Day 998: Last Time

Last night, I sat in some excellent seats at Boston’s Fenway Park for the last time.

Here are the seats.


The first time I sat in those excellent seats was in the 1970s, when I bought a share of season tickets along with several of my co-workers at Management Decision Systems. The last time Management Decision Systems operated as a company was in the 1980s, but that season-ticket-sharing among former employees has lasted through the years.

Every year, through the 1980s and until 1998, I would sit in those seats for six regular season games. I also lasted, in those seats, through many Red Sox playoff games.  When I was blessed with a son (for the first and last time) in 1998, I passed my share of those excellent seats to my Red Sox-fan sister, Ellen. Ellen, since the last time I was the owner of that share of those seats, has invited me to at least one game per season.

When I transferred my share of those excellent seats to Ellen, my last request was that we do our best to make it to a World Series Game. The last time Ellen and I succeeded in that was in 2013 (which I thought would be my first and last year of blogging). The first (and only other time) Ellen and I made it to a World Series Game  was in 2007.  This is not the last time I’ll think about those games. Believe me, memories I have from many games  —  when I and others were in those excellent seats — are going to last.

Here‘s a Wikipedia page about the ups and downs of the currently-last-place Red Sox. The last time I read that was a few minutes ago.

I think the last time I sat in those seats (before last night) was when Ellen and I were at our last Red Sox World Series Game (described in this blog post and this one, too).  Here, perhaps, is the last blog post (before today’s) where those seats have appeared (when our image lasted on national TV, no less).

Here’s the last time I’ll explain this at WordPress: Last night was the last time I’ll sit in those seats because Ellen has decided  it’s the last time she wants to buy them.  The last time we discussed that, Ellen asked if I wanted my share of those seats back, and my last thought  was “no.”  This might not be the last reason, but those seats cost a fortune.   Indeed, between the first time I sat in them and the last time we sat in them, last night,  the price of those seats has quadrupled.

It’s not the last time Ellen or I will go to a Red Sox Game, though.  Last night, we talked about lots of ways to attend games in the future.

Today is probably the last time I’ll post these photos from last night, when I was rushing from a therapy group to meet my sister, her spouse Linda, and our cousin Lani, for the 7:10 PM game.

IMG_5176 IMG_5177 IMG_5178

IMG_5181IMG_5182 IMG_5183 IMG_5184 IMG_5185 IMG_5186

The guy in that last photo was yelling, “Get your programs here!  It’s the battle for last place!”



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Thank you, fans, for lasting through all those photos.

Last night, sitting in those seats for the last time, I heard these two songs (videotaped from different seats at Fenway Park).

Thanks to all who helped me create this not-last-time blog post and thanks to you — of course! — for reading it (probably for the last time) today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “Day 998: Last Time

  1. amusez798387

    Wonderful pictures of you in the primo seats at Fenway.

    • Mary! I miss you more than I’m going to miss those seats! Let’s meet somewhere, soon, where we can sit down and talk (not for the last time, I’m sure).

  2. Singing “Sweet Caroline” must have been truly bittersweet. The Red Sox are just having an off-year, but at least the Curse of the Bambino has now been broken. At this point I guess it’s too late for a miraculous upset, but stranger things have happened. Look at how well the Cubs are doing this year.

  3. Janet H

    It’s the end of an Ann era… *sniffle*… I’m frantically looking for pictures of us with you in those seats, circa 1987-92-ish. I know there’s at least one around here somewhere.

    Thank you for inviting us to join you for many Wade Boggs-infused home games. I’ll never forget the time the guy tried to climb out onto the left field wall, to both heckling and encouragement from the fans, the many, many fights we saw, hearing the last cries of, “Beah heah” from the vendors before they banned beer sales in the stands, the hot, hot afternoon games where we sweatily waited for the shade to creep down from the upper seats and cool us down, while leaning forward, desperate to catch some cooling mist from the water spritzers the people in front of us were smart enough to bring, the hours and hours of witty banter and movie talk…

    Oh, what? Game? Yeah, I remember something about a game going on, some guys trying to hit a ball with a bat or something. The games were good, but the company was so much better. Thanks for the memories, Ann.

    Love, your #1 Fan

    • I was sniffling when I wrote this post, Janet, from all those memories of great company at so many Red Sox games. Thank goodness, we can still sit down lots of other places for banter and talk. Soon, I hope.

  4. As a Phillies fan, I’m not going to say much about a team’s place in the MLB universe, (there is bottom and then there is true bottom) but it is bittersweet to give up those special seats, Ann. Even all that “Van ness” must not be comforting right now. 💕

  5. Ah, the famed battle for last place! We Mets fans are all too familiar with competing for that dubious honor. But this year, unlike last, we are in first place in our division, and the magic number is 3, although I’m not sure what that means. Btw, your group work has inspired me to branch out and begin the process of starting one myself! You look lovely in red, by the way, and I doubt that will be my last such compliment on your loveliness.

    • Magic numbers are any combination of your team’s wins and your competing team’s losses. I’d wish the Mets luck, Sunny, except I’m still smarting, a little, from the 1986 World Series. Indeed, after the last time the Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series my outgoing message on my answering machine was this: “We’re too depressed about the Red Sox to come to the phone, so just leave a message.”

      It’s good, for me, to be less attached to magic numbers and wins and losses these days. Instead, it’s very magical to read how my blog has inspired you to branch out into group work. I hope this is not the last time I read a lovely comment like this from lovely you.

  6. NotAPunkRocker

    OK, I must say I can see why they are expensive. Nice views!

    However, I personally love my nosebleed seats when I get to Camden Yards. I like that I can go to a pro game, take in the stadium experience and not be broke (especially since it is a 2 hour drive for me…well worth it a few times during the summer though!)


