Friday, November 11, 2011

Story Ten: The Best Birthday Ever 1978

Welcome to the new folks who heard about this at "The Great Fenway Park Writers Series", The Tardis Girl Daily or following the #nanowrimo and #amwriting hash tags on Twitter and are starting to join me on this crazy journey this month during National Novel Writers Month. Many of these first drafts will eventually get polished and shopped around, some will get expanded, some may sit and linger for a long, long time before they want to be told in full.

I have always loved Jimmy Buffett's description of stories as factual fictions and fictional facts. This story falls into that category. When kids give you writing prompts, they aren't thinking "could this happen" or "did this happen." They are thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if...." Part of my job is try and make things that may never have happened at Fenway seem as if it could have.

In this case the idea of someone falling on the field as a result of a fight in the stands, spilled food (preferably beer) and a broken body part (preferably the face) while going for a home run or foul ball is a tough call. People don't fall on the field, but the thought of someone getting pushed on to the field is possible.

Toby’s mother took one look and told him

“A sweater is something you put on when your mother is cold,” she said.

“Don’t move to Alaska,” he muttered. “Besides, it’s going to be warm in the bleachers.”

“A sweater or I pick a coat for you.”

“Fine,” he muttered as he stomped up to his room to grab the gray sweatshirt with the hood. After he pulled it on, he grabbed his red baseball cap with the blue “B” on it like the Red Sox on field cap.

“Much better,” his mom said when she saw him. “The boys will be here soon and your dad will drive you into the game. Now remember, stick together, behave and don’t make me regret agreeing with your father about taking you three to the ball game for your birthday.”

It wasn’t long before Seamus and Theo were at his door. Both Seamus and Theo’s dads decided to join them at the game as well.

“It will make it easier,” Toby’s dad said. “Besides, you and your friends can have a girls day or something.

The trip to Fenway was uneventful, the worst part was finding parking. None of their dads wanted to pay so they drove around and around and around until Toby’s dad noticed a spot on Landsdowne Street and managed to squeeze into the space.

“Parking by Braille,” Toby’s dad announced as he tapped the bumpers of the cars while he pulled in. He chuckled at his joke, like he always did. Toby just rolled his eyes.

“Your father is kind of lame,” Seamus whispered.

“I know,” Toby hissed back.

“It’s not that bad,” Theo shrugged.

“Nice parking job,” the other dads admired. It was a tight squeeze, but Toby had to admit, it was pretty cool.”

“Do you know what would be funny?” Theo said.


“If a home run ball went over the wall and went through your windshield or something.

“That would be kind of funny,” Seamus said.

“The only thing about this space, we have to walk all the way around the park to get to our seats. I managed to score right field box seats.”

The boys were too excited to care about a walk around the park to go in the right gates to their seats.

“If I owned the team,” Toby said, “I’d open up the concourse so you could go in any gate.”

“I’d put seats on top of the green monster,” said Seamus.

“That would be so cool!” Theo said, “then you could catch all sorts of home run balls.”

“Yeah, but if you fell off you’d get wicked hurt.”

“I’d put a safety rail on so you wouldn’t fall off unless you were stupid or something.”

When the boys saw their seats, they screamed in joy. They were right next to the right field foul pole, called “Pesky’s pole” after
Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky. Not only were they right on top of the right fielder, but a lot of foul balls and home runs came that way on a good day.

“Happy Birthday Toby.”

“You’re the best dad ever!” he said giving his father a hug.

“That’s Dewey Evans right there!” Toby yelled.

The beer man came through and the men bought three. They asked when the soda and hot dogs would come through, the beer man shrugged. “Usually they’re right behind me, but then I go through more often than anyone else.”

Before long the hot dog came through and the boys were settled in their seats with scorecards, a Red Sox pencil and a soda watching the game. Mike Torrez kept sending the players from the Chicago White Sox back to the dug out while the Red Sox kept hitting the ball. Jim Rice sent one over the monster in the first inning. In the third inning Carl Yastrzemski sent one towards right field. Everyone jumped up, hoping the ball would stay fair and they’d catch it. The ball wrapped just fair.

As they all jumped for the ball, things got crazy. The guys behind Toby, his friends and their dads, had been drinking beer all afternoon… probably even before they got to the park. One of them still had his beer in his hand when he dropped it trying to catch the ball. What was left in the plastic cup spilled all over Toby and his friends. Seamus’ dad managed to get a piece of the ball when one of the guys behind them pushed him trying to get the ball from him. Seamus’ dad fell knocking the ball towards Toby.

