Saturday, 2:15 PM
(Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe)
Gregory Mullen raised his arms in triumph this morning at the sports bar Game On! as Manny Ramirez drove in two runs in the top of the 10th inning to give the Red Sox a win in the season opener in Tokyo.
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
It was well before dawn, but the lights at Fenway Park were on, and the bars were already abuzz with Red Sox fans. The day hadn't started yet, but baseball had.
Several hundred diehard, sleep-deprived fans gathered at Game On! and Cask 'n' Flagon on Lansdowne Street this morning to cheer their beloved Red Sox as they opened their world championship defense in Tokyo against the Oakland A's. Fans lined up outside Game On! before it opened at 5:30 a.m., and by the start of the game at 6:05 a.m., well over 200 had arrived.
Over coffee and breakfast, they roared at the national anthem and the first pitch in celebration of the time-honored, if somewhat ill-timed, tradition of baseball's Opening Day. While most fans across New England listened to the game in between hits of the snooze button or watched on television from the comfort of their couch, the hard core turned out to welcome the Red Sox back from their winter slumber with kindred spirits.
Giving up some REM sleep to listen to Rem-Dawg, the nickname of NESN announcer Jerry Remy, was an easy call.
"Taking Opening Day off for a 1 p.m. game, that's great," said James Garvey, a 27-year-old from Woburn. "Taking it off for a 6 a.m. game, that's just awesome."
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," agreed his friend, Mike Keene, a 23-year-old from Charlestown.
The bars had special permission from the city to open early, but were not allowed to serve alcohol until after the game, much to fans' consternation, despite the early hour. It was heresy, even un-American, to watch the game without a beer, some fans said.
"Beer and baseball, they go hand in hand," said Adam Storey, clad in a David Ortiz jersey. "It's like apple pie."
Down the bar, several third-shifters were taking in the game after work. The early start fit their schedule just fine, they said.
"They should do this all the time," quipped Eddie Schrage, 49, a night dispatcher from Everett. "They should have all the road games in Tokyo to fit my schedule. I'm going to give [MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig a call."
Others were less pleased by the predawn start, grumbling into their coffee at the uncivilized hour.
"This is the worst," said Bill Lauzon, a 29-year-old bartender from Brockton who planned a lengthy afternoon nap before his shift. "But you have to be here."
The strange hour did drive some fans away. Dan Wilkens, a 28-year-old from South Boston, said he could only persuade one of his buddies to join him for the game.
"Everybody else just said 'Couch,' " he said.
While the crowd was dominated by twenty-somethings, several older fans turned out as well. Bob Bird, 70, and his wife Sandy, 68, from Marlborough joined their friend Barbara Sampson at a corner table, high-fiving Red Sox hits like it was a Saturday afternoon game.
"We had to be here, for the boys," said Sampson, 45.
Lindsay Curtis, marketing manager for Game On!, said you'll never go broke overestimating the passion of Red Sox fans.
"They just kept on calling" to see if the bar was open for the game, she said with a chuckle.
Michael Ratty, a 28-year-old from the North End, described Opening Day as a communal event that deserves to be shared.
"I never had any intention of watching it myself at my apartment," he said. "How many times do you get to watch a game before work? And I've been dying for baseball."
By the middle innings, the crowd began to thin out. Time for work, many said. After a stop at a coffee shop.
"Definitely heading to Starbucks," said Christine Rhodes after stifling a yawn as she watched at the Cask 'n' Flagon. Rhodes, a 22-year-old from Brookline who works at an accounting firm, said a little fatigue was a small sacrifice to see the Red Sox opener.
"You can sleep whenever," she said.
And although the Sox were trailing much of the game, fans remained confident.
"It's early," Schrage said.
This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.