by Mark Jent
Organizing a baseball trip of any sort is always fun, but when it comes together spontaneously at the last minute, it adds an extra level of adventure to the equation. Simply A Fan’s trip to Game One of the World Series in Boston last week was put together in less than 48 hours, meaning that the six of us from Nashville were putting names with faces as we boarded the flight on Tuesday morning. From the moment Clayton Kershaw threw the final pitch of the NLCS Game Seven in Milwaukee, I furiously began trying to round up five others from the Nashville area who would take off for Fenway on short notice.
You have my faithful wingman, Patrick Cameron, who was embarking on his 10th trip with me over the last two seasons. Then you have Nathan Wilson and his daughter Lauren Castles, both Dodger fans to the core. They confirmed to jump aboard on Sunday, about 36 hours before take-off. We had never met. Then I got a phone call at 9:30 on Monday morning, less than 21 hours from departure. It was a lady named June who had heard about me taking a group to Game One via her first cousin, Kerry Patterson (my good friend). She lives in Waverly (TN), about an hour west of Nashville, and June asked, “Mark, I heard you are taking a group to Game One of the World Series tomorrow night. My husband George is 88 years old and is a lifelong Red Sox fan, he has not been to Fenway Park in over 70 years since he was a teenager in the 1940’s and I would like to take him with you and your group tomorrow. Can you help me make that happen?”
The emphatic answer was, “Yes!”. Due to a school visit with our other venture, 2×2 Global, and another meeting afterwards, I knew it would be early afternoon before I could begin tackling the details. Around 2pm, a mere 17 hours before our flight left the following morning, the fun of booking flights and lodging, buying game tickets and scheduling the Fenway ballpark tour began. The logistics were one reason I was drawn to launch Simply A Fan, because I know that for many people who don’t go to baseball games, they often choose not to because they do not enjoy the very thing that I love – the planning and organizing of details.
So there you have it, the six of us – Patrick, Nathan, Lauren, June, George and myself. Before we arrived at BNA that morning, every one of us only knew one other person in the group, yet over the coming hours we would experience life together in ways that will stay with us long after the final out of Game One.
Most of you are aware of George’s adventure on the day of Game One, but in case you are not, watch this 2 minute feature story from Eli Rosenberg’s NBC Boston that aired on the evening news that night.
Yes, George fainted on our flight! Unbeknownst to me at the time because I was clocking my single hour of sleep to start the flight, he passed out mid-flight! Once I woke up from my hour of hibernation, Patrick proceeded to tell me there was a medical situation at the front of the plane, but he wasn’t sure if it was George or not. I quickly got out of my seat, walked down the aisle and saw two nurses attending to this older gentlemen while giving him oxygen. As I inched closer and realized it was him, I thought “It’s George! Oh no, this is my guy who I didn’t know 24 hours ago, but I’m responsible for him as he’s traveling with my group!”
I later found out the flight crew had internal discussions as to whether they needed to divert the flight for an emergency landing or not. His blood pressure began to stabilize, so the decision was made to continue to Boston Logan airport, but to do so quickly. Shortly thereafter the pilot came on the intercom saying “Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to be arriving a few minutes early this morning into Logan, so sit back, relax and we’ll get you there safely.” A few seconds later, you could tell the pilot meant business as he put the pedal to the metal in the cockpit. I’ve flown enough to know it’s not unusual to arrive to your destination early, but arriving around 30 minutes early on a two hour flight? Wow!
Upon our arrival at the gate, the EMTs came on board. Once George was taken away on the ambulance on the tarmac beside our Southwest flight, the rest of us went to baggage claim to get their luggage. After chatting it up with the Mookie Betts family, fellow Nashville residents, for a few minutes at baggage claim, the rest of our traveling party hopped in a Lyft to take George and June their luggage, and of course to check on George.
After an hour or so when it was obvious that George was stable and there was nothing more we could do other than sit in the ER waiting room for hours, June “shooed us away” to go about our day, so we obeyed her accordingly. Like, she literally was about to body slam me if I spent five more minutes at Mass General. No joke. I had just met the lady about five hours earlier so I wasn’t confident she wouldn’t do it and I didn’t feel like seeing her Jimmy SuperFly Snuka moves on what was already an eventful day. We knew that even if George was okay, he would likely still be there a solid 4-6 hours, and I knew that Nathan and Lauren had never been to Boston before, plus we had just met them also! So we left the hospital, keeping in touch with June throughout the day to check on George’s status.
About 3:30 I got a phone call from June telling me that George had been released, he was feeling good and he was ready to pitch nine innings that night for Game One. Or…rather, just sit in our Section 12, Row 12 seat 12. Before we went to pick them up and bring them back to Fenway, Patrick and I wanted to try and coordinate with the Fenway/Red Sox staff a place where George could rest once at the ballpark. So I went to the security guy at the front office and chatted out a gameplan with him and that is when I turn around to find this…
Patrick Cameron being interviewed by NBC Boston!!! I was like, “YES – go PC!!!” (We had already been on camera while eating lunch at The Baseball Tavern, where we were interviewed by Fox News LA.) So as the camera was rolling, I took this picture and video to show Patrick proudly representing our @dodgers outside @fenwaypark on local Boston television. It was obvious that we were a “novelty” of sorts wearing our Dodger blue in the midst of Red Sox Nation. (WS Fun Fact – Did you know that this World Series matchup was between two teams who are the farthest distance apart geographically of any two teams in World Series history? Yep – 2,983 miles to be exact. And no, I did not research it, I saw it elsewhere.)
After PC got his 15 seconds of fame, I was ready to whisk him away in a Lyft so we could go get our new friends George and June. It was then that Eli from NBC Boston 10 says “Oh, here’s another one…” meaning another Dodger fan, while turning to me. So he proceeds to stick the microphone in my face with camera rolling (after he sought permission of course) and asked about my Dodger fandom. Although I’ve never been one before, knowing just a wee bit about about how a journalist thinks I said, “Hey Eli, I’ve got a great story for you,” and went on to say, “We are about to go pick up our friend George from Mass General. He is 88 years old and has not been at Fenway Park in over 70 years since he was a teenager in the 1940’s. And check this out, he and his wife just decided yesterday to come to Game One! Then this morning on our flight up from Nashville, George fainted, had to get medical attention on the flight, had EMTs and an ambulance waiting on him after we got off our Southwest flight, and was rushed to the ER at Mass General where he’s spent the last six hours. But now he’s been released and we are going to pick him up so he can be here in time for Game One. ”
With his jaw dropped and eyes wide open Eli goes, “Can I get your number? And will you let me know when you get back to Fenway with George?”
Over the next hour while PC and I were in transit back and forth to Mass General, I sent Eli a few texts explaining more details of the previous 24 hours, which helped him prepare for the interview once George arrived.
So there you go. The story behind the story of how George got on NBC Boston 10, how he became a media darling and a viral WS Game One sensation, how by him fainting on our flight he helped put Simply A Fan on the map (legit)….all because PC himself said yes to the NBC Boston interview! Which I’ve still never seen, nor do I know if it made a cut.
Thank you Patrick Cameron! My newly appointed Executive Vice President of Media & Communications for Simply A Fan. (Which is a part-time volunteer position).
Mark Jent is the chief trip planner and designated storyteller for Simply A Fan. He lives in Nashville with his wife Beth, and their three kids, Brooklyn, Harrison and Zach. He enjoys cheering on his Dodgers, reading baseