Sunday, November 9, 2014
How to Be a Devils Fan In Boston -- 2014-15 Edition
Tomorrow night, the Devils -- what's left of them, anyway --head up I-95 to face the Beantown Brats.
Some of you are Yankee Fans who hate the Red Sox. Some of you are Jet fans who hate the Patriots. Some of you are Red Bulls fans who hate the Revolution. Some of you are Knick fans, some of you are Net fans, and probably both sets of you hate the Celtics.
I've always felt that there was something less hateful about the Bruins. After all, they were the 1st American team in the NHL. They were the team of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. They, even more than the Chicago Blackhawks of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, and the Detroit Red Wings of Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio, made it cool to be both an American and a hockey fan.
But they're still a New England team, and they still must go down.
But, as they're still a Boston team, you need to be on your guard.
Before You Go. Boston weather is a little different from ours, being a little bit further north. Mark Twain, who lived the last few years of his life in nearby Hartford, said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.”
You should check the websites of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald before you leave. Usually, the temperatures will be a little lower than what we're used to in New York and New Jersey at the same time. At least, being indoors, wind will not be the issue that it sometimes is inside Fenway Park. For the moment, they're predicting mid-50s for the afternoon and low 40s at night.
Do not want to wear is the kind of T-shirt you see sold at the souvenir stands on River Avenue across from Yankee Stadium, with messages like “BAHSTON SAWKS CACK” or “There never was a curse, the Sox just sucked for 86 years!” If you have one (or more) of these, leave them at home. The Chowdaheads are already antagonized by our mere presence in their city, and there's no reason to make it that much worse. Bald Vinny will thank you for your patronage, but he's smart enough to remind you that there is a time and a place where his product is inappropriate.
Boston is in the Eastern Time Zone, so adjusting your watch and your smartphone clock is not necessary. And, of course, despite the silliness of the concept of “Red Sox Nation,” you do not need a passport to cross the New Haven City Line, or to change your money.
Tickets. Even in the 1960s, when the Bruins stunk and the Celtics were winning title after title, it was the Bruins who hit the Boston Garden's official capacity of 13,909 every game (with standing room not reported due to fire laws, while the Celtics found it only half-full. (Gee, could it have been because the Bruins were all-white and the Celtics half-black?) Throughout my youth, with both teams in the Playoffs just about every season, the Bruins always hit the listed capacity of 14,448 and the Celtics 14,890.
Opened in 1995, the building now named the TD Garden (TD is a bank, Toronto-Dominion) seats 17,565 for hockey, slightly less than the Prudential Center, and 18,624 for basketball. The Bruins are averaging a sellout every night; the Celtics, slightly under that. So tickets will still be hard to get.
As with Fenway Park, tickets at TD Garden cost a bundle -- law of supply & demand. In the lower level, the Loge, seats are $194 between the goals and $128 to $180 behind them. In the upper level, the balcony, they're $76 to $156 throughout.
Getting There. Getting to Boston is fairly easy. However, I do not recommend driving, especially if you have Yankee paraphernalia on your car (bumper sticker, license-plate holder, decals, etc.). Chances are, it won’t get vandalized... but you never know.
If you must drive, it’s 214 miles by road from Times Square to Boston’s Downtown Crossing, 225 miles from the Prudential Center to the TD Garden.
Presuming that, like most Devils fans, you're starting from New Jersey, take the Turnpike to Exit 18E and the George Washington Bridge, where you'll pick up Interstate 95, which will become the Cross Bronx Expressway and then, after turning north and moving outside The City, the New England Thruway (or the New England Extension of the New York State Thruway).
Continue on I-95 North into Connecticut to Exit 48 in New Haven, and take Interstate 91 North toward Hartford. When you reach Hartford, take Exit 29 to Interstate 84, which you will take into Massachusetts, all the way to its end, where it merges with Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike. (And the locals call it “the Mass Pike” – never “the Turnpike” like we do in New Jersey.)
Theoretically, you could take I-95 all the way, but that will take you though downtown Providence, Rhode Island, up to the Boston suburbs. I like Providence as a city, but that route is longer by both miles and time than the route described above.
Fenway Park, or at least its light towers, will be visible from the Mass Pike. The last exit on the Pike is Exit 24B. Follow the signs for "Head Concord NH"/"Interstate 93 N." I-93 becomes the Tip O'Neill Tunnel, then get off at Exit 23 (this is for I-93, not I-95), keep right at the fork, and follow the signs for the North End and North Station, which is under the arena, just as New York's Penn Station is under Madison Square Garden. (In fact, the old Boston Garden/North Station complex may have been the inspiration for the "new" MSG/Penn Station.)
If all goes well, and you make one rest stop (preferably around Hartford, roughly the halfway point), and you don’t get seriously delayed by traffic within the city limits of either New York or Boston (either of which is very possible), you should be able to make the trip in under 5 hours.
But, please, do yourself a favor and get a hotel outside the city. It's not just that hotels in Boston proper are expensive, unless you want to try one of the thousands of bed-and-breakfasts with their communal bathrooms. It's also that Boston drivers are said to come in 2 classes, depending on how big their car is: Homicidal and suicidal. If you're just going for the one game, then find a park-and-ride for the subway. For example, Exit 14 will take you to Riverside Station in Newton, the terminal for the Green Line D Train. From there, it's a 40-minute ride to the Garden.
Boston, like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, is too close to fly from New York, and once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, it doesn’t really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train. It certainly won't save you any money.
The train is a very good option. Boston’s South Station is at 700 Atlantic Avenue, corner of Summer Street, at Dewey Square. (Named for Admiral George Dewey, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, not New York Governor and 1944 & ’48 Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, and not for former Red Sox right fielder Dwight “Dewey” Evans, either.) It’ll be $214 round-trip between Newark's Penn Station and South Station, $226 between New York's Penn Station and South Station. Either one should get you there in less than 5 hours.
South Station also has a bus terminal attached, and it may be the best bus station in the country – even better than New York’s Port Authority. If you take Greyhound, you’ll leave from Port Authority’s Gate 84, and it will take about 4½ hours, most likely making one stop, at Hartford’s Union Station complex, or in the Boston suburbs of Framingham, Worcester or Newton. New York to Boston and back is tremendously cheaper on the bus than on the train, usually $85 round-trip (dropping to less than half that, $35, with advanced purchase), and is probably Greyhound’s best run. On the way back, you’ll board at South Station’s Gate 3.
