Baseball: The Other Big Event on Patriots Day

By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service

The Green Line was packed on Monday morning full of commuters heading toward Kenmore Square. That’s not earth-shattering news, of course, given the typical morning rush hour in Boston. But on this Monday morning, most people weren’t headed to work.

The Boston Red Sox are playing the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Since its first appearance in 1968, the annual game has become as much a part of the Patriots Day festivities in Boston as the Boston Marathon.

Cliff Danue, of North Attleboro, has been going to the game on Marathon Monday with his father for the last 28 years. They generally stay until around the eighth inning then head to Kenmore Square to watch the Marathon. For him, it’s the first sign of spring.

“It’s cooler today than most years,” said Danue. “Usually it’s a sign that you can put winter in the rearview.”

Danue and his father aren’t the only people who make a day of going to the Sox on Patriots Day. According to the Red Sox website, the game has sold out every year going back to 2002, the longest the team’s attendance records trace back. According to baseball-reference.com, attendance at Fenway has been higher than 30,000 on Patriots Day every year since 1983. Attendance in 2014 was 37,513.

“It’s a fun, patriotic day,” said Jesse Shove, of Wareham. “Just being around the city, seeing all the marathoners, it’s a cool day.”

“It’s the excitement of the crowd, it’s the excitement of the day,” said Marie McClanahan, of Woburn. “It’s just fantastic.”

In 2013, the Red Sox won 3-2 in their final at-bat when Mike Napoli doubled to drive in Dustin Pedroia in the bottom of the ninth inning. It became the win that defined their season that year, the same day that two explosions at the marathon finish line killed four and injured hundreds. The team dedicated the rest of that season to the victims of the tragedy and won their third World series since 2004.

Kenny Merritt, of Gloucester, was at Fenway on Monday morning for the first time since the Marathon bombings. He described the atmosphere as solemn.

“For me, it’s really starting to hit home,” said Merritt.

Merritt, who was at the game with Katie Stanton, also of Gloucester, said Patriots Day was “just another day” for him prior to 2013, a day off from school, as the day is recognized as a holiday in Massachusetts.

“We’ve come together, we’ve grown stronger,” said Merritt. “We really showed, as Americans, our true colors, and how we can come together in a time of need.”

Danue not only attended the Patriots Day game in 2013, but he was at Game 6 of the 2013 World Series at Fenway, where the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to clinch their third World Series in 10 seasons. It was the first time the Red Sox clinched the series at Fenway since 1918. But his feelings of the day haven’t changed dramatically despite what happened two years ago.

“It’s been such a tradition,” said Danue. “We’ve been doing it for so long. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Posted in The Stories.