Book Review:

Fenway: The Ultimate Fan's Guide

Given what I do here, one would think I would discourage people from buying a book that essentially is the same type of book as what I write. Tim Shea might be considered a competitor of Ballpark E-Guides. But he’s done such a good job with Fenway: The Ultimate Fan’s Guide, it wouldn’t be fair. I could name some people who half-bake ballpark guides and charge way too much money for them, but Tim Shea is definitely not one of them.

I would even go as far as to say that Shea's tome is a thoroughly detailed and fun book to read, and may even be more loaded than the Fenway Park E-Guide in some respects (yes, that is possible!).

And no, I’m not having a Miracle on 34th Street moment here. This book really is that good…whether you’re a ballpark road-tripper planning a visit to Fenway, a hardcore Red Sox fan, or just someone who loves Fenway Park regardless of team affiliation. There’s no doubt in my mind that if you’re any of these things, this book is well worth the price, and even worth paying for the new edition each year.

Like the Fenway Park E-Guide found on this website, Shea goes into detail about the many different ways to get Red Sox tickets, the best ways to get there and places to park, and what’s available as far as ballpark grub.

The bulk of the book, though, is carefully detailed diagrams of each of the Grandstand sections…and what seats will have the view obstructed by those danged support poles. Each section has all of the rows and seat numbers, with gray covering the obstructed view seats. For each section he informs you where the support pole is and where the view issues are likely to be. All I can think of reading this is, how in the world did he do that?

This part of the book would be outstanding for dealing with scalpers…that is to say, if they were willing to let you check out your seat, which they likely wouldn’t. It’s also handy for those broker offices, like the ubiquitous ACE Tickets next to the Kenmore Station.

But that’s hardly the whole strength of The Ultimate Fan’s Guide.There’s a list of nearby hotels with rate and star-rating listings, a list of places to eat or drink before or after the game, and a detailed description of the outstanding renovations done to Fenway that saw seats added to the Green Monster and the Big Concourse getting built.

There's even a Red Sox quiz for fanatics (at least in my edition)—which highlights the 2004 ALCS with questions like “Which overpaid Yankees superstar had only 1 hit in 17 at-bats and struck out 6 times in games 4 through 7 of the ALCS?” (Answer: Gary Sheffield.) Tim Shea is unquestionably a Sox fan through and through, right down to the disdain for the Evil Empire in New York.

So should you buy “Fenway: The Ultimate Fan Guide” or the Fenway Park E-Guide? Well, both, obviously. You can’t go wrong with either. The E-Guide goes into a little more details about finding good parking spots and taking the T, while Shea’s book goes into great detail about avoiding obstructed views and has more for the dedicated Red Sox fan to revel in. You would find both very helpful and wouldn’t consider having both of them a waste!

“Fenway: The Ultimate Fan’s Guide” is the very well done product of some very hard work from Tim Shea on behalf of Red Sox fans and Fenway visitors. Even though he’s a competitor of mine in a sense, I’m happy to recommend this book.

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