Catching Red Sox at a really away game

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published May 25, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

From Di’s eyes: One of the best ways to experience a foreign country is to go to a public event where you’re not a tourist, but one of the crowd. This group certainly  was treated to some authentic Japan.

WHO: Michael Zimman, 58, his wife, Ellen Rovner, 59, their son, Sam Zimman, 18, all of Brookline, Mass., and Michael’s brother, Jon Zimman, 53, and his partner, Glenn Roberts, 42, both of San Francisco.

WHERE: Japan.

WHEN: Ten days in March.

WHY: To attend the Red Sox season opener and sightsee.

THE BIG IDEA: “My brother promoted this,” Michael Zimman said. “He thought it was an unusual opportunity and could get tickets through the Oakland [Athletics] organization.” The brothers, who grew up on the North Shore, are huge Sox fans, as is Roberts, who is from Connecticut.

TRANSCENDENT VIEWS: In Tokyo they stayed on the 46th floor of the Park Hyatt. “It’s where ‘Lost in Translation’ was filmed,” Rovner said. “I don’t know how Scarlett was bored there,” she said of the character played by Scarlett Johansson. “The views are amazing. Wherever you were, it was like floating among the skyscrapers. There are windows everywhere. At night it was just spectacular.”

Ellen Rovner and Michael Zimman at the Tokyo Dome during the Red Sox gamePREGAME SHOW: “When we got to the game, they had the World Series trophy on display, with armed guards, and there were literally hundreds of Japanese taking photos,” Zimman said. “The opening ceremony was quite the extravaganza,” Rovner said. “They had these kids in traditional costumes, wearing bright colors, and it was very choreographed.”

SOUND AND FLURRIES: “There were about 2,000 Americans out of 55,000 total in the stands. They were selling sushi in the stands with bento boxes for snacks,” Zimman said. “In general it was much quieter. They played ‘When you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’ ” Fans also made “funny electronic noises when there was a foul.” The vendors were all young, attractive women in short shorts, Zimman said. “They’d run down the aisle to the bottom, bow to the crowd, and then walk back up to sell their beer.”

Glenn Roberts, Jon Zimman, and Ellen Rovner in front of Buddhist Temple in KyotoUBER-URBAN: They stayed in Kyoto and Tokyo for several days each. “Kyoto is physically more beautiful, though Tokyo has some incredible new buildings,” Rovner said. “Tokyo at first was overwhelming, but after a few days, when we could get around, we thought, wow, this is great.”

Ellen Rovner and Michael Zimman sampling scallops at the Tokyo fish marketSEAFOOD SENSATIONS: After visiting the giant Tokyo fish market, where they saw huge tunas wheeled around in motorized carts, they came upon a vendor. “They were grilling these giant scallops, like the size of a small orange. No one spoke a word of English, but a flight attendant who was there ordered a couple for us,” Zimman said.

FLOWERING FINALE: On their last day they happened upon blooming cherry trees. “All the Japanese were taking a gazillion pictures of them,” Rovner said of the blossoms. “It’s such a part of their culture.”

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