Toby, Seamus and Theo all dove for the ball when one of the guys pushed Toby. Toby fell over backwards onto the low wall separating their seats from right field.

“Toby!” his dad called as he tried to crawl over everyone to grab him.

Theo tried to grab him, but it was too late, Toby had gone over backwards onto the field, head first.

Lying on the field, Wayne Nordhagen, the center fielder from Chicago trotted over while Toby’s dad was trying to get over the wall to his son.

Toby lay on the warning track. He didn’t want to move because his head hurt so much.

“You OK kid?” the tall player asked him.

Toby tried to say something, but a funny “eep” noise came out.

His dad was over him. “Toby how many fingers am I holding up?”

Toby looked. It sort of looked like 2 fingers and then some ghost fingers behind them. He looked at them oddly.

“Eep,” he said.

There was a commotion in the stands between Theo’s dad and the guys sitting behind them. Seamus’ dad was trying to keep

Theo’s dad from punching one of the guys while Seamus and Theo were yelling things at the guys. Toby heard words like “stupid” and “it’s Toby’s ball, it’s his birthday you jerk.”

Toby loved his friends. Here he was laying on the field and they were still fighting for the ball. There were men in blue jackets trying to break up the fight and corralling the guys that were behind them.

Now there were all sorts of people around Toby. He felt a little less spacey. He started to understand the questions better and he felt like he was able to form words other than “eep.”

He went to sit up, but the man in the uniform told him to lie still while he flashed a light in his eyes. He held up fingers and asked him how many. This time it looked like 3 fingers with no ghosts.

“OK son,” the uniformed man said, “sit up slowly.”

Toby sat up. Everything spun for a second and then started to settle into place.

“How many fingers?”


The man smiled before shining the light in his eyes again.

“It’s my birthday,” Toby said. He didn’t know why, but he did.

“Happy birthday,” Wayne Nordhagen said, “How old are you?”

“I’m 10 today.”

“That’s a good age. Do you play any ball?”

“I play little league.”

“Good for you. Make sure you study hard too and maybe you’ll get a scholarship to college before you play in the big leagues.”

“Yes sir,” Toby said. He was feeling much better.

“Can I watch the rest of the game dad?”

His father looked at the uniformed man. The man nodded, “He may have a bit of a concussion, but he seems to be fine.”

Toby stood up and his dad helped him over the wall. The crowd let out a cheer as he sat back down in his seat. His father climbed over behind him.

“If you feel sick or anything Tobes, let me know.” He kept a watchful eye.

“You missed it Tobey, the jerk behind us grabbed the ball and Seamus’ dad punched him in the face and broke his nose.”


“Yeah, then the guys in the blue jackets took them out of here.”

They watched a bit more of the game, but Tobey’s dad kept looking nervously at his son. By the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox had a five run lead.

“Excuse me sir,” it was one of the blue jacketed men tapped Toby’s dad on the shoulder. “This is for your son.”

He held out a baseball that had been signed by a bunch of players.

“When the guys in the dugout heard what happened, they wanted to wish your son a happy birthday.” He said with a smile.

Toby and his friends stared at the treasure with big eyes, their mouths hanging open.

“Look, it’s the Rem Dog, Jim Rice and Yaz!” Seamus began to inventory the names he recognized. “Dewey, Rooster and Freddy Lynn!”

“Hey guys, we should probably thinking about leaving soon. The guys are winning and I’m a bit worried about you Toby.”

“I’m find dad.” Toby rolled his eyes.

“And I have to answer to your mom.”

Toby groaned. There was no way his mom wasn’t going to hear about this and get fussy.

“Can we at least wait until the 7th inning stretch?”

The men exchanged glances. None of them really wanted to leave and neither did the boys.
“Seventh inning stretch and that’s it.”

The boys knew better than to argue. A couple of times either Dewey Evans or Mark Nordhagen would toss a ball to the boys. By the time they left, they each had a baseball and Toby had the signed ball as well.

When they got back to the car, the back window was smashed and on the back seat was the home run baseball Jim Rice had hit in the first inning.

“Um guys,” Toby’s father said looking at the back window, “I hope you don’t take it personally if I tell you we’re not coming to a game any time in the near future. I don’t think I can afford the excitement.”

The boys looked at each other and laughed.

“OK,” Toby said, “but so far, this is the best birthday ever!”

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