The Red Sox season starts April 4 in Cleveland, the first of 81 games away from Fenway Park. Not counting Massachusetts, they will play games in 12 states and Canada. In California alone the Sox will play in Anaheim, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego.
So pack up and go to a game. Gas is cheap, it’s easy to find affordable airfares, and your smart phone can guide you most anywhere you need to go.
Now is a good time to look on individual team websites for tickets. Obviously weekend series sell out quickly, particularly for the more appealing locations. But there are bountiful opportunities to find tickets on the secondary market.
If you’ve never gone on the road to see a game, you’ll be surprised at how many fellow Red Sox fans you’ll run across. As great as Fenway is, seeing games at other parks is a worthwhile experience.
Here’s a breakdown of where the Sox will go this season with some travel tips gained over 14 years of chasing baseball teams around the country.
AL East teams
Blue Jays: Toronto is a terrific place to visit. Take Porter Airlines from Logan to the downtown Billy Bishop Airport, a short walk or taxi ride to Rogers Centre. Clearing customs is a breeze there. There are many hotels a short distance from the park and an eclectic assortment of restaurants. Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto is a few blocks away. Baton Rouge is also close to the park and a little more upscale. Visit the funky Yorkville neighborhood during the day, go to the Hockey Hall of Fame or take a ride up the CN Tower.
Orioles: Camden Yards is a must-see stadium, it’s beautiful and aging gracefully. Baltimore is easy to get to by air, train or car. Stay in the Inner Harbor area and walk to the park along with the National Aquarium, Babe Ruth’s birthplace, and other attractions. Go to the nearby Fells Point neighborhood for top-notch Italian restaurants.
Rays: The Trop is dank and depressing, but at least there are no rain delays and lots of Sox fans will be there. You’ll need to rent a car to get around. Stay in Clearwater and go to the beach before the game. Stop by Frenchy’s while you’re there. There are more tourist-type attractions in Tampa. If you stay there, give yourself time to get to St. Petersburg for the game. Traffic can get heavy.
Yankees: Tickets are expensive and so are decent hotels in New York. But it’s easy to get there at least. Stay in Manhattan and take the subway to the Stadium. The No. 4 train gets there quickly and lets you off right at the ballpark. When you’re in New York, go to Foley’s NY on 18 West 33rd St. It’s the best baseball bar anywhere and friendly to Sox fans.
Before the game, go to Little Italy in the Bronx, which is right near Fordham University on Arthur Ave. Eat at Dominick’s Restaurant, a place so old school they don’t have a web site. You’ll email and thank me.
Other AL teams
Angels: Avoid LAX and fly to user-friendly John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. Orange County has beaches, Disneyland and an underrated ballpark. Angel Stadium is a pleasant place to catch a game. Odds are the weather will be perfect. Go to In-n-Out Burger and order a Double-Double.
Astros: Houston is an enormous, spread-out city. You’ll need a car and would do well to stay within 10-15 minutes of Minute Maid Park to avoid sitting in traffic. The Galleria Mall area is a good choice. Go to Pappa Charlie’s BBQ, which is walking distance from the park. It’s a simple place with great food.
Athletics: If you have friends in Oakland or somebody who owes you a large amount of money, it would make sense to go there. Otherwise, go somewhere else. O.co Coliseum is old and not particularly well maintained. The ballpark also sits in what is essentially an industrial park surrounded by highways.
Indians: The Sox open the season here and outside of Opening Day, you’ll be able to sit anywhere you want. The downside is it’ll probably be freezing cold. Stay home unless you really want to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an easy walk from the park.
Mariners: Go here. Pick up your phone and make your plans now. Safeco Field is a gem with great views, a wide assortment of good food and super nice people. Stay downtown and walk to the park. Stop along the way for lunch at one of the neighborhoods joints on First Ave. Check out the EMP Museum while you’re in town.
Twins: Target Field is one of the best parks in the game and sits right downtown, an easy walk from good hotels and restaurants. The Mall of America is out near the airport and worth a visit. Walk down Nicollet Mall at lunchtime and check out the food trucks. Go to Ike’s after the game for a cocktail.
Rangers: Rangers Ballpark sits in a giant parking lot with AT&T Stadium on one side and Six Flags Over Texas on the other. You will need a car to get around and should look elsewhere for lunch or dinner. The ballpark is huge, so don’t sit in the upper deck if you can help it. The Fort Worth Stockyards is certainly not like anything in New England.
Royals: Kauffman Stadium is an underrated gem. You’ll need a car here because the park is out in the middle of nowhere off the highway. Stay in the Country Club Plaza area and make sure you go to Joe’s Kansas City for BBQ, Get the Z-Man sandwich. Also make a visit to the Negro League Museum, which is not too far from the park.
Tigers: Detroit’s downtown has made a comeback in recent years and if you’re a gambler, there are several casinos. Comerica Park is just OK, however. Go to Hockeytown Cafe before the game. The Ford Museum is outside of town but well worth a trip.
White Sox: Here is the problem. Chicago is a tremendous city with countless cultural and dining possibilities. But U.S. Cellular Field, south of the Loop, is in a downtrodden part of town. There is nothing to do there beyond going into the park. Stay in Chicago, have a great lunch at Giordano’s then get to the game 10 minutes before first pitch. Then go right back to the Loop after the game ends.
Interleague opponents this season
Braves: Atlanta is a busy, congested city, and soon-to-be-defunct Turner Field sits out on the edge. There are plenty of places to stay and eat. The Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site is well worth visiting.
Dodgers: Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962, is immaculate. The views of the Los Angeles skyline are amazing and you’ll feel like you’re in town to see Don Drysdale pitch. Get a Dodger Dog, look up in the press box to see Vin Scully and keep patting yourself on the back for having the wisdom to go there. Make your way to Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, a Boston sports bar.
Giants: Go to AT&T Park by any means necessary. Tell one of your kids that college can wait a year. Sell your car. Sell a kidney. Just go. The ballpark sits on the water, a nice rambling walk downhill from the heart of downtown. It’s a beautiful park to walk around and enjoy the scenery while still watching the game. Have some garlic fries while you are there, or one of the craft beers. San Francisco is a great city full of quirky charms and things to do. Alcatraz is well worth the ferry ride over
Padres: Pretty sure Don Orsillo will let you stay at his place. If not, there are plenty of hotels around Petco Park. San Diego’s airport is downtown and everywhere you need to go is a short distance away. Go visit the USS Midway, a World War-II era aircraft carrier. The weather is sure to be great and you can hit the beach before the game. Drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. Everybody should make that drive at some point in their lives.