We weaved through the masses underneath the stands running along Van Ness Street—not an easy task for two 14-year-olds and a 10-year-old. Then Dan stopped us, motioning with his head toward a stove top from which an intoxicating smell was rising. This was his "sangwich" guy.
My eyes grew wide. There in front of me were spicy Italian sausages placed into hearty bread rolls and topped with tender cooked onions and bell peppers. This was a step up from my usual fare of a Fenway Frank and a soda. Being 14 and equipped with eyes bigger than my stomach, I ordered two.
My hyperbolic exclamation that my first sangwich was "better than sex" can be chalked up to being an inexperienced 14-year-old. Nonetheless, it was pretty special. I got through 1½ sangwiches before imploring my brother to ditch his wimpy frank and take his own first step into manhood. (He was similarly impressed.) Since that day any trip to Fenway requires a winding walk to that same stove top near the rightfield entrance.
By Dick Friedman
FOR SOMEONE GROWING UP IN THE EARLY- TO mid-1960s, going to Fenway Park could be hazardous to your health. I speak not so much of the inexpensive, cholesterol- and carbohydrate-filled comestibles—the 35-cent hot dog, the quarter Coke and popcorn and Cracker Jack—with which we stuffed ourselves. The real danger was that Fenway was empty, wide-open. From 1960 through '66 the Sox of Don Buddin and Eddie Bressoud and Arnold Earley and Felix Mantilla never averaged more than the '60 season's 14,674 a game. (For good reason: They stunk.) Which meant you could buy a 75-cent ticket admitting you to the rightfield grandstand; then, as the game proceeded (usually drearily), you could roam the park, sitting in a different seat every inning.
And so it came to pass that on Saturday afternoon, June 18, 1966, the Sox, on their way to a ninth-place finish, were up against the eventual World Series champion Orioles. That day the 15-year-old me was one of 7,957 at Fenway. As I recall I had migrated from the right- to the leftfield grandstand, about halfway up and midway between third base and the Green Monster. I had a whole section to myself. I put my legs up on the seat in front of me and lazily lay back as Baltimore centerfielder Russ Snyder came to the plate in the top of the fourth (I think) with two outs and nobody on to face Red Sox righty Darrell (Bucky) Brandon. Your score was (of course) Orioles 6, Red Sox 1. The final would be Baltimore 16, Boston 6. The pitch count is lost to posterity.
Let the Curt Gowdy in my head pick up the play-by-play: "Brandon winds up. Here's the pitch, and Snyder slashes a screaming foul that is—Oh, s---!—coming RIGHT AT ME!!!" Nothing in my Little League, junior high and sandlot experience had prepared me for a liner pealed off by a major league batter. Nor was there anyone around me to intercept it. I froze. Then I closed my eyes and trusted to fate.
INCOMING! I heard the ball smash into the seat next to me. I felt for my limbs and other body parts. All there. I peeked and saw the ball bouncing, harmlessly, two sections away, where a couple of 10-year-olds were running after it.