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Fenway Park

4 Yawkey Way Boston, Massachusetts

TYPE: Sports Venue Sports Venue
AGE: Ages 6 & Up

When the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series -- ending an 86-year dry spell -- and repeated the feat in 2007, they may have lost their status as one of baseball's most beloved underdogs, but I haven't heard any members of Red Sox Nation complaining. Sure, the Yankees, their perennial American League East rivals down in New York City, have a higher payroll and more world titles. None of that matters to dedicated Red Sox supporters, and their numbers are legion. The 2005 movie Fever Pitch didn't exaggerate anything: Sit among them in the stands and you'll definitely remember that the word "fan" comes from "fanatic." But I, for one, never mind. You're watching ball in an intensely green place that's older than your grandparents, inhaling a Fenway Frank and wishing for a home run -- what could be better?

My father was a Red Sox true believer his whole life, and though my family has committed the ultimate treason of rooting for the Yankees, we still harbor a secret fondness for the Sox. So it is that from time to time, we take off our Yankees caps and visit Fenway Park.

It's a venerable stadium, though "stadium" seems almost too grand a term for this, the oldest park in the major leagues (built in 1912). Its quirks only add to the Fenway mystique: the narrow seats, the hand-operated scoreboard, the 37-foot-high left-field wall known as the "Green Monster" for its tendency to rob opposing hitters of their home runs. Those seats may be uncomfortable but they're gratifyingly close to the field, without the wide swaths of grass other parks have put between the fans and the players.

Compared with its modern brethren, however, Fenway is tiny, and tickets are both expensive and hard to get. Throughout the season, a limited number of standing-room tickets go on sale the day of the game, and fans sometimes return presold tickets (especially if a rainout causes rescheduling). It can't hurt to check. Forced to choose between seats in a low-numbered grandstand section -- say, 10 or below -- and those in the bleachers, go for the bleachers. They can get rowdy during night games, but the view is better from there than from the deep right-field corner.

We took a Fenway Park tour (conducted year-round) that actually allowed us to peer inside the cramped space behind the Green Monster and walk out onto the warning track, stop in the press box, and visit the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Best of all was the guide's commentary, rich in team lore and highly entertaining.

Nearest Airport: Boston Logan International.

Where to Stay: $$ DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, 400 Soldiers Field Rd. (tel. 800/222-TREE [8733] or 617/783-0090; www.doubletree.com). $ The Midtown Hotel, 220 Huntington Ave. (tel. 800/343-1177 or 617/262-1000; www.midtownhotel.com).

Best Time: Season runs March to October.

Telephone: 888/REDSOX-6 [733-7696] for tickets, 617/226-6666 for tours

Website: www.redsox.com
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Destination Guide: Boston