John Caldarella

Dirty Water

The hot summer sun beat down on the Faithful on Yawkee Way. The sweet smell of sausage and pepper floated through the sea of people and into my nose. This is one of my first trips to Fenway without having to hold anyone’s hand, and my mother was content with letting me explore. Stumbling through the crowd, I almost slam into a man persuasively shouting, “Peanuts!” He does his job, because moments later my mom is putting away her wallet and I am cracking open a salty shell. As we approach the gate, I reach my hand into my pocket and feel the rough, cardboard edges of my ticket and hand it to a man in a red shirt and blue hat.

Walking underneath the stands in Fenway, my head begins to spin. The floor is a dirt green color, and I imagine it must be the same floor from when the park opened, but, of course, with more beer soaked into the cracks. Passing the opening leading up to our section, my mom and I turn and head up the steep ramp. As we ascend the ramp into the stands, the aroma of hot dogs turns to something sacred, Fenway grass.

On that hot day, we were lucky to be in the grandstand towards the back, as we were in the shade. However, it was mid August and the Sox were falling out of the American League East behind the New York You-Know-Who’s. The “Faithful” were by no means at full strength. My mother suggested we move down to the better seats. Scared and reluctant at first, I followed her down the aisle to the box seat section.  Up about ten rows from the field behind the dugout, we found a pair of seats together and sat down. Not concentrating on the game I kept waiting for the rightful owners of the seats to come back and claim them.

They finally did. But to my pleasant surprise, the strangers did not mind and simply told us that those were their seats. We stood and started to frantically search the crowd for seats. Scanning the area, we spot one seat about five rows back and another single seat in the first row behind the dug out. I didn’t mind when my mother told me to go up front, and without hesitation I bounded down the aisle to the seat. Just as I was nestling into my new seat, the right fielder Trot Nixon bounded out of the dugout and into the batter’s box. “This is the closest I have ever been to the field,” I thought to myself. As Trot swung his bat, from this distance I could see his dirty uniform. The dirt and pine tar made me remember why he was my favorite player. He is one of the scrappiest ball players in the league and always plays with heart. As much as I loved him, my admiration for him would not last through the day.

At first, all that was visible was the neat afro peaking over the top of the dugout. Before I could realize who was under the “fro,” Pedro Martinez was peering over the dugout into the stands. I remember thinking that his nose was bigger in real life than it was on T.V. when he is pitching. Scrambling for words, I blurted out, “It’s hot out here, Pedro! Can I have some water!” The people in the stands around me laughed, but to everyone’s surprise, one of the most famous hands in Boston motioned to me and Pedro slipped out of view. Disappointed that the Sox’ ace was gone, I looked up at the scoreboard and began watching the game again. But then, as quickly as he had gone, a huge dark hand appeared above the dugout. It was Pedro, and he had a blue cup filled with water. And it was for me. I savored the water for as long as I could. The sun reflected off the sparkling clear water. As the first sip touched my lips, the cold water sent a chill down the back of my neck. When I finished the last tiny bit, I looked to see the wax covered cup had saved a single drop. I tilted my head back and held the cup above my mouth until I felt a tickle of coolness hit my tongue.

The game finally ended and my mother and I filed out of the park and into the street. When we got home, I immediately showed the cup to my brothers. They were impressed and both wanted to hold it. I gave it to my brother and as he held it, he asked me who had given it to me. “My favorite player,” I said.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.