For the life-long baseball fan, a visit to Fenway Park is a must stop. For the baseball journalist, an assignment in the Fenway press box is also something special.
I had the opportunity last month to cover a baseball game from the Fenway press box. Before you jump the gun wondering how a sports blogger was able to invade the domain reserved for the Baseball Writers Association of America, the game I was covering was not part of the Red Sox’ schedule. It was this. Why I was there will be part of a future feature story here at SMJ.
Like the park, the Fenway press box has gone through many renovations over the years, and its current configuration fits well into the historic nature of the stadium.
The Red Sox have made their intentions known of their goal to be more environmental friendly, and one of the first things I noticed as I reached the top of the ramp leading to the press box was the placement of solar panels on the roof. I’m not sure if this is a recent development, but a good gesture nonetheless.
On the wall just outside the press box you will see the following quote from former Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti…
Entering the press area you walk through a hallway with its walls decorated with copies of local and national newspaper pages chronicling the Red Sox’ World Series Championships of 2004 and 2007. The Red Sox are not shy about sharing their successes with all.
The working portion of the press box consists of four levels that can serve a little over 100 reporters. From this location, your vantage point of the game is quite distant, but it does give one a great view of the Boston skyline.
On both ends of the front row are microphones where the official scorer and Red Sox officials sit and make rulings and announcements to all the press throughout the game.
The press box is fully equipped with high-speed wireless Internet access. On the right wall of the press box is a flat screen television tuned in to all the action.
There is an overflow area behind the press box area for other members of the media not assigned a seat to take in the game. The room is sponsored by Funai, and also has its walls covered with newspaper accounts of Red Sox teams past.
In the press box hallway the rules of the work area are clearly displayed. (Good thing no one saw me violating #5). The MLB media regulations are available in English, Spanish, and for those from the Far East, Japanese. I guess the regulations are unchanged since last year.
The press box houses seven electronic media booths for radio and television broadcasts. The booths are labeled A through G. The entrances of many possess a photo of a Red Sox broadcast legend. What was most fascinating is the sign that adorns Booth F. It doesn’t appear to be the booth for either the Sox’ flagship radio station WRKO or NESN television. If anyone knows the back story on this, please drop me a line.
There is a separate large booth to the far left of the press box which houses the stadium’s in-house audio and video equipment.
For the games I attended, notes and information were provided by the minor league teams in action. Because they were regular season games for these clubs, much of the official staffing for the games were handled by the Red Sox minor league affiliates, from the official scorer to the pubic address announcer. So it wasn’t just a thrill for the players to take in the Fenway experience, the game day staff of the teams also got a taste of the big leagues.
Also part of the Fenway press box area is a self-service cafeteria. For Red Sox games the press is charged $10 for that day’s buffet. The day I was there the fee was only $5 and the meal consisted of an extra long hot dog, chips, Caesar salad, soft drinks, and ice cream. Not gourmet press box fare but still affordable compared to the food available to the fans. There is also a small food counter area behind the working press box where reporters can access free soft drinks, coffee, and popcorn.
The doubleheader featured wins by both Red Sox minor league clubs. What made the experience a little more difficult for the press was that none of the four teams had access to the Red Sox or visiting clubhouses. All teams were sequestered in a make-shift clubhouse located in a private reception area behind the bleachers in centerfield. Post game interviews were held on the field immediately after the game.
The Red Sox ownership has made upgrades to Fenway Park with the wishes of the fans in mind. With their state-of-the art press box, the media is also well served.