As game time neared, fans and police officers filled every street and souvenir shop within shouting distance of Fenway Park.
The lucky ticket-holders in the crowd shrugged off parking prices that soared past $40 at the most convenient lots. Instead, they focused on their good fortune, hoping they would witness an ALCS-clinching victory.
All around, the pungent smell of grilled sausage mixed with an air of anticipation.
The sights and sounds around Fenway Saturday night revealed a united Red Sox Nation, a group of beard believers.
On Brookline Avenue, petty officers Kenton Spaulding of Liberty, Maine, and Adam Clark of Salisbury stood out in their Navy uniforms. The pair was on leave from the USS Toledo, a submarine based in Groton, Conn. They purchased two seats near the Pesky Pole for $200. They were the same tickets they purchased for $150 for Game 1 of the ALCS.
“Since we lost Game 1, we’re switching seats this time,” said Clark. “Hopefully, that way we’ll win this game. It’s all about the energy here. The more fans we can get in the park, the better the game is going to be.”
Inside a souvenir store on Yawkey Way, one of the youngest fans to attend Game 6 waited for her parents in a stroller.
When asked why she brought her 11-week-old daughter Harley Madison Caccamo to the game, Stephanie Caccamo of Wingdale, N.Y., said, “I want to raise her right.”
And she was eying a couple of Red Sox onesies at the store.
On Lansdowne Street, Michael and Samantha Gonzalez of South Windsor, Conn., made their way toward Gate B. Only a few days earlier, Samantha had surprised her husband with tickets. He was completely shocked by his early Christmas gift.
“This is our date night,” said Michael. “It’s the first time in a year we’ve gotten to go out.”
Added Samantha: “We’ve never been to a playoff game. We haven’t been able to afford a baseball game in years, not with three kids at home.”
About 50 feet away, a long line of fans waited patiently in the hopes a late release of tickets would get them inside. Susan Primeau of Laconia, N.H., had waited for two hours and still had about 30 people in front of her.
“I couldn’t get any tickets through the regular way,” said Primeau. “So, I thought I’d give this a try. If I get tickets, I’ll start to cry.”
Meanwhile, along Van Ness Street, pedicabs were doing a brisk business, dropping off fans who didn’t want to walk tfrom their parking spaces along Newbury and Boylston streets.
“Some people get tired, some people just want to have fun [and hire us],” said Jonathan Lopatin, a pedicab driver. “It’s more fun than walking. You get the wind in your hair. Business has been really good. I’m just hustling.”
And scalpers weren’t complaining either. Bleacher seats that went for $90 for Games 1 and 2 were selling for $200.
In fact, the only fans who might had a tough time Saturday night were those from Detroit. Figuring there was safety in number, about 30 were gathered along Van Ness around 6:15 p.m.
“We definitely feel like we’re in the minority,” said Eric Young of Novi, Mich., who was actually in town celebrating his first wedding anniversary and the playoff schedule broke in his favor. “We haven’t been treated well. People have been yelling, ‘Go home’ and ‘You’re not welcome.’ ”
But the streets were filled with plenty of cops to make sure it was a safe game night. They even placed flyers on cars in parking lots, informing drivers about postgame traffic logistics.
The advisory let fans know that “all vehicular traffic exiting parking lots and garages will be delayed from exiting from the seveth inning on.”
It also warned that other traffic issues and “an overflow of pedestrian foot traffic” could cause other delays to ensure public safety.
Clearly, they wanted a good night for fans.