  8. Last time!

  9. Wow, seats like those are legendary!
    Sean and I visited your stadium for the first time this summer. Great park.

  10. I’ve never been to a ball game, nor watched one on TV, and so when I viewed the clip of Sweet Caroline I was amazed by the numbers of people and their energy. I wonder what it feels likeike to really be there, in the middle. Why are they singing Sweet Caroline? Is Neil Diamond there?

    • I can tell you how it feels to be really there, in the middle of all those people and their energy, Maureen. It feels great.

      People at Fenway have been singing “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the 8th inning for many years.

      Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article on “Sweet Caroline”:

      “Sweet Caroline” has been played at Fenway Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, since at least 1997, and in the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002. On opening night of the 2010 season at Fenway Park, the song was performed by Diamond himself.

      On April 16, 2013, the day after the Boston Marathon bombings, the New York Yankees—longtime Red Sox rivals—announced they would play the song during their home game, preceded by a moment of silence, as a tribute to the victims. On Saturday, April 20, 2013, during the 8th inning of the Red Sox-Kansas City game in Fenway Park, Neil Diamond led the crowd in a rendition of the song. The song was sung at sporting events across the country after the Boston Marathon bombings, in efforts to show solidarity with those affected by the tragedy. It was also played right before the start of the Hamburg Marathon in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday, April 21, 2013, subsequent to a minute of silence. The song was also played before the start of the Stockholm Marathon in Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday, June 1, 2013, as a tribute to those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

      • Thank you for sharing that information. I remember seeing a YouTube video of Neil Diamond singing it at a ball game after the marathon bombings. One of my kids was in Boston at the time. But I didn’t know the context that explains why he picked that song

      • I felt like my answer, last time, didn’t really answer the question of how this tradition got started, Maureen. So I dug a little deeper:

        During a 1997 game at Fenway, Amy Tobey, who was one of the employees in charge of music at the ballpark during that season, played “Sweet Caroline” because someone she knew had just had a baby named Caroline.

        For the next five years or so, the song was only played on select occasions at Fenway Park.

        When Charles Steinberg, an entertainment maestro, started working for the Red Sox as executive vice president/public affairs in 2002, he made sure the song became a nightly staple for the Fenway faithful.

        “The Red Sox would play it once in a while,” Steinberg said. “They would play it from time to time. It wasn’t an anthem. In 2002, they were still doing that. I could hear that the fans were singing responsively.

        “So I said to Danny Kischel, who was working the control room at the time, I said, ‘Are you going to play Sweet Caroline today?’ He said, ‘Oh no, we can’t play it. It’s not a Sweet Caroline day.’ I said, ‘What’s a Sweet Caroline day?’ He said we only play Sweet Caroline when the team is ahead and the crowd is festive and the atmosphere is already very upbeat.”

        But that’s when Steinberg had his brainstorm.

        “I said, ‘I think the song may have transformative powers and it may be able to lift the melancholy crowd and lift the spirits to being positive.’ We were talking about change in an organization that didn’t have any change,” said Steinberg. “I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Sometimes they were playing at the end of seven. Sometimes they were playing at the end of eight. Sometimes they were playing at the middle of the eighth. I wanted it to be the middle of the eighth, because you want your more festive songs to occur when the home team is coming up to bat. So we started playing it each day in 2002.”

        And that tradition hasn’t stopped since.

        Later in that 2002 season, Steinberg met another Caroline who just about everyone in New England knew of, but he didn’t know she was part of the song’s origin.

        “What’s funny is that in August of 2002, Caroline Kennedy was at the game as a guest of [Red Sox president/CEO] Larry Lucchino. I met her in the seventh inning,” said Steinberg. “She was sitting out in the stands with her husband and children. It was a hot day game in August and I brought her up to John [Henry], Tom [Werner] and Larry’s suite.

        “I remember asking her if she needed anything to eat. She said, ‘No, I had a Fenway frank.’ She was very gracious. In the middle of the eighth, ‘Sweet Caroline’ came on and I said, ‘Is this song about you?’ Bewildered, she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think so.’ That’s in August of 2002.

        “Now you turn the clock ahead to all the glory days and everything and now in November of 2007, Neil Diamond revealed that in fact his inspiration for the song was a photo back in the mid ’60s of little Caroline and her horse not long after President Kennedy got assassinated.”

        The connections seem kind of amazing to Steinberg.

        “What moved me was the thought that Boston links an anthem to the daughter of the Brookline native, President Kennedy, the foremost political family in Boston,” said Steinberg. “This is the great granddaughter of the guy who threw out the first pitch in April of 1912, and Boston is singing this anthem, not knowing that they’re singing about their very own native daughter.”

  11. Your beautiful post is a reminder to me that summer came and went and I never made it to the ballpark. Any ballpark. There’s something timeless and sustaining about consistent seats when the game and players and records change all around us.

  12. Great seats to release to the universe! There will be new thrills to come … and hopefully next year will be LOTS better. 😊

    • As usual, Val, your unique perspective thrills, cheers, and releases me from attachments! I think next year will be better than the last year, too.

  13. Ballparks are beautiful. I’ve sung Sweet Caroline for the seventh inning stretch always. Nice to know how it started. Better when everyone is into it and waving, stretching and singing!

  14. Ann, you have such a beautiful smile! That one picture with the lady beside you holding the camera – you should crop that one and use it as your gravatar! ❤

    • I’m sure that’s not the last time I’ll get such a beautiful compliment from you, Diana. That lady, by the way, is my wonderful sister, Ellen.

  15. Glad and sad. Good and bad. Wow. If those seats could talk, Ann. I’m glad you graced them for such a stretch of baseball in all of its range. Quite like life, is it not, the game between those white lines? Thanks for sharing all of these great photos (and videos).

  16. I hope you get to see some more

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