The Boys of Summer, Part 1: Massachusetts, Connecticut & New York

The Boys of Summer, Part 1:  Massachusetts, Connecticut & New York

My father is a New York Yankees fan. Born the year after Mickey Mantle put on the pinstripes (so 1952), he grew up in the Yankees’ Golden Era. The Bronx Bombers were in the midst of a five-year World Series win streak, an effort that would lead them toward 27 championships in total. My father’s not a disciple, but when I was growing up in Seattle, he’d take me downtown to see the “Yanks” play anytime they were at the Kingdome. His interest rubbed off on me, so when it came time to pick out my first fitted Major League Baseball (MLB) cap, I chose the NY over my hometown Ms.

The funny thing is, though, my old man has never been to New York City. That always seemed a little strange. So, when I cooked up the idea to connect baseball’s oldest ballparks via motorcycle, visiting Yankee Stadium with my father seemed like a given. But neither the Big Apple nor my dad were destined to be part of this quest. A tight schedule and a touch of indecisiveness derailed the original itinerary. We’ll save NYC for another story.

Even on foot, coming around the corner and seeing the infamous Green Monster was a surreal experience – walking with a crowd that flowed toward the entry gates, just like they’ve had for more than a century.

Although taking my old man to see the Evil Empire play in the City didn’t work out, my desire to document America’s pastime was on my mind as April approached. With NYC out of the equation, perhaps I should start at Fenway Park in Boston, MA, to see the Red Sox play on the Fourth of July? That seemed pretty paradigmatic for a story about baseball and America, not to mention Fenway is the longest continually operating MLB stadium still in use.

This trip was built around chasing a centenarian craze across the country, starting at the oldest ballpark before making our way west to watch The Boys of Summer do their thing. I’d pitched the project a few years ago, but the idea was denied. Then, without warning, Florian Neuhauser, my friend and editor of RoadRUNNER called me. The idea returned to my generally obsessive mind, and Florian enthusiastically agreed to publish it as a series. With Kyra (my partner-in-crime) and Nathan (a filmmaker-at-large) on board, I set my sights on New England.

Motorcycles & Gear

2023 Indian Challenger Limited
2023 Indian Scout Rogue

Helmet: Shoei Neotec II, AGV Sportmodular Carbon
Jacket: Icon 1000 The Hood, REV’IT! Livingstone Jacket
Pants: Tellason Denim Ankara, Worse for Wear Denim
Boots: Danner 8-Inch Quarry Boots, Danner Light Boots
Gloves: Aerostich Elkskin Roper Gloves, REV’IT! Caliber Gloves
Luggage: OEM Panniers, Wolfman Luggage E-Duffel
Comm System: Sena 10C Pro, Sena 10S

Fenway and the Green Monster

As we rounded the corner past the MGM Music Hall and made our way down Lansdowne St, the Green Monster filled the sky in front of us. The massive sign at Center Field made it clear we’d arrived at Fenway Park, which opened in 1912. The oldest active ballpark in MLB, visiting Fenway is a sort of pilgrimage, a chance to watch a game like someone did shortly after the turn of the 20th century. Nearly every legendary ballplayer has stood at the home plate, staring down the Green Monster in left field. The cast-iron and wood grandstand seats were installed in 1934 and are still in use.

Built in 1912, Fenway Park has hardly changed over the years, offering fans and players alike an authentic (enough) turn-of-the-century baseball experience.

There is a lone red seat in the right field bleachers (section 42, row 37, seat 21) marking a 502-foot home run Ted Williams hit on June 9, 1946—the farthest ever measured at Fenway. There’s also Pesky’s Pole which stands 302 feet from home plate on the right field foul line and is the shortest outfield distance in MLB. The park is one of the two remaining jewel box ballparks (built of reinforced concrete, brick, and steel) still in use in the Majors, the other being Wrigley Field. Many of the seats have obstructed views due to pillars that support the upper deck. It’s a classic park that hasn’t changed much in its 111-year history. Some would argue it’s outdated, but there’s no denying the draw of watching a ballgame played the way it once was.

Baseball stadiums have an undeniable smell. Brats and old beer, maybe? The olfactory invasion begins as soon as you step through the turnstile. Fenway, especially, carries the aroma of more than 100 years of cooked meat and poured barley beverages within its walls. When Kevin Costner drags a begrudging James Earl Jones to the stadium in the perennial classic Field of Dreams, Jones bellows out for a “dog and a beer.” It’s a tradition that lives on and likely isn’t going anywhere, although many new parks have a plethora of other options. As Kyra and I settled into our flat-backed wooden seats, we clutched a dog and a beer. After all, what is more quintessentially American than watching baseball on Independence Day at the country’s oldest stadium in the town which sparked our Revolution?