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Book Review: The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston

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Having lived in New England my entire life and growing up a die-hard sports fan, I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about our region’s sports teams. However, beyond Fenway Park, the TD Bank Garden (or whatever it’s called) and Gillette Stadium, there’s a plethora of large and small venues to enjoy sports in New England that many people don’t know about.

The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston: A Spectators Handbook, written by Massachusetts author Christopher Klein, takes you to sporting venues at nearly every level of competition, from the grandeur the green monster to the small baseball fields of the Cape Cod League. Klein sets out to give not only background but guidance on where to eat, where to park and where to sit. Use what ever sports clique you want – home run, grand slam, slam dunk, touchdown – and it will work describing Klein’s attempt at enlightening even the most knowledgeable sports fan.

Klein begins each section of the book with the history of a sport in the region, recognizing the stories go well beyond Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Tom Brady, and puts a local flavor to each anecdote. From the history of the Beanpot to the parking availability around Hadlock Field for the Boston Red Sox AA affiliate Portland Seadogs, no stone is left unturned in an attempt to give potential spectators a leg up when visiting one of the many fantastic sporting arenas New England has to offer. Not only will he tell you the way to get the best seat for the cheapest price, but does give those who wish to splash the cash on dream experiences the information to do so. While it’s important to note that this is more a guide than a history novel of each individual sport, Klein does give all the important historical information to give background to the readers on why New England sports are special. Klein’s book is a must-read, even if you don’t plan on attending many or most of the venues. Who knows, maybe some will end up on your Bucket List.

Klein was kind enough to take some time and answer some questions about his book exclusivity to Sports of Boston:

1. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Sports are such an essential part of our daily lives in Boston, but I found that, while there are guidebooks to the city’s parks, literary haunts, and historic landmarks, there was no guide to Boston’s spectator sports. That seemed like a big void that needed to be filled. I think there’s a real need for a book such as The Die-Hard Sports Fan’s Guide to Boston that highlights the incredible range of sporting events around the city and provides the practical information sports fans want to know: how to get tickets, where to sit, how to get to the game, how to save some cash or go crazy and splurge, where to eat and drink before and after the game, even how to get autographs. It can cost a lot of money to be a Boston sports fan, so it’s important to make sure your experience at the game is as enjoyable as possible.

2. What was some of the preparation you had to do?

Luckily, I had a lifetime of experiences in going to games and sporting events all around Boston to tap into, so in a way my years and years as a Boston sports fan seasoned me to write this book. In order to delve into some of the history of the sports and Boston franchises, I relied on a treasure trove of old newspaper articles, and we’re lucky to have some great historical photographs from the Boston Public Library in the book as well.

3. How much access were you allowed at different venues?

It was important for me to replicate the typical fan experience as much as possible, so I needed to bounce around to different sections of stadiums and arenas to check out views and atmosphere. For some events, finding open seats wasn’t a problem, and I would just buy a ticket, go to the event, and do my exploring. For events with capacity crowds, a number of college and pro teams were helpful in giving me access that would allow me to move around to different seating areas. But I never got down on the playing surface or in the locker rooms because, again, I was interested in getting the typical fan experience at the game.

4. Why did you feel it important to incorporate smaller/lesser known sports in the book?

Even though baseball, football, hockey, and basketball dominate our interest and our attention, there’s more to the city’s sports scene than just the four major sports. In this city, if you put up a scoreboard, Bostonians will come, not matter what the sport, so I believe these less-popular sports had to be incorporated into the book in order to do justice to the diverse spectrum of choices that are out there for Boston sports fans. Also, some of the sports we cover in the book, such as Australian Rules Football, cricket, and hurling, were born in foreign lands. And just as you can tour the world without leaving Boston by enjoying the cuisine in neighborhoods such as the North End or Chinatown, sampling some of these imported sports will allow you to be immersed in foreign cultures—without the airfare. Not to mention some of these lesser-known sports are really fun to watch!

5. What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

The most difficult thing about writing the book was simply the scope of the project. There was so much information that we wanted to get into this book. There are 25 individual sports profiled and about 30 individual teams; a bunch of annual sporting events in Boston and around New England; a walking tour of sports-related sights in downtown Boston, profiles of the city’s 15 best sports bars, a directory of Boston-friendly sports bars around the world, and profiles of 13 road trips for die-hard fans. There was just a lot of logistical information that had to be researched to pull the book together.

6. What’s one thing you learned?

I was amazed at the number of sports in which Bostonians played a pivotal role in their advent and development. Boston Common was one of the first places in America where early versions of baseball and football were played. Nahant stakes a claim as the location of the first tennis match in America. The first golf match in a public park in America was in Boston. When the popularity of hockey and lacrosse spread south from Canada, Boston was among the first American hotbeds. And of course, basketball was invented just west of Boston in Springfield.

7. What do you want people to take from the book?

Hopefully, the book informs and entertains sports fans and helps them gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible history of Boston sports and the integral role that sports has played in the civic life of Boston. I also hope that readers will visit some of the hidden jewels of the Boston sports scene, such as Matthews Arena or the Boston Athletic Association museum, that are described in the book and check out some sports they may not have watched in person before. Ultimately, though, I want sports fans to use the logistical details in the guidebook to make their spectator experiences as enjoyable as possible and root, root, root for the home teams!


UPDATE (09/03/09)
: The Globe also recently reviewed Klein’s book.

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