Once In the City. Named for the town of the same name (a shortened version of "St. Botolph's Stone") in Lincolnshire, in England's East Midlands, Boston is home to about 650,000 people, with a metropolitan area (including the areas of Hartford, Providence, and Manchester, New Hampshire) of about 7.6 million, making it the largest metro area in the country with only 1 MLB team (trailing only the 2-team areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area).
Boston is easily the largest city not just in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but in all of New England. The next-largest are Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island, each with around 180,000. The largest in Connecticut is Bridgeport with 145,000; New Hampshire's largest is Manchester with 110,000; Maine's is Portland with 66,000, and Vermont's is Burlington with a mere 42,000. Of New England's 100 largest cities and towns, 53 are in Massachusetts, 30 in Connecticut, 9 in Rhode Island, 4 in New Hampshire, 3 in Maine and 1, Burlington, in Vermont; only 2 of the top 17 are outside Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Counting New England as a whole -- except for the southwestern part of Connecticut, which tilts toward New York -- there are about 13.5 million people in "Red Sox Nation." This isn't even close to the top, when "markets" are viewed this liberally -- the Yankees have close to 20 million in theirs, and the Atlanta Braves lead with over 36 million -- but it does rank 7th out of 30 MLB markets, and aside from the Yankees none of the pre-expansion teams has as big a market.
Boston is also one of the oldest cities in America, founded in 1630, and the earliest to have been truly developed. (New York is actually older, 1626, but until City Hall was built and the grid laid out in 1811 it was pretty much limited to the 20 or so blocks from the Battery to Chambers Street.) It's got the history: The colonial era, the Revolutionary period its citizens did so much to make possible, the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, Massachusetts' role in that conflict, the Industrial Revolution. Aside from New York, it was the only city on the Eastern Seaboard to have grasped the concept of the skyscraper until the 1980s.
It also has America's first college, Harvard University, across the Charles River in Cambridge, and a few other institutions of higher learning of some renown in or near the city: Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, Tufts University, College of the Holy Cross, and so on. The particular instance of Harvard, funded by Boston's founding families, resulted in Boston and the surrounding area having a lot of "old money." And then there's all those Massachusetts-based writers.
All this gives Boston an importance, and a self-importance, well beyond its interior population. One of those aforementioned writers, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (grandfather of the great Supreme Court Justice of the same name), named the city "the Hub of the Solar System"; somehow, this became "the Hub of the Universe" or just "The Hub." Early 19th Century journalist William Tudor called Boston "the Athens of America" -- but, as a Harvard man, he would have studied ancient Greece and realized that, while contributing greatly to the political and literary arts, Athens could be pretty dictatorial, warmongering, and slavery-tolerating at times. Later sportswriters have called the Sox-Yanks (in that order) rivalry "Athens and Sparta." (Remember, if not for Sparta, all of Greece would have fallen to the Persian Empire.)
Well, to hell with that: We are New York/New Jersey Fans. We are based in, or around, the greatest city in the world, and we don't even have to capitalize that.
The sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent, less than New Jersey’s 7 percent and New York City’s 8.875 percent. However, aside from that, pretty much everything in Boston and neighboring cities like Cambridge, Brookline and Quincy costs about as much as it does in New York City, and more than in the NYC suburbs. In other words, a bundle. So don't get sticker-shock.
When you get to South Station, if you haven't already read The Boston Globe on your laptop or smartphone, pick it up. It's a great paper with one of the country’s best sports sections. There’s probably no paper that covers its local baseball team better, although the columns of Dan Shaughnessy (who did not coin but certainly popularized the phrase “The Curse of the Bambino” and wrote a book with the title) and Tony Massarotti (who started at the rival Herald and whose style is more in line with theirs) can be a bit acerbic.
You will also be able to pick up the New York papers at South Station, if you want any of them. If you must, you can also buy the Boston Herald, but it’s a tabloid, previously owned by William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch. Although neither’s man's company still owns it, it carries all the hallmarks of the papers that they have owned (Murdoch still owns the New York Post, the Hearst Corporation owned the New York Journal and its successor, the New York Journal-American, which went out of business in 1966). In other words, the Herald is a right-wing pack of sensationalism, frequently sloppy journalism, and sometimes outright lies, but at least it does sports well (sometimes).
Once you have your newspapers, take the escalator down to the subway. Boston had the nation’s first subway service, in 1897, along Boston Common on what’s now named the Green Line. Formerly known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, leading to the folk song “MTA,” in 1965 it became the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), or “the T,” symbolized by the big T signs where many cities, including New York, would have M’s instead.
(Here's a link to the most familiar version of the song, done by the Kingston Trio in 1959. Keep in mind that Scollay Square station is now named Government Center, and that the reason Mrs. Charlie doesn't give him the extra nickel along with the sandwich isn't that she keeps forgetting, but that they're acting on principle, protesting the 5-cent exit fare -- my, how times have changed.)
Boston was one of the last cities to turn from subway tokens to farecards, in 2006, a decade after New York's switch was in progress. A ride costs $2.50 with cash, the same as New York's subway, and if you're there for the entire series, it may be cheaper to get a 7-day pass for $18. (The MBTA 1-day pass is $11, so the 7-day pass is a better option.)
There are 4 lines: Red, Green, Orange and Blue. Don't worry about the Silver Line: That's basically an underground bus service designed to get people to Logan International Airport. (General Edward L. Logan was a South Bostonian who became a hero of World War I and then the commander of the Massachusetts National Guard. Boston kept the name on their airport in spite of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, leaving New York to name an airport after that great Bostonian.) Chances are, you won’t be using the Blue Line at all on your trip, and the Orange Line might not be used, either.
It's important to remember that Boston doesn't have an "Uptown" and "Downtown" like Manhattan, or a "North Side," "East Side," "South Side" or "West Side" like many other cities. It does have a North End and a South End (which should not be confused with the neighborhood of South Boston); and it has an East Boston, although the West End was mostly torn down in the late 1950s to make way for the sprawling complex of the new Massachusetts General Hospital. Note also that Boston doesn't have a "centerpoint," where all the street addresses start at 1 and move out in 100-segments for each block. It doesn't even remotely have a north-south, east-west street grid like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and so on.
