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    Fenway Park: Behind the scenes, pregame rituals

    Listen to the activity that goes on before the opening pitch, something most ticket holders and TV viewers never experience.

    > To listen, go to Everyone knows the pregame rituals at Fenway Park: the throwing of a ceremonial first pitch, the singing of the national anthem, the “Play ball!” that kicks things off, fans grabbing cold (and obscenely expensive) beers on the way to their seats. But there’s quite a bit of activity and preparation — hours of it, actually — that goes on before the opening pitch that most ticket holders and TV viewers never see. Some of it is mundane. Fenway staff dampen the infield with water, rake the dirt, and lead fan groups on ballpark tours. Food vendors carefully stack plastic cups of coleslaw. Players take fielding practice, stretch on the outfield grass, and indulge their game-day superstitions. Before a recent game against the Houston Astros, I stood behind home plate to watch and listen to the best part of the warm-up: batting practice, with its distinct crack-crack-crack as Red Sox starters belted balls all over the park, a percussive collision of wood and leather. If there’s a more welcome sound after a hard winter, I don’t know it. In the background, adrenaline-inducing music blared from the PA system. The day was chilly, but the sun was out, a beacon of summer’s inexorable approach.

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