Erin James purposely bought one of the worst tickets in Fenway Park for Monday’s Red Sox game: a spot up past the nose-bleed seats above left field.
Kevin Morrissey came to the same standing-room-only section and spent much of the game with his back to the baseball diamond, staring out at Beacon Street, hoping to catch a glimpse of his older sister.
Michaela Richardson and her friends commandeered an entire picnic table knowing that this out-of-the-way corner would offer something unique: a view of a herd of Boston Marathon runners making the final push to Copley Square.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years,’’ said Richardson, 32, of Auburn. “We come and watch the Red Sox on Patriots Day and check on the marathon at the same time.’’
Each Patriots Day, the left field corner of Fenway Park offers an unparalleled perspective. It is the only place in Boston where spectators can simultaneously watch the marathon and the Red Sox game. The spot marks the point where two incongruous sporting events converge during the springtime ritual known as Marathon Monday.
“It’s a Boston holiday,’’ said Brian Gannon, 38, of East Boston, who has been coming to Patriots Day games for a decade and watches from the standing-room seats above left field so he can catch glimpses of the race. “The Sox game is just a piece of what’s happening in the city.’’
Baseball and the marathon have long been intertwined. The Citgo sign, that Boston landmark visible on television every time a Sox player swats a left field home run, marks roughly one mile until the marathon’s finish line.
On Monday, as Fenway’s public address announcer read starting lineups at 10:54 a.m., the first marathon racers could be seen in Kenmore Square - competitors in the wheelchair race speeding down Beacon Street.
From inside the ballpark, the view of baseball is far better than the view of the marathon. Glimpses of the race can be seen from atop the Green Monster, looking past the Hotel Buckminster and into Kenmore Square. But the people waiting Monday in the 14-deep beer line behind Fisk’s pole seemed oblivious to the exertions of the runners a few blocks away.
The better vantage point is around the corner, in the left field upper deck, which is higher than the Green Monster. The distance from park to marathon course is maybe 700 feet - almost double the distance of a center field home run. The runners maybe look small from that distance, but baseball fans still take notice.
“Oh, wow, you can see the marathon!’’ exclaimed Miles Bailey, 35, of Milton, pointing toward Beacon Street with a Bud Light in his hand as he waited in line for a hot dog.
The fans who had been there before to watch both sports swapped stories about past Patriots Days.
“Last year was cold up here,’’ said Neal Richardson, 33, sitting at the picnic table with his wife, Michaela. “Today is just a great day. Both the game and the marathon, the whole nine yards.’’
A few feet away, Morrissey still stood with his back to the baseball diamond, sipping a beer, still looking for his sister in the marathon. Morrissey, a 34-year-old from Worcester, knew that the bridge is too far away for him to pick his sister out of the crowd, but he kept looking.
“It’s a great day to be in Boston,’’ he said.
Nearby, James, 26, of Danvers, watched the Red Sox from her far-off vantage point. Her face was sunburned by the seventh inning, and she could not see a ball hit in the left field corner.
Whenever she wanted, James could turn her head, see marathon runners, and think about the endurance it takes to run 26.2 miles.
Straight ahead, baseball reminded her of the slow rhythm of the coming season.
“The Red Sox are exciting because it’s our home team, summer boys,’’ James said. “I’m glad to have them back.’’