So for subway directions, remember this: Any train heading toward Downtown Crossing (where the Red and Orange Lines intersect), Park Street (Red and Green Lines), State Street (Blue and Orange Lines) or Government Center (Blue and Green Lines), is "Inbound." Any train going away from those 4 downtown stations is "Outbound." This led to a joke that certain Red Sox pitchers who give up a lot of home runs have "been taken downtown more than the Inbound Red Line."
I should point out that Government Center station is closed for renovations until late 2016, which is a major pain since it's a key interchange. For anything that could be reached by that station, such as City Hall of Faneuil Hall, use State station.
South Station is on the Red Line. If you’re coming by Amtrak or Greyhound, and are up only for the one game and are going directly to Fenway, take the Red Line to Park Street – known locally as “Change at Park Street Under” (or “Change at Pahk Street Undah” in the local dialect) – and then take the Green Line toward Lechmere. Although not labeled as such, this could be the "A train," as the ones going outbound are the B (terminating at Boston College and having that on its marquee), C (Cleveland Circle), D (Riverside) or E (Huntington Avenue) trains. If you’re starting your Garden voyage from a hotel, take any train that gets you to a transfer point to a Green Line train. It can also be reached from the Orange Line.
Going In. The building was originally named the Shawmut Center, named for a bank, which in turn was named for the original Native American name for the land on which Boston now sits. Before it could open, Fleet Bank bought out Shawmut, and the building opened in 1995 as the FleetCenter (1 word). In 2005, TD bought out Fleet, and it became the TD Banknorth Garden, before becoming simply the TD Garden in 2009.
The station for the Garden is "North Station" -- the Boston Garden name is no longer part of it. With the old Garden, the Orange Line was underground while the Green Line was elevated. In a 1986 Sports Illustrated article, Boston native Leigh Montville said the spot underneath the Green Line in front of the Garden was the wettest spot on Earth. Now, both lines are underground.
The address of the old Boston Garden was 150 Causeway Street. The address of the new TD Garden is 100 Legends Way. It's roughly the same spot, but the old Garden was on Causeway, while the new Garden was built behind it, and the old one was demolished for a parking lot for the new one.
The entrances to North Station are on the east and west sides, and escalators will take you from the Station to the Garden. The rink is laid out east-to-west, and the Bruins attack twice toward the west end. If you visited the old Garden but not the new one, you'll be happy to know the new one has no obstructing support poles, the upper deck doesn't block the view of people sitting in the last few rows of the lower level, and the only rats are the men wearing Bruin uniforms -- and a few of the people cheering them on. No actual rodents are running around the place.
In addition to the Bruins, the Garden (like its predecessor before it) hosts the Beanpot Tournament, a 4-sided college hockey tourney featuring Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard. Next week, it's going to host a Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tripleheader, featuring all Bay State schools: Northeastern vs. BU, BC vs. the University of Massachusetts (UMass), and Harvard vs. Holy Cross.
The Beatles played the old Garden on September 12, 1964. Elvis Presley played it on November 10, 1971. Upcoming concerts at the new Garden include Usher, and legends Stevie Wonder, Cher and Bob Seger. It's also hosted the 2004 Democratic Convention.
Food. Dunkin Donuts started in the Boston suburbs, and has stands inside the TD Garden. What else do you need to know?
Okay, okay. The Frank House serves customized hot dogs (behind Sections 3, 10, 14, 21, 302, 308, 310, 315, 317, 324 and 327). The Links Grill offers "Old World Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and a Jumbo All Beef Dog with your favorite toppings" (17, 310, 322, 330). They have a Back Bay Carvery with roast beef and turkey sandwiches (8 and 323). They have Sal's Pizza (6, 307 and 325), a Kosher Café (4), and West End Brew, with "Crispy Chicken Tenders, a bucket of Spicy Cheese Fries, and a soon-to-be Garden favorite – Lobster Rangoon" (8 and 19). For dessert, Sweet Spot is behind 309.
Team History Displays. Unlike the Celtics, who hang only their 17 NBA Championship banners, the Bruins hang banners for their sub-Cup titles. However, they've made it a bit less ridiculous by hanging one banner for each:
* 25 Division Championships: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. (Note that they won the Cup in 1970, but did not finish 1st in their Division.)
* 2 President's Trophies for best record in the regular season: 1990 and 2014.
* 17 Prince of Wales Trophies for best record in the League in the regular season 1925-70, then best record in the Eastern Division 1970-82, then Eastern Conference Championship since 1982: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1988, 1990, 2011 and 2013.
* 4 Conference Championship (not counting pre-1982 Finals appearances): 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013.
Then, there are the separate banners for their 6 Stanley Cups: 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972 and 2011.
There are 24 players who played at least 5 seasons for the Bruins and have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame -- plus 5 men elected to the Hall in the "Builders" category. Actually, 4: While Art Ross was head coach and general manager for the Bruins' 1st 3 Cup wins, he was elected as a player for the old Montreal Wanderers. But founding owner Charles Adams, his son Weston Adams -- yes, both of the John Adams family -- Garden President (and thus Celtics and Bruins owner) Walter Brown, and longtime GM Harry Sinden were elected as Bruins executives.
But most of those honorees do not have honors visible from the seating area of the Garden. The Bruins have, however, honored 10 players with the retirement of their uniform numbers. 2, 1930s defenseman Eddie Shore; 3, 1920s and '30s defenseman Lionel Hitchman; 4, 1970s defenseman Bobby Orr; 5, 1930s and '40s left wing Dit Clapper; 7, 1970s center Phil Esposito; 8, 1980s and '90s right wing Cam Neely; 9, 1960s and '70s left wing Johnny Bucyk; 15, 1940s center Milt Schmidt; 24, 1970s right wing Terry O'Reilly; and 77, 1980s and '90s defenseman Ray Bourque. Unusual among major league sports teams, the Bruins' retired number banners have full first names and initials: "Aubrey V. Clapper," "Robert G. Orr," and so on.
The Garden is also home to The Sports Museum of New England, encompassing all sports in the 6-State area; and a statue commemorating the overtime goal that Orr scored to win the 1970 Cup. There are statues of Celtics legends Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, but they're elsewhere.
