Invasion of the Red Sox Nation

When the Major League Baseball schedule was released I quickly looked for where and when the Arizona Diamondbacks would be playing. This would give me and more importantly my family an understanding of when they could expect me to be home and when I would be away. As I scanned the proposed schedule I looked at the series at Chase Field from June 8 through June 10 with equal amounts of anticipation and fear. This series had the Boston Red Sox visiting Chase Field for the first time during the regular season. The schedule was released well before the media frenzy surrounding Dice-K and before the Boston Red Sox would go on to post the best record in Major League Baseball over the first 2 months of the season; so why the feelings of fear?


While this is the first time that the Boston Red Sox have played the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field during interleague play, it is not the first time that the Red Sox have played in Phoenix. During Spring Training 2000 the Red Sox came to Bank One Ballpark for the final two games before heading to the west coast to begin the season. I was at those two games and I can remember vividly when the loyal Red Sox Nation invaded the ballpark. There were Boston Red Sox fans, hats, jerseys, and signs as far as the eye could see. And this was in the middle of the “curse” years when they had not won a World Series in nearly 100 years. I could not even imagine what it was going to be like during that series. Well, I take that back I could exactly imagine what it was going to be like which is why the fear.

I have for a long time proposed the theory that the farther east you move the more obnoxious the fans become. This premise has been tested on many occasions all successfully predicting the outcome. There were the series with the Phillies and the near fights in the stands and the series with the New York teams and the minor skirmishes that broke out. That would be nothing compared to what it would be like when the Red Sox came to town. I wasn’t exactly sure who would be going to those games with me but I knew these would probably be the most exciting three games we would have this season and a lot of the action probably would not be confined just to the playing field.

At the beginning of the last school year Dakota entered the fourth grade. He was assigned to a teacher who we had heard have very good credentials. Given the propensity for Dakota to be less than focused on school meant this teacher would have her hands full. From all accounts we had heard though she was up to the challenge. Over the course of the school year there were several counseling sessions as we discussed Dakota’s behavior and needs. At about the midway point of the first semester Dakota came home and began talking more and more about American League baseball and in particular teams in the north east. He had always been a sensible kid with his head on straight so I wasn’t sure where he was getting this notion that the designated hitter was not a bad idea. I nearly flipped out! Where was he getting this stuff? We had to find the source and eliminate it. It was at that time that I found out that his teacher was a Red Sox fan. I of course immediately wanted to contact the district and have this teacher removed from the school system. I feel like I am for the most part level headed and quite amenable to alternative teaching methods. I applauded the idea that kids would be allowed to hear about creationism as well as Darwinism. Alternative theories to plate tectonics should definitely be explored as well. But I have to draw the line when a teacher begins to fill my child’s head with nonsense such as the designated hitter being just as valuable as any other positional player. Next thing you know he’ll be coming home justifying Raphael Palmeiro’s selection as a gold glove winner despite the fact that he was a DH for over 80 percent of the games. Trina did her best to act as a buffer between me and this rogue teacher. Even so, the damage was done. My son now thought the Boston Red Sox were cool. I was almost embarrassed to be seen in public with him. The result of this was that he desperately wanted to attend all 3 Red Sox games. I finally agreed with the stipulation that he was under no circumstances wear anything that resembled a Boston Red Sox logo. He agreed.

All during the San Francisco series the Diamondbacks had attempted to warn us to expect larger than normal crowds for the weekend series. I had heeded that warning and we arrived earlier than usual to the ballpark. As we rounded the corner to the front of Chase Field it was immediately apparent that this would not be a normal series. The walkway between Chase Field and Sliders restaurant was filled with a sea of red. Unfortunately it was not Sedona Red but rather Red Sox red. We carefully made our way through the crowd to the gates. Along the way a Red Sox fan pointed to Dakota and I in our Diamondbacks jerseys and said to his wife, “see honey there are Diamondbacks fans you just have to look for them as they are hiding”. I thought about stopping and correcting him but then thought better of that idea and just ignored the jab.

Within the stadium it did not get any better. The concourses were filled with Red Sox fans who insisted on greeting every other Red Sox fan that they saw and giving them a high five. It literally took us 15 minutes to get to our seats which had somehow now become the western chapter of the Red Sox Nation fan club. As early as batting practice the stage was being set as these fans crowded along the wall to try and get the Red Sox players to acknowledge them.

