An Interview With Fenway Park Expert Brian Merzbach

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Monday, April.16 /2012

Douglas “Chuck” Booth (Baseball Writer)- “Brian Merzbach and I often don’t see eye to eye on a plethora of baseball issues and opinions.  What I will say from this Yankees fan to a Red Sox fan, I respect Brian as a human being and as a member of the ballpark chaser community.  Plus even though we have different opinions, we are both forthright in our own views and never waver these ideals.  As frustrating as the truth can be it is nice to have someone as completely honest as Brian in the baseball community. To fulfill the expert interview for Fenway Park we needed this diehard fan to legitimize the whole series.  So all being nice aside, I recently had a chat with Brian about Fenway Park.  Here is what we discussed:”

DB: Welcome to the MLB Reports Fenway Park  Expert Interview Brian. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Red Sox fan?”

BM: “I grew up in Amherst, MA, which is located in western Massachusetts, about 2 hours from Boston.  Most of my family were Red Sox fans, so naturally I picked up on that from an early age.  I don’t remember a day when I wasn’t a Red Sox fan, so I guess I was just born with Red Sox genes.  Because we didn’t live closer to Boston, we usually only went to one game a year at Fenway.”

BM: “Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the nightmare of the 1986 World Series.  But being just 12 years old at the time, I expected the Red Sox would make the Series again soon.  Little did I know they wouldn’t make it back for another 18 years !  Obviously winning the 2004 World Series will be something I’ll never forget.”

DB: “In addition to many of the MLB teams parks you have seen, you also have been to a lot of Minor League Parks, please discuss what your typical ratio would be for MLB Parks to MiLB Parks in a season?”

BM: “In my most active years, I would see 30-40 minor league games and about 10-12 MLB games.  Though my wife and I just had our first child last summer, so I suspect my ballpark chasing will slow down some in future years.”

DB: “You started 15 years and have over 500 different ballpark reviews, what inspired you to create a website like this in the internet’s early stages?”

BM: “At the time there was only a couple other sites which had any photos of minor league ballparks, so thought it would be a good opportunity to share my experiences .  Originally I just started with posting photos of minor league parks and then later started writing reviews for all of them.  Gary Jarvis, who has since retired from ballpark collecting, was one of the early pioneers of ballpark photography on the web and was probably responsible for putting the thought in my head to start a website.”

DB: “Fenway Park is on everybody’s short list for the best ballpark in the Major Leagues to watch a game.  Please tell us why you love Fenway Park?”

BM: “Well first off, I have to admit that I am probably a bit biased since I’m a Red Sox fan and grew up going to games at Fenway.  But that said, there is so much to love about Fenway – the place just has a great aura from the moment you set foot on Yawkey Way.  The atmosphere outside and inside the park is second to none.  And the renovations that they have done over the past decade have just enhanced the overall experience even more.  To be more specific, I’d say the two primary reasons I love Fenway so much are a) the fans are rabid and into every pitch and b) it is just so intimate.  Certainly if you were to build a new ballpark today, it would look nothing like Fenway Park.  It is definitely a throwback to another era.”

DB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Fenway Park for the very first time?”

BM: “You hear a lot of people talk about the poles and obstructed view seats, but I would say, don’t worry about that.  One of the great quotes that I always remember when I’m at a sporting event is “It is twice the fun being there.”  At Fenway Park, even if your views are obstructed and you have to move your head a lot to see the action, don’t worry, you will still have a great time.  So my advice is, don’t get hung up on what seats you have.  Once you are inside the gates, the great atmosphere will take over and you’ll be happy just be experiencing this great ballpark.”

DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to Fenway Park?”

BM: “For many years, I would take the T into Fenway from the Riverside station.  It is only about $5 for a roundtrip and takes about 30 minutes each way.  However the last couple times I have gone, I have actually driven in.  There is a garage about a 5 minute walk away that charges $25.  I have found this to be very convenient as well.  But I would only recommend driving in if you plan to get there very early.  Otherwise taking the T in is the way to go.”

DB: “What is the food like at Fenway Park? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”


BM: “The food selections have greatly improved at Fenway over the past decade or so.  I know a lot of people like the Fenway Frank, but I’m not that fond of them.  I have tried a lot of different foods over the years, so it is hard to narrow down to just one that is my favorite.  But I’d day that you can’t go wrong with the Italian sausages and steak tip sandwiches. Overall, you can pretty much get any food you can think of at Fenway now – from burgers to pizza to deli sandwiches to clam chowder.  And don’t forget to check out the selections on Yawkey Way, which is actually part of Fenway Park now during the games.”

DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Fenway Park?”

BM: “That’s a tough one.  There actually aren’t a lot that stick out in my mind.  I’d have to say it was probably a game back in May of 2002.  Even though it was very cold that day (there was freezing rain before the game), Pedro Martinez pitched a gem of a game, including striking out the side on 9 pitches in the first inning.”

DB: “As someone who has watched the team for years, how crucial is if for the team to start out well and put the late season collapse of 2011 behind them?”

 BM: “I would say it’s important, but I don’t think they’ll panic if they get off to a slow start again.  The players realize it is a long season and that it is more important to end the season strong.  I do think they will be more consistent this year.  The Red Sox were the best team in baseball from May-August last season, but their slow start and dismal finish doomed them.”

DB: “How do you think Bobby Valentine will do as manager of the team?”

BM: “I’m a huge Valentine fan – as soon as Tito decided not to come back, I thought he was the right man for the job.  He can handle the media pressure of Boston and is certainly not a “by the book” manager.  I think he’s both an “old school” manager and a “new school” manager.  So it will be fascinating to see how he does.  If nothing else, Bobby V will be entertaining!”

*** A big thank you goes out to our Fenway Park Expert Brian Merzbach  for participating in the expert article Series. To read more about all 30 baseball Parks click here for ballpark reviews that have all the information you need to become a seasoned veteran yourself***

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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at
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