Stuff. The Bruins Pro Shop reminds you that, even though the Celtics are by far the more successful team, the Bruins have always been the owners of the Garden (old and new). Anything black and gold takes precedence inside over anything green and white. Nevertheless, both Bruin and Celtic items are available.
Books about the Red Sox are plentiful; the other Boston-area teams, less so. But a few books about the Bruins can be found. Number 4 recently published Orr: My Story, and, while it's not going to make anyone say, "Ha! He really ripped that guy" -- except for his treacherous former agent, Alan Eagleson, who absolutely deserved it -- it is one of the 3 best hockey players who ever lived offering a view into his life and mind, and the respect for the game that made him famous (but not as rich as it could have, due to Eagleson) slides off the page. It's not the most in-depth look at the Bruins of Orr's era, 1966 to 1976, but it might be the best. Along with Peter Golenbock, who usually does this sort of thing with baseball players, Orr's teammate (and later Ranger) Phil Esposito wrote Thunder and Lightning: A No-B.S. Hockey Memoir.
Other eras of Bruin history can be found in: Dit: Dit Clapper and the Rise of the Boston Bruins by Stewart F. Richardson and Richard J. LeBlanc; The Boston Bruins: Celebrating 75 Years (published in 1998, so they're now at 90) by sportscaster Clark Booth and Steve Babineau; and The Killer B's: The Boston Bruins Capture Their First Stanley Cup in 39 Years, by the staff of The Boston Globe.
There are DVDs that may be of interest. While the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup Finals broadcasts do not survive intact, the 2001 Finals are available as a DVD package. The package NHL Original Six: History of the Boston Bruins is available, and so is The Best of Bobby Orr.
The Globe staff put together, and sat for interviews for, Boston's Greatest Sports Stories: Behind the Headlines. I have this DVD, and it's fantastic, even if you don't like the teams involved. It has Dan Shaughnessy, Leigh Montville, Bud Collins, Jackie MacMullan and others telling it like it was about the Sox, the Pats, the C's, the B's, and other local sports moments, ranging from the joyous (the 2004 Sox triumph had just happened when it was made) to the sorrowful (the deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis), from the sublime (Orr, Carl Yastrzemski, Tom Brady, Larry Bird) to the ridiculous (Rosie Ruiz, that blackout at the old Garden during the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals).
During the Game. I swear, I am not making this up: The most unsafe I have ever felt at a sporting event wasn't at a home game for the Mets, or the Rangers, or the Eagles, or the Flyers, or even the Red Sox. It was at a Devils' visit to the Boston Garden in its final season, 1995. This was the game where Marius Czerkawski scored a hat trick; Adam Oates tallied a goal and 5 assists; Martin Brodeur got pulled for Chris Terreri in the 2nd period of a 7-2 loss; and Claude Lemieux took a cheap shot at Cam Neely, newly-returned from injury.
The crowd, already not good-looking, got really ugly. Then Neely started whaling on Claudie, who turtled to the ice, and the fans roared their approval as Neely slugged away. I made the mistake of standing up, wearing a Devils cap and a red-and-black-striped shirt (I didn't yet have a Devils jersey), and had everything from popcorn to bottlecaps to wadded up scorecards thrown at me. The language that flowed from those Bostonian mouths was sulfurous.
If the Devils had won that game, I don't know if I would have made it back to South Station in one piece. To make matters worse, it was really chilly that day and night, and I brought a smaller jacket that I usually would have, figuring a bigger one wouldn't fit under one of the Garden's 1928 seats. And I caught a cold that lasted 6 weeks. (Amazingly, before the cold went away, the Devils eliminated the Bruins from the Playoffs, and won the last sporting event that counted in the 67-year-old barn.)
In 2006, I once again had the right combination of money, time and courage, and saw another Devils game away to the Bruins. This time, in the new Garden, it was a completely different story: There were a lot more Devils fans in the place (winning 3 Stanley Cups can do that), the Bruin fans accepted our presence (the fact that they weren't doing well at the time may have had something to do with it), there were no incidents on the ice or in the stands, and the Devils won 4-1. And I stayed overnight, at a bad hotel across from the Garden, and didn't catch a cold.
Since then, of course, the Bruins have reached 2 Finals and won a Cup, and they've also seen their teams in the other sports be the best in the league. So their fans have been feeling a bit cockier.
So safety could be an issue. This isn't like soccer games in Europe or South America, where fans of the visiting team are all put together in one or two sections, to keep the home fans from physically assaulting them -- one of the few instances where segregation is a good thing. If a fan near you wants to engage in civil discussion, by all means, engage back. If not, get a feel for those around you, to see if they're going to be okay, before you start talking to any of them. Most likely, if you behave yourself, so will they. If you simply support your team, and lay off theirs, you should be all right.
Because, let’s face it, like any other group of people, there’s always a 1 percent (or less) who ruin it for the other 99 percent. The type of people parodied in the Saturday Night Live sketch “The Boston Teens” (featuring Jimmy Fallon before he played a Sox fan in the U.S. version of Fever Pitch) were, in the Pedro Martinez era (1998-2004), too young to remember 1986, let alone 1978, 1975, 1967, or Boston’s agonizing close calls of the late 1940s -- or the Bruin titles of the 1970s and the close calls of the 1980s, or the Celtics' down period around the time of the arena changeover, or the Pats' Victor Kiam era before Bill Parcells revived them.
These fans, these Townies, the British would call them “chavs” (and no American city is chavvier than Boston, at least not that I know of), really didn’t deserve the Sox victories of 2004, 2007 or 2013; the Pats victories of 2002, 2004, and 2005; the Celtics title of 2008; or the Bruins title of 2011 and near-title of 2013 -- and yet they’re the first to brag about them.
So if the Bruin fans around you just want to talk, by all means, talk with them. But keep it on a civil level. If they don’t want to antagonize you, why antagonize them? These are not the Townies: They’re hockey fans first and Bruin fans second. So be a hockey fan first and a Devils Fan second. It’s worth it.
John Kiley, the organist at the Garden and Fenway Park -- and thus the answer to the trivia question, "Who played for the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins?" -- would play "Paree" (about World War I veterans: "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?") as the Bruins came onto the ice to start a period, and it is sometimes still played at Bruins games. Now, their entry song is "Cochise" by Audioslave. "The Game" by Motorhead is played before the opening faceoff.
