Fenway Park!

On a memorable Saturday night, August 16th, we were fortunate enough to be a part of the Boston Red Sox pre-game ceremonies at Fenway Park.  We had kept the Red Sox up to date on our around-the-world trip, particularly the baseball aspect.  And they had helped us initially with a set of overseas contacts that we pursued to find the right groups to meet with.

Summer, 2008 439 We were lucky in that the night before’s game was rained out.  Our game had one brief shower around the third inning, but otherwise had gorgeous weather.  We got there early, and were able to go down on the field to watch batting practice.  Gibson got Vernon Wells’ autograph, and we got great looks at many of the players, including David Ortiz.  And I for one was relieved to go to Fenway without the prospect of watching Manny Ramirez, and loved watching Jason Bay.

Summer, 2008 461 Before the game, they put a few of the photographs from our trip up on the scoreboard.  I’m not sure how many of the fans knew what the context was, but it was exciting for us to see some of the kids we had given hats and equipment to featured at Fenway Park.   I wish that the many kids we had met along the way could have been there to see their own photos in an American baseball park.

Summer, 2008 465 The highlight of the night for us was having Gibson throw out the first pitch.  They gave him the choice of throwing from in front of the mound, or throwing from the regulation location.  He opted to throw from where the pro baseball players pitch.  The first pitch took place just a couple of minutes before the start of the game, so the park was almost at capacity.  And with more than 30,000 people looking on, Gibson wound up and threw a strike from the same mound where many great pitchers over the year have stared down at batters.  He left the field beaming, and it was a great moment for all of us.

Copy of IMG_2296[2] I got several e-mails during the game from friends who were at Fenway that night by coincidence and had watched the pre-game ceremony.  One came from Ross Garber, who was at the game with his son.  Ross lives in Austin, Texas, and I first met him when I invested in his company, Vignette, about ten years ago.  Vignette went on to be a big success, and Ross and I have stayed in good contact ever since.  He had tracked us on our trip, and it was great to have him at the game.  And they were sitting right on top of the Green Monster, and he was able to get this great picture of Gibson throwing out the first pitch.  Minutes later, Ross caught a home run hit by Alex Rios, so Ross had a great visit to Fenway.

Summer, 2008 468 The night at Fenway was a complete thrill for the four of us, and a great way to end the baseball phase of our trip around the world.  We thank the Red Sox organization for their enthusiasm for what we did, and we especially thank our contact, Adam Grossman, for his interest in our initiative, and his being kind enough to arrange for us to be part of August 16′s pre-game ceremonies.

Check out a video of Gibson’s first pitch or our Fenway Park picture album.

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