- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

BOSTON — Imagine the possibilities.

Carlton Fisk’s flailing arms guide his famed 1975 home run into the hands of an ecstatic Red Sox fan after the ball ricocheted high off the foul pole. Bucky Dent gets pegged as he rounds second base by a heartbroken Sox fan hurling the ball back onto the field after Dent’s homer ended Boston’s season in 1978. The 1999 All-Star Home Run Derby features Mark McGwire launching a then-record 13 home runs in a single round into and over a sea of lucky spectators instead of a lifeless 23-foot high net.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino imagined there had to be a more creative (and more profitable) way to guard Lansdowne Street from batted balls. The result: 275 of the best seats at Fenway Park and room for another 150 via standing-room-only tickets.

In their second year of operation, the “Monster Seats” have been the toughest ticket at Fenway Park. Fans have to sign up for a preseason lottery simply for the chance to shell out $70 to $110 a ticket. This season only 5 percent of applicants were selected to purchase tickets.

But for the money, fans atop the 37-foot high wall are getting more than a comfortable swivel chair seated at a spacious bar. They’re getting a fresh and unique perspective at a nearly century-old stadium.

Watching the game from the Green Monster is like sitting at an outdoor sports bar but with a far better television. In the Monster seats there is a mobility unfamiliar to Red Sox fans used to Fenway Park’s small seats, narrow aisles and awkward views.

Atop the Monster, ticket-holders roam throughout the game. They check out the view from the first row, leaning over the edge to get a glimpse of the wall from a new perspective. They observe the differences between watching the game from left-center field and looking down the line with a hand on the foul pole. They peer down onto Lansdowne Street wondering how many fans have come out of Fenway to find their car with a shattered window and a home run ball sitting on a seat.

The price to get such an opportunity drops to $25 for those willing to sacrifice the chair and the view of most of right field. Standing behind three rows of seats the view of the field isn’t as special, and there won’t be any mid-inning conversations with Manny Ramirez on the science of hitting or with Johnny Damon on his choice of hair products. But there will be plenty of disposable cash to spend at the two concession stands solely for Green Monster patrons.

Having dropped a small fortune just to get in the park and up the stairs, ticket holders should make the most of their trip by arriving in time for batting practice. Fans can enter the park two hours before the first pitch, which is enough time to watch the end of the Red Sox’s turn and all of the opposition’s. A team with some good right-handed power will deposit countless balls into the Monster seats. Smart positioning and a little luck go a long way in bringing home a souvenir, and the constant barrage of balls is more than enough to keep fans of any age entertained.

The view of the field changes dramatically from each row on the Monster. Even in the front row, fans can’t look directly down to see plays at the base of the wall because an overhang blocks the view. Plays in deep center and right field are difficult to see in the second and third rows. Seats closer to the left-field line give the best view of the entire park and are the best place to catch a home run during the game.

Aside from scalping tickets, the only way to get atop the Monster the rest of this season is to arrive at Fenway hours early and hope to buy standing-room-only tickets. Fans are allowed to line up for day-of-game tickets five hours before the first pitch, but the ticket office doesn’t open until an hour before the game. The wait is worth it for any baseball fan interested in seeing a game at a classic stadium in a brand new way.

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