The Dropkick Murphys, who revived the century-old Red Sox anthem "Tessie," have recorded a cover of "Nutty," the Ventures' 1960s reworking of "The Nutcracker Suite," which was used as the theme song for Bruins telecasts starting in 1967. They also wrote "Time to Go" as a Bruins rally song, and their songs "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" and "The Boys Are Back" are also played at Bruins games. The Bruins' goal song is "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation, and, like the Red Sox, their postgame victory song is "Dirty Water" by the Standells -- who, like the song's composer, Bob Cobb, were from Los Angeles, nowhere near Boston.
Blades the Bruin, an anthropomorphic bear, bear serves as the Bruins' team mascot. In January and February, Blades travels around the greater Boston area to raise money for the Bruins Foundation. For a sizable amount of the team's more recent TV and online ads, a different anthropomorphic ursine character simply known as "The Bear" appears in official Bruins video advertising.
After the Game. Win or lose, get out of the arena and back to your hotel (or to South Station or the park-and-ride you parked at, if you came up just for the day) as quickly and as quietly as possible. This will require you to be on the streets of Boston, and, unless you can get a taxi (don’t count on it), to take the Green Line in one direction or the other.
You’ll have to take some verbal on the streets and especially on the subway. Respond as little as possible. This is a good time to observe the advice of the great football coach Paul Brown: “When you win, say little; and when you lose, say less.”
Chances are, no one will try to pick a fight with you, or damage your Devils gear (by spilling a drink on it, or worse). Most Bruins fans, regardless of how much they’ve had to drink, will not fight. And if they see Devils fans ready to defend each other, they could very well back off entirely.
Perhaps the best way to avoid a confrontation is to stay at your seat for as long as the Garden ushers will let you. This is a tactic used in European and Latin American soccer, with stadium stewards keeping the visiting fans in their section until the entire rest of the stadium is emptied of home supporters, to minimize the chance of hooliganism. This will also allow the crowd to thin out a little and make it easier to leave the park, regardless of the level of aggression.
Another way to avoid any unpleasantness is to find a bar where New Yorkers not only hang out, but are left alone. Easier said than done, right? Well, just as the Riviera Café off Sheridan Square in the West Village and Professor Thom’s on 2nd Avenue in the East Village are New Englander-friendly bars in New York, there are places in Boston that welcome New Yorkers and New Jerseyans.
The following establishments were mentioned in a Boston Globe profile during the 2009 World Series: Champions, at the Marriott Copley Place hotel at 110 Huntington Avenue (Green Line to Copley); The Sports Grille, at 132 Canal Street (across from North Station and the Garden, Green Line to North Station); and, right across from Fenway itself, Game On! at 82 Lansdowne Street. I’ve also heard that Jillian’s, across from Fenway at 145 Ipswich Street, takes in Yankee Fans, but I’ve only seen it rammed with Chowdaheads, so I would advise against it.
The local Giants fan club meets at The Greatest Bar – a name, if not an apt description – is at 262 Friend Street off Canal, a block from the Garden. The Green Briar Pub, at 304 Washington Street in the Brighton section of town, is the local home of Jets fans. (Green Line to Kenmore, then switch to Number 57 bus toward Watertown Yard, get off at Washington Street at Waldo Terrace.) However, there's so little overlap between the MLB and NFL seasons that showing up at either place with a Yankee cap on a non-NFL gameday may not be a good idea.
Several noted drinking emporiums are near TD Garden. Perhaps the most famous, and once rated the best sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated, is The Fours, at 166 Canal Street. It’s named for “the Miracle of the Fours”: 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, overtime (therefore the 4th period), winning goal scored by Number 4, Bobby Orr, while tripped up by Noel Picard, Number 4 of the St. Louis Blues, to clinch the Bruins’ 4th Stanley Cup. (Some people like to point out that it was Orr's 4th goal of the Finals, but this is incorrect: It was his 1st.) McGann’s isn't exactly New York Tri-State Area-friendly, but it is close to the Garden, at 197 Portland Street.
But the 2 most famous Boston sports-related bars will be unavailable to you: The Eliot Lounge, in the Eliot Hotel at the convenient intersection of Massachusetts & Commonwealth Avenues, closed in 1996; while Daisy Buchanan's, postgame home to many a Boston and visiting athlete, closes today -- at its original location, anyway: 240 Newbury Street at Fairfield. It's a development issue, and the owner says he's going to try to reopen the bar, named for The Great Gatsby's lost love, elsewhere. Bruins star turned broadcaster Derek Sanderson was one of the original 1969 owners.
Sidelights. Boston is probably America’s best sports city, per-capita, and the number of sports-themed sites you might want to check out is large:
* Solomon Court at Cabot Center. This is part of Northeastern University’s athletic complex, and was the site of the Huntington Avenue Grounds, the only other home the Boston Red Sox have ever known, from their founding in 1901 to 1911. When the Sox won the first World Series in 1903, it was clinched here. At roughly the spot where the pitcher’s mound was, there is a statue of Cy Young, who pitched for the Sox in their 1903 and 1904 World Championship seasons. Huntington Avenue at Forsyth Street. Green Line E train to Northeastern.
* South End Grounds. This is still the most successful baseball location in Boston history. It was home to 3 ballparks, all named the Sound End Grounds. In 1871, the first such park was built there, and was home to the Boston Red Stockings of the first professional baseball league, the National Association. This team featured half the members of the first openly professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (hence the name), and also had a young pitcher named Al Spalding, who would later co-found the team now known as the Chicago Cubs and the sporting-goods empire that still bears his name. Those Boston Red Stockings team won Pennants in 1872, ’73, ’74 and ’75, and its strength (domination, really) was one of the reasons the NA collapsed.
When the National League was founded in 1876, the Red Stockings were a charter member. They won Pennants in 1877 and ’78, and by the time they won the 1883 Pennant, they were popularly known as the “Boston Beaneaters.” No, I'm not making that name up. Building a new park on the site in 1888, they won Pennants in 1891, ’92 and ’93. But on May 15, 1894, in a game against the NL version of the Baltimore Orioles, a fight broke out, and no one noticed that some kids had started a fire in the right-field seats. (Or maybe it was the ashes of a grown man’s cigar. Both have been suggested, probably nobody knew for sure.) It became known as the Great Roxbury Fire, and the story goes that the park and 117 (or 170, or 200) buildings burned to the ground, and 1,900 people were left homeless – but nobody died. (I don’t buy that last part at all.)
