It's a strange happenstance, but in the past year I've taken 3 ballpark tours at MLB parks (Camden Yards, AT&T Park, Fenway) and attended games at 2 parks (Camden Yard, Target Field). It's an odd confluence of the academic conference circuit and the MLB schedule, I guess, that has lead to to such extremes as touring ballparks in the middle of winter. And yet that, too, can be awesome.
The 2013 MLA (don't ask) was in Boston. I was in town for interviews and had a touch of the flu, but once I found out Fenway tours ran 7 days a week from 11 AM to 6 PM, I was all in.
As much as you want to call bs on the mythology of places like Fenway, they really are different. I took a 6 PM tour with maybe 10 other people. Other than the tour guides we had the place to ourselves.
It's not just the knowledge that you are slumming around the same grounds as Ruth, Williams, Pesky, Green, or Papelbon (hate that guy). In January you see it as few others get to.
They literally try to conserve heat within the confines up under the bleachers, and you come out through heavy plastic flaps to this, the white field and the money seats dotted with snow. The park itself is ancient and littered with ice throughout. It feels locked down for winter and your being there makes you feel like you snuck into the place, like you are spying on some great event in hibernation.
The visitor's locker room is cleaned out, waiting for spring. Everything is in order, as if spring might be tomorrow...or the next day...or the next. Contrary to what people say about old ballparks, it isn't the ghosts of the past but those of the future that loom over the proceedings, not the greatness that was but the greatness that could be.
The tour nears its end with a trip in the cold and the wind to the top of the Green Monster. It's icy up there, so people are given the choice of going or not going. My night, everyone went.
And no trip to Fenway would be complete, of course, without an homage to the man, Pumpsie Green.
Have a good one everybody!