ancient ballpark Wednesday as the Sox and Cards squared off in Game 6 of the World Series. So what if the stadium built in 1912 has dubious sightlines, $9 beer, and ticket prices approaching unfathomable; nothing beats the crack of the bat in Kenmore Square on a frosty fall night.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to come because I thought it’d be jinxy to put my personal desires ahead of the team,” said Letters to Cleo singer Kay Hanley, a super Sox fan who flew in from Los Angeles. “But then it was brought to my attention that that’s [expletive] crazy. No matter what happens tonight, there’s no place on earth I’d rather be than Fenway Park.”
And that was the opinion of almost everyone — many of whom spent a small fortune for a ticket to the game, in some cases for the privilege of being far from the action on the field.
As always at such pricey affairs, the well-heeled were well represented Wednesday. Red Sox owner John Henry hosted a pregame gathering for friends and assorted VIPs, and we spied Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, promoter Don Law, Citi Wang boss Joe Spaulding, and actor Mike O’Malley, who told us there was no chance he’d miss the game.
“There are advantages to having a sitcom canceled, and this is one of the few,” said the New Hampshire native, whose NBC show “Welcome to the Family” just got the ax. “The great thing about being at a World Series game at Fenway is being around people who share your madness. It’s a nice asylum to be in.”
O’Malley is honest enough to admit he never imagined these scraggly, misfit Sox would make it to the World Series. But he did sense there was something special about the team.
“For the last six or seven years, I’ve hosted the Welcome Home Dinner, which is the first ‘team event’ every season — and with [Ryan] Dempster, and Salty [Jarrod Saltalamacchia], and [Jonny] Gomes, you could see, behind the scenes, that they were a unit.”
Also in the crowd was Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Aerosmith screamer Steven Tyler, ensconced in the EMC Club with two of his children, country singers Eric Church and Kenny Chesney, Secretary of State John Kerry, actor John Travolta, as well as comedians Dane Cook and Lenny Clarke, restaurateurs Patrick Lyons, Steve DeFillippo, and Ed Kane, and chef Ming Tsai, who told us the evening was “history in the making.”
Hollywood screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, a Needham native, came home for the game, but was feeling a little anxious beforehand.
“I vacillate between utterly bullish and lugubriously despairing,” said Rosenberg, whose writing credits include “Beautiful Girls” and “Con Air.” “Sometimes within the same minute.”
The Dropkick Murphys performed the national anthem Wednesday, and followed it with a version of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” that whipped the crowd into a mild frenzy before the first pitch.
“We were combing our memory banks. This has got to be one of the highlights of our career,” said frontman Ken Casey. “We finally cracked the anthem level. But it’s not about us. It’s about this team.”
“The Shield” star Michael Chiklis, clad in Sox jacket and hat, sounded optimistic before the game, saying the 2013 team has had an “aura” all year.
“It’s like some of the casts I’ve worked with,” said Chiklis, who flew in from LA. “You have to have that chemistry, that devil-may-care attitude.”
Chiklis’s wife, Michelle, said she was just happy to be at Fenway after hosting impromptu viewing parties at her home throughout the playoffs.
“We don’t invite people. They just show up,” she said. “They know the game’s on at our house.”
We ran into Sox poet laureate Dick Flavin, TD Garden president Amy Latimer, Reebok’s Paul Foster, Buffalo Tom frontman Bill Janovitz and the Hot Stove Cool Music crowd, band managers Bert Hollman (Allman Brothers), Michael Creamer (Kim Taylor), Mark Kates (MGMT), and Darren Hill (Replacements, Mighty Mighty Bosstones), and at least one member of the Standells, whose 1966 hit “Dirty Water” is a staple of Red Sox Nation.
Former US Senate majority leader George Mitchell made the scene, joined by his friend of 50 years, prominent Portland lawyer Harold Pachios.
“For lifelong Red Sox fans, this is big,” said Mitchell.
Also in the house were Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes, ex-Sox slugger Mo Vaughn, Union Oyster House owner Joe Milano, MIT president L. Rafael Reif, “Captain America” actor Chris Evans, and filmmaker Ken Burns.
We also said hello to The Foundation to be Named Later’s Paul Epstein, who told us his brother, former Sox GM Theo Epstein, was watching the game back in Chicago. Heisman hero Doug Flutie was wandering around, as were PR pros George Regan and Tom O’Neill III, MSNBC morning team Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and former lawyer and TV personality Rikki Klieman, who seemed vaguely annoyed that her husband, former Boston top cop Bill Bratton was stuck in meetings in New York.
“Of all nights,” she said. “He should be here.”Mark Shanahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeredithGoldste.
Due to a reporting error, an earlier version referred to Kim Taylor incorrectly.