A new park was hastily built on the site, while the Beaneaters temporarily played at the home of the city’s team in the 1890 Players’ League. This last South End Grounds hosted the Braves' 1897 and '98 Pennant winners, and lasted until 1914, when, with the team now called the Braves (owner James Gaffney had been a “Brave,” or officer, in New York’s Tammany Hall political organization), decided it was too small for the crowds the team was now attracting. So he moved the team to Fenway, and played their 1914 World Series games there, and opened Braves Field the next season. Overall, 12 Pennants were won here, in a 44-year span -- one more than the Red Sox have won at Fenway Park in 102 seasons.
Parking for Northeastern University is now on the site -- and save your Joni Mitchell jokes. Columbus Avenue at Hammond Street. Orange Line to Ruggles.
* Third Base Saloon. There’s some question as to what was the first “sports bar”: St. Louis Brown Stockings (the team now known as the Cardinals) owner Chris von der Ahe’s place on the grounds of Sportsman’s Park, or Michael T. McGreevy’s establishment that opened just outside the South End Grounds, both in the 1880s. “I call it Third Base because it’s the last place you go before home,” McGreevy would tell people. “Enough said.” McGreevy used that phrase to settle any and all arguments to the point where not only did “Nuf Ced” become his nickname, but he had it (spelled that way) laid in mosaic tile on the bar’s floor.
Third Base Saloon became the headquarters of the Royal Rooters, a Beaneaters’ booster club, founded in 1897. In 1901, when the American League and the team that became the Red Sox was formed, Beaneaters founder-owner Arthur Soden made one of the dumbest mistakes in sports history: Despite competition practically next-door to his team, he raised ticket prices. This infuriated the working-class Irish fan base of the NL club, and they immediately accepted Nuf Ced’s suggestion of switching to the AL outfit. (I wonder if they built their park near Nuf Ced's place for just that reason, to get his customers?)
Nuf Ced and the Rooters stayed with the Sox after their 1912 move to Fenway, until 1920 when Prohibition closed him down. He died in 1930, and to this day, no Boston baseball team has ever won a World Series without him being present at all home games. (Not legitimately, anyway.) A park with a bike trail is now on the site, so the address, 940 Columbus Avenue, is no longer in use. As with the site of South End Grounds, take the Orange Line to Ruggles.
A new version, named McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon, was founded by Dropkick Murphys member Ken Casey, with “an exact replica of McGreevy’s original barroom.” 911 Boylston Street. Green Line B, C or D train to Hynes-Convention Center.
* Matthews Arena. Built in 1910 as the Boston Arena -- in fact, today is the anniversary, April 16 -- this is the oldest currently-used multi-purpose athletic building in use in the world. Northeastern still uses it, while BC, BU, Harvard, MIT and Tufts all once played home games here. It was the Bruins' first home, from 1924 to 1928, and the Celtics played the occasional home game here from 1946 to 1955, on occasions when there was a scheduling conflict with the Garden. In 1985, the Celtics played an alumni game here, with the opposing teams coached by Red Auerbach (his players wearing the white home jerseys) and Bill Russell (who didn't play, his players wearing the road green).
A gift from NU alumnus George J. Matthews led the school to rename the arena for him. In spite of its age, the building is fronted by a modern archway. Massachusetts Avenue at St. Botolph Street. Green Line E train to Symphony. Symphony Hall, Boston's answer to Carnegie Hall, is a block away at Massachusetts and Huntington Avenues.
* Site of Braves Field/Nickerson Field. Although Boston University no longer has a football team, it still plays other sports at Nickerson Field, which opened in 1957. Its home stand is the surviving right field pavilion of Braves Field, where the Braves played from 1915 until they left town. In return for being allowed to play their 1914 World Series games at Fenway, the Braves invited the Sox to play their Series games at Braves Field, which seated 40,000, a record until the first Yankee Stadium was built. The Sox played their home Series games there in 1915, ’16 and ’18.
The Braves themselves only played one World Series here, in 1948, losing to the Indians, who had just beaten the Sox in a one-game Playoff for the AL Pennant at Fenway, negating the closest call there ever was for an all-Boston World Series.
The Braves’ top farm team was the Triple-A version of the Milwaukee Brewers, and, with their team in decline after the ’48 Pennant and the Sox having the far larger attendance, they gave up the ghost and moved just before the start of the 1953 season, and then in 1966 to Atlanta. But they already had Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews, and, ironically, if they’d just hung on a little longer, they would have had Hank Aaron (they’d already integrated with Sam Jethroe in 1948, 11 years before the Sox finally caved in to the post-1865 world and added Pumpsie Green). They could have played the 1957 and '58 World Series in Boston instead of Milwaukee. If this had happened, once Ted Williams retired in 1960, interest in the declining Sox would have faded to the point that Tom Yawkey, not a Bostonian, could have gotten frustrated, and the Red Sox could have moved with the Braves staying.
If so, while the 1967, ’75, ’86, 2004, ’07 and '13 World Series would have been played somewhere else, Boston would have gained the 1957, ’58, ’91, ’92, ’95, ’96 and ’99 World Series, and, because of the proximity, there would be a big New York-Boston rivalry in baseball, but it would be Mets-Braves. (Of course, this would have meant the Yankees' main rivals would be the Baltimore Orioles -- who are, after all, the closest AL team to them, closer than the Red Sox.)
Instead, the Braves moved, and BU bought the grounds and converted it into Nickerson Field. The NFL’s Boston Redskins (named for the Braves) played their first season, 1932, at Braves Field, before playing 1933-36 at Fenway and then moving to Washington. The AFL’s Boston Patriots played at Nickerson 1960-62, and then at Fenway 1963-68. The former Braves Field ticket office still stands, converted into the BU Police headquarters. Unfortunately, the field is now artificial.
Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street and Harry Agganis Way. (Agganis was a BU quarterback who briefly played for the Red Sox before getting sick and dying at age 24 in 1955.) Green Line B train at Pleasant Street.
