The sun was shining at Fenway Park, the cost of a hot dog was knocked down to a nostalgic $1, and tickets that are often impossible to get cost just $5 — or, nothing if you were a kid.
Crowds settled in for a beautiful afternoon of baseball. And then 12 minutes later, it was over.
In what will surely go down as the oddest game day of the Red Sox’ season, the team welcomed fans Thursday for what proved to be a one-inning outing — a brief continuation of an Aug. 7 game against the Kansas City Royals originally suspended due to weather in the top of the 10th inning.
Faced with a bizarre scheduling quirk, the Red Sox essentially opened the gates to the masses, slashing prices and offering first-come, first-served seating in an effort to pack the ballpark for a game of unknown duration.
Families were allowed to walk the field before the game, and run the bases after it. Cotton candy, as well as the hot dogs, went for just a dollar — or, as one fan, Jeni Haskell of East Taunton, put it, “circa 2003 prices.”
It wasn’t the full Fenway experience, by any stretch. There was no national anthem, no ceremonial first pitch, no “Sweet Caroline.”
But at five bucks a ticket, not too many folks were complaining.
“We would never be able to afford to bring our kids” to a typical game, said Diane Maillet from Hudson, who was with her two young children. “And they would never have the patience to sit through an entire game anyway.”
Indeed, for many in attendance — namely, those with kids 8 and younger — the game’s truncated length proved to be a far bigger draw than the chance to see the defending World Series champs up close.
Young families represented the vast majority of the 16,441 in attendance, and Thursday’s game provided a test run of sorts, to determine whether their youngsters might soon be able to handle the real thing.
“I can tell you this,” said Dennis Brown, who brought his two sons, Silas, 4, and Caden, 7. “Sitting out in the bleachers, it’s hard to hold a 4-year-old’s attention.”
If there was a downside to the festivities, it was the worry that the rare experience, with field access and great seats for next to nothing, would render any future visits pale by comparison.
Out in the typically pricey Green Monster seats, which proved to be some of the most sought-after on Thursday, Michael Kane’s three grandkids were already acclimating themselves to a life of ballpark luxury.
“The first thing they said was, ‘We should sit here every game,’ ’’ said Kane, who was in town from Florida.
A few rows away, 8-year-old Joey Haskell seemed to be taking equally well to his Monster seat, though his dad, Brian, seemed less concerned about any long-term effects.
“I don’t worry too much about spoiling him,” said the father, “because his first game was [David] Ortiz’s last game.”
Of course, even the fancy accommodations didn’t impress some fans.
“I told my 3-year-old we were going to Fenway Park,” said Katherine Loving of Melrose. “And when we got here, he was like, ‘Where’s the park?’ ”
Outside on Jersey Street, the game-day ritual was much like any other for the Hot Tamale Brass Band (“We play weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals,” said the saxophonist, Timo Shanko), which usually plays outside Fenway in the two hours leading up to game time.
“Our goal is to never play over the ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ ” Shanko said, which, of course, was not a concern Thursday.
By the 1 p.m. start, in fact, things had taken on the feel of an ordinary game.
Red Sox pitcher Josh Taylor kicked things off by retiring the side, and in the bottom of the inning, Christian Vazquez blasted a one-out double to center before Brock Holt, who would later call the game the most fun he’s had playing baseball, sent a line drive down the left field line to plate the winning run.
On the field, Wally waved the Red Sox flag and shimmied his hips.
The grounds crew trotted out for what would surely be their quickest shift of the season.
And a wave of parents hustled for the exits with their young children in tow, doing their best to beat the tantrums.