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The Student News Site of Oakmont Regional High School

The Oakmonitor

The Student News Site of Oakmont Regional High School

The Oakmonitor

Forbes and Ahearn Earn Boston Globe Sports Writing Awards: Click to see submissions

Forbes+wins+second+place%2C+Ahearn+wins+Honorable+Mention
Forbes wins second place, Ahearn wins Honorable Mention

Bleacher section 41

By Ben Forbes

It’s a chilly evening in April 2014, and you were just a second-grader when your dad purchased bleacher seats in section 41 for your very first Red Sox game. The excitement was palpable. The Red Sox had recently clinched their third World Series title of the 2000s, and you couldn’t wait to see them in action. As you made your way to Fenway Park, you couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the experience. You were too young to comprehend the intricacies of baseball, let alone the technicalities of payroll, luxury tax, and team performance. All you knew was that you would experience Fenway Park for the first time, and you were thrilled to be sharing the moment with your dad.

When you arrived, you were struck by the beauty of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark. Emerging from the bleacher tunnel, the entire field is stretched out before you, and you realize that everything was smaller than you had imagined, except for the imposing Green Monster.  You had a hot dog in your hand, and Wally was painted on your face. You were ready to experience the magic of Fenway Park. The game began, and you cheered on the Red Sox with all your might. You sang along to “Sweet Caroline” and told your dad to stop screaming “Dirty Water” after the win. As you drove home and went off to sleep, you knew you had experienced something truly special. You wished you could go back to section 41 and relive the experience all over again.

2019 brings you back to Kenmore Square and the towering Citgo sign. It is a Monday in mid-April and an 11:00 am start. The remembered motto ‘Boston Strong’ echoes in the streets summoning memories of Big Papi’s inspirational speech of this great city more than the tragic memories of a bloodied Boylston Street.  The pregame ceremony embodies an eerie, somber mix of anger, respect, and pride within the stadium. The anthem resonates a little louder and a little deeper that day in Section 41. The game begins, but you think back to 2013 and Daniel Nava’s home run hit into the bullpen – the first game since the tragedy. Boosting a season unlike any other, for a purpose greater than any other, and for fans better than any other.

You return to Fenway several more times in 2019. In a season that felt like the hangover of a World Series party the October before, you are thrilled you got to watch Chris Sale strike out 17 against the Rockies and have yet another positive Fenway experience from section 41. 

In my sophomore year, the 2021 postseason, the Fenway faithful were still reeling from the departure of Mookie Betts the year before,but the Red Sox were playing good baseball In October. Something that should be expected every year. It was Game 5 of the ALDS, and it was your brother’s last Red Sox game before he was sent to Okinawa to serve the country. You watched as the Red Sox clinched an ALDS series victory together in section 41.

You, like so many passionate sports fans, crave winning again. Without the payroll and ownership, you are still that boy with his dad and a hot dog simply wanting back the real Fenway experience you used to know. When the ownership seemed focused on a championship and everyone around you knew it was only a matter of time until they start winning again.

Now, as you get ready for another season of Red Sox baseball, you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. There is a lot of uncertainty around the organization right now, but you know that you’ll be watching from the same spot. You’ll be there with your dad one night – well, several nights – a friend the other, and you’re even willing to go alone. So that you can feel the true Fenway experience from Bleacher section 41.

The Seeds of Greatness 

Boston Globe Will McDonough Contest  – Honorable Mention

Gage Ahearn 

It was first and five. A new quarterback had stepped onto the field and was ready to take an under-center snap. He gets the snap, drops back, and flings it back up to the line of scrimmage, where his running back is. The football bounces off his receiver’s helmet and lands on the turf, second and five.

Was this play not the greatest moment in sports history? Admittedly, it is the type of play that occurs all the time. Trying to find a game without an incompletion is impossible in football as we know it, so how could anyone dare call it the greatest moment in sports?

When you think of greatness, chances are that you imagine a moment that left you in awe, gawking at where you stood. You may think of Julian Edelman’s ridiculous Super Bowl catch, or Rob Gronkowski’s deep reception to set up a game-winning touchdown a few Super Bowls later. You certainly don’t think of a random regular season incompletion in which the quarterback’s team would ultimately be blown out by a score of 34-9 by the Detroit Lions – not a play in a season in which the Patriots finished last in their division and were nowhere near a playoff berth.

Sports – and I don’t just mean Football – are less like a series of events, or a collection of games and seasons, but rather a single journey, and every journey starts somewhere. The threads that emotionally link millions of people to their favorite teams are far too strong to be cut by the end of a competition. With every gameday, every article published, every controversy sparked, the story of the sport grows thicker, and we’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. People such as myself do not suit up or get stretched out for games, but even I am a part of this magnificent story, as I make myself a bowl of cereal and sit in my Patriots pajamas before the television every Sunday afternoon.

I’ll concede; I also do love to relive those great moments, watching in horrible suspense, only to shoot off my couch like a snow-covered miracle off of Adam Vinateri’s foot. But what would such a moment or championship miracle mean if it weren’t built upon a series of plays of seemingly lesser importance? What if there was no journey or shaky start to grow from? If we had no taste of regret or defeat, it would be impossible to truly know how wonderful it feels to triumph.

Everyone knows that our mistakes make us stronger. If a quarterback comes onto the field and throws a bad pass, it does not make him a lesser quarterback. In fact, upon making a poor play, he may very well be driven to do better. This is especially true in the case of our aforementioned quarterback, who made an anything-but-notable first pass attempt. Judging by a single moment, it is impossible to determine the legacy that a player may leave behind. I can guarantee that he remembered this dropped pass and countless others even as he went on to win seven Super Bowl titles.

The same things could be said about the head coach, who was a new addition to the team that very same year. This coach had lost the first game, and would only win five that season. That surely left a foul taste in his mouth, and over the next two decades, he made sure to wash it out. Bill Belichick knew that true greatness comes from a system of smaller parts that each fulfill their function. It is not just skill players who create amazing sports moments, rather it is every player fulfilling their purpose. Sure, it may be more fun to watch the backfield on trick plays, but just as much thought goes into the less flashy big guys on the line. Similar to an incompletion, a pass block might not be the most entertaining thing to watch, but it is absolutely an integral part of pulling off a great play.

In my life as a Boston Sports fan, I have felt truly blessed to watch these seeds grow.

 

 

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