* Fenway Park. If you can stomach being around so much Soxness -- or if you're a Mets fan and thus a fellow Yankee-Hater -- the Auld Enemy offers tours of their Back Bay bandbox on the hour between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for $17, accessing the warning track (but not the field), the Green Monster, the Monster Seats, the press box, and the Red Sox Hall of Fame. 4 Yawkey Way (formerly Jersey Street) at Brookline Avenue. Green Line B, C or D (not E) to Kenmore.
Across Lansdowne Street/Ted Williams Way is the Cask 'n' Flagon. This legendary bar is definitely not to be visited by a New York/New Jersey fan while a Boston sporting event is in progress, but one to try at other times. And if you look to your right as you come out of the Kenmore station, you'll see a Barnes & Noble that serves as the Boston University bookstore. If you look up, you'll see that the famous CITGO sign so often shown in shots of Fenway is on top of this building.
NCAA basketball tournament games have been held at the TD Garden, the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center), the Providence Civic Center (now the Dunkin Donuts Center), the Worcester Centrum (now the DCU Center), and the University of Rhode Island's Keaney Gymnasium in Kingston. But no New England building has ever hosted a Final Four, and none ever will, due to attendance requirements, unless the Patriots put a dome on Gillette Stadium, or the Sox ever do build a New Fenway, with a dome.
No school within the city limits of Boston has ever reached the Final Four. One Massachusetts school has: Holy Cross, in Worcester, winning the National Championship in 1947 with George Kaftan, "the Golden Greek," and reaching the Final Four again in '48 with Bob Cousy (a freshman in '47 and ineligible under the rules of the time).
The University of Massachusetts, with its main campus in Amherst, made the Final Four in 1996, under coach John Calipari, but had to vacate the appearance when later Knick Marcus Camby admitted he'd accepted money and gifts from agents.
The University of Connecticut (UConn, in Storrs, closer to Boston than to Manhattan) has made it 5 times, winning it all in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014, and losing in the Semifinal in 2009. The only New Hampshire school to make it is Dartmouth, in Hanover, in 1942 and 1944, losing in the Final both times. The only Rhode Island school to make it is Providence, in 1973 and 1987 (coached by future Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt and future preening schmo Rick Pitino, respectively). No school from Maine or Vermont has ever reached the Final Four.
* Alumni Stadium. Boston College has played football here since 1957, and the Patriots played their 1969 home games here. Prior to 1957, BC played at several sites, including Fenway and Braves Field. Beacon Street at Chestnut Hill Drive. Green Line B train to Boston College.
* Harvard Stadium. The oldest continually-used football stadium in America – the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field is on the oldest continually-used football site – this stadium was built in 1903, and renovations (funded by those wealthy Harvard alums) have kept it in tip-top condition, if not turned it into a modern sports palace.
This stadium is responsible for the legalization of the forward pass in football. When the organization that became the NCAA was founded in 1906, rules changes were demanded to make the game safer. One suggestion was widening the field, but Harvard – at the time, having as much pull as Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama now do, all rolled into one – insisted that they’d just spent all this money on a new stadium, and didn’t want to alter it to suit a rule change. Much as Notre Dame has sometimes been a tail wagging college football’s dog, the Crimson were accommodated, and someone suggested the alternative of legalizing the forward pass, which had occasionally been illegally done.
Today, the stadium is best known as the site of the 1968 Harvard-Yale game, where the two ancient rivals both came into the game undefeated, and a furious late comeback from 29-13 down led to the famous Harvard Crimson (school newspaper) headline “HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29” and a tie for the Ivy League Championship. (Actor Tommy Lee Jones, then listed as "Tom Jones," started at guard for Harvard in that game. His roommate at Harvard was future Vice President Al Gore.) The Patriots played 1970, their first season in the NFL and last under the name “Boston Patriots,” at Harvard Stadium.
Although its mailing address is 65 North Harvard Street in “Allston, MA,” and the University is in Cambridge, the stadium is actually on the south, Boston side of the Charles River. Harvard Street at Soldiers Field Road. Unfortunately, it’s not that close to public transportation: Your best bet is to take the Red Line to Harvard Square, and walk across the Anderson Memorial Bridge.
* Gillette Stadium. The NFL’s New England Patriots and MLS’ New England Revolution have played here since 2002. It was built next-door to the facility known as Schaefer Stadium, Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium, which was torn down and replaced by the Patriot Place mall.
The Pats played at the old stadium from 1971 to 2001 (their last game, a Playoff in January 2002, being the Snow Bowl or Tuck Game against the Oakland Raiders). It was home to the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League and, from 1996 to 2001, of MLS’ Revs. Before the Tea Men, the NASL's Boston Minutemen played there, including Mozambicuan-Portuguese legend Eusebio da Silva Ferreira (like many Portuguese and Brazilian players, usually known by just his first name). Because of this, and because of New England's large Portuguese community, a statue of Eusebio stands at Gillette, possibly puzzling people who don't know soccer and only go for Patriots games. The statue was there at least as far back as 2010, well before his recent death.
The U.S. national soccer team played 10 games at Foxboro Stadium, winning 7. They've now played 10 at Gillette as well, winning 6. BC played a couple of football games at the old stadium in the early 1980s, thanks to the popularity of quarterback Doug Flutie. The old stadium was basically an oversized version of a high school stadium, complete with aluminum benches for fans, and it was terrible. The new stadium is so much better.
It has one problem: The location is awful. It’s just off U.S. Route 1, not a freeway such as I-95, and except for Pats’ gamedays, when an MBTA commuter rail train will take you right there, the only way to get there without a car is to take the MBTA Forge Park-495 Line from South Station to Walpole, and then get a taxi. That’ll cost you $18 each way, as I found out when I went to see the New York Red Bulls play the Revs in June 2010.
60 Washington Street (Route 1) – or “1 Patriot Place,” Foxboro. It’s actually closer to downtown Providence, Rhode Island than to downtown Boston. Adjoining is the Patriot Place mall.
* Suffolk Downs. Opened in 1935, this is New England's premier horse-racing track. On their last tour, on August 18, 1966, the Beatles played here. However, as horse racing has declined, so has the track, to the point that New England's best known race, the Massachusetts Handicap (or the Mass Cap) hasn't been run since 2008. Previously, it had been won by such legendary horses as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Riva Ridge and Cigar.
So, unless you really loved the film Seabiscuit or are a huge Beatlemaniac, I'd say that if you don't have the time to see everything on this list, this is the first item you should cross off. 525 McClellan Highway, at Waldemar Avenue, in the East Boston neighborhood, near Logan Airport. Blue Line to Suffolk Downs station.
* Museum of Fine Arts. This is Boston’s equivalent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m not saying you have to visit, but you should see one major Boston tourist site that doesn’t involve sports, and it’s a 10-minute walk from Fenway and a 5-minute walk from the sites of the Huntington Avenue and South End Grounds. 465 Huntington Avenue at Parker Street. Green Line E train to Museum of Fine Arts station.
* Freedom Trail. Boston’s most familiar tourist trap is actually several, marked by a red brick sidewalk and red paint on streets. Historic sites include Boston’s old and new City Halls, Massachusetts’ old and new State Houses (old: Built 1711, with the State Street subway station somehow built into it; “new”: 1798), the Old North Church (where Paul Revere saw the two lanterns hung) and the Old South Meeting House (where Samuel Adams started the Boston Tea Party and would be horrified at the right-wing bastards using the “Tea Party” name today), Revere’s house, the Boston Tea Party Ship, the U.S.S. Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument.
The Trail starts at Boston Common, at Park and Tremont Streets. Green or Red Line to Park Street.
* Cambridge. Home to Harvard and MIT, it is not so much “Boston’s Brooklyn” (that wouldn’t be Brookline, either, but would be South Boston or “Southie” and neighboring Dorchester) as “Boston’s Greenwich Village,” particularly since Harvard Square was the center of Boston’s alternative music scene in the Fifties and Sixties, where performers like Joan Baez and the aforementioned Kingston Trio became stars. Later, it would be rock acts like Aerosmith and the J. Geils Band that would make their names in Cambridge.
The city is also home to the Longfellow House, home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And while it is worth a visit, no, you cannot, as the old saying demonstrating the Boston accent goes, “Pahk yuh cah in Hahvuhd Yahd.” Harvard Yard does not allow motorized vehicles. Centered around Harvard Square at 1400 Massachusetts Avenue. Red Line to Harvard Square.
* John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Unlike the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, which is a 2-hour drive north of Midtown Manhattan in Hyde Park, closer to Albany, the JFK Library is much more accessible – not just to drivers and non-drivers alike, but to anyone. Maybe it’s because it’s more interactive, but maybe it’s also because FDR is a figure of black-and-white film and scratchy radio recordings, while JFK is someone whose television images and color films make him more familiar to us, even though he’s been dead for over 50 years now. (Incredibly, he’s now been dead longer than he was alive.)
Sometimes it seems as though his Library is less about his time than it is about our time, and the time beyond. While I love the FDR Library, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best Presidential Library or Museum there is. Columbia Point, on the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts. Red Line to JFK/UMass, plus a shuttle bus.
Other Massachusetts Presidential sites include the JFK Tour at Harvard, JFK’s birthplace at 83 Beals Street in Brookline (Green Line B train to Babcock Street), those involving John and John Quincy Adams in Quincy (Red Line to Quincy Center – not to “Quincy Adams”), the house at 173 Adams Street in Milton where George H.W. Bush was born (Red Line to Milton, now has a historical marker although the house itself is privately owned and not available for tours), and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, in Northampton where he was Mayor before becoming the State’s Governor and then President (20 West Street, 100 miles west of Boston, although Greyhound goes there). Closer than Northampton are sites relating to Franklin Pierce in Concord and Hillsboro, New Hampshire.
Salem, home to the witch trials, is to the north: MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport/Rockport Line out of North Station to Salem. Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed and set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is to the south: MBTA Kingston/Plymouth Line out of South Station to Kingston, then switch to FreedomLink bus.
Lexington & Concord? Lexington: Red Line north to its terminal at Alewife, then switch to the 62 or 76 bus. Concord: MBTA Fitchburg/South Acton Line out of North Station to Concord. Bunker Hill? 93 bus on Washington Street, downtown, to Bunker Hill & Monument Streets, across the river in the Charlestown neighborhood, then 2 blocks down Monument.
The Bull & Finch Pub, which was used for the exterior shot and the basis for the interior shot of Cheers, was at 84 Beacon Street at Brimmer Street, across from Boston Common and near the State House. It's since been bought and turned into an official Cheers, with the upstairs Hampshire House (the basis for the show's Melville's) also part of the establishment. Green Line to Arlington. A version designed to look more like the one on the show, complete with an "island bar" instead of a "wall bar," is at Faneuil Hall. Congress & Market Streets. Orange or Blue Line to State, since Government Center is closed for renovations.
The Suffolk County Court House, recognizable from David E. Kelley's legal dramas Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Legal, is at the Scollay Square/Government Center complex. The official address is 3 Pemberton Street, at Somerset Street. Again, use State, due to the closure of Government Center.
The Prudential Tower, a.k.a. the Prudential Center, at 749 feet the tallest building in the world outside New York when it opened in 1964, contains a major mall. 800 Boylston Street. The finish line of the Boston Marathon, and the site of the bombing, is at 755 Boylston at Ring Road. Green Line B, C or D to Copley, or E to Prudential.
There are two John Hancock Buildings in Boston. The older one, at 197 Clarendon Street at St. James Avenue, went up in 1947 and is better known as the Berkeley Building. It is 495 feet high counting a spire that lights up, and is a weather beacon, complete with poem:
Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead.
If it's flashing red during baseball season, when snow is not expected (except maybe in April), that means that day's Red Sox game has been postponed. When the Sox won the Series * in 2004, '07 and '13, it flashed red and blue.
The glass-facaded newer building, at 200 Clarendon across from the old one, was completed in 1976 and is 790 feet tall, making it not just the tallest in Boston, in Massachusetts, or in New England, but the tallest in North America east of Manhattan. Green Line to Copley.
Boston may be, per capita, America's best sports city. Certainly, it's the nuttiest. Games played there, in any of their venues, are not for the faint of heart. But it is a truly great experience to see a game there.
Good luck, and remember: Safety first. Despite Boston's reputation of having several fine medical centers, if given a choice, it's better to be an uninjured coward than a hospitalized tough guy.