When the game was about to begin the PA Announcer asked everyone to welcome their Arizona Diamondbacks players as they took the field. The Red Sox fans in unison began to boo the home team. What is up with that? Have a little decency and show some class and respect. How would they feel if someone entered their house as their guest and that guest immediately began to boo their family and their furnishings? This public display really set the tone for how the night would go. Each time the Red Sox would accomplish something these fans would stand up and taunt the Diamondbacks and their fans. Each time the Diamondbacks would accomplish something (which in tonight’s game was not very often) the Red Sox fans would admonish them and downplay anything that happened that did not go Boston’s way. In a smaller scale I had seen this before when Philadelphia and the Mets had come to town and in both instances the result was predictable. Diamondbacks fans put up with it for a while then trouble would brew. Given the arrogance of the Red Sox Nation and the frustration of the Diamondbacks fans, this could be an epic skirmish. It finally erupted towards the seventh inning with the game well out of hand and the Red Sox destroying the Diamondbacks. Somewhere around section 106 words were exchanged and tempers began to flare. Soon it appeared as though a third of the section was being shoved back and forth. Security was called but not before somewhere around 40 or 50 fans got into the fray. It took nearly half an inning to restore peace. When it was done, there was an obvious empty portion of the stands where once there was a crowd of fans watching the game. This was just the opening game of the series. There is no telling what will happen over the next two days. If there was one positive note to come from this it is the fact that Dakota after seeing what Red Sox fans are like is now and will be forever a Diamondbacks fan who despises the designated hitter and all things American League.


2 Comments

  1. I was at all 3 games also. We sat in section 111 clad in our bright Red Sox jerseys. I read your entire post and enjoyed it. I must say however that although you r post contained a few good insights it lacked somewhat in intellectual honesty. Fist off I was very close to “the fight” in section 106 as I was at the beer counter close to that section, a Diamond Backs fan threw the first punch but was quickly pounded on by two Bo-Sox fans so it was easy to see it from your perspective when you see two Sox fans repeatedly punching another person. It only lasted maybe 20 seconds total fight time, a few fans moved quickly up the stands to most likely get away from security. To my knowledge none got away. All told 3 Red Sox fans and the 1 Diamond Backs fan who started it were arrested and rightly so. I don’t agree with over the line taunting any more then you do, but I also know that Red Sox fans make up 1 half of the fiercest rivalry in professional sports with the Yankees occupying the other. The D-Backs are new to baseball in compared to B-Sox & Yanks and you would really have to be on either side to really understand the deep hatred that both teams & and fan bases have for the other, I tell you this because over the many years of the rivalry the innocents of both fan bases has been stripped away and is pure vinegar. It sometimes bleeds over into other games when it against a good team like the D-backs and when people drink too much. In conclusion I feel your statement about B-Sox fans taunting the D-backs fan every time they did something well is way off, repeatedly I saw B-Sox fans clap and give acknowledgment to the player, this happened a few times and many more then us did the same. Just to tell you another quick note we had the loudest and openly rude D-backs fan in our section, he was rude to the point of yelling language children should not hear. I’ve been to D-backs games when the Giants and Dodgers are in town and listened to the violent and challenging speech from “both sides”. Please don’t allow bitterness over the series loss to taint your view of one set of over another.

    Respectfully Erik.

  2. I didn’t mean to imply that all fights and disturbances were/are caused by the Boston Fans. I think every team has their share of fans who don’t handle adversity as well as society would expect. My point was that teams who have more boisterous and rabid fans typically result in more “fan interaction” in the stands. Being closer to fight “ground zero” you have much better insight to how the disturbance unfolded. My observance was more from an overall perspective. Local fights in the stands do not usually pique my interest as I am typically busy keeping score or arguing about bad calls by the umpire. This one though appeared to garner a lot of interest in multiple sections of the stadium and from my viewpoint included more than 3 participants. Again this is from a perspective across the field. I had moved my focus from the game to the stands to see a fight had broken out; I then returned to watching the beating that was occurring on the field. When I looked back into the stands there were a lot of empty seats. That may have been a result of ejections or could have been that people in that area moved away from the fracas. In all this was a good learning experience both from the standpoint of how not to act during a series but more importantly how passionate fans should be for their team. I respect the Red Sox tradition and their love for their team. I wish the Diamondbacks could grow that kind of passion. Perhaps it is too soon to expect Arizona fans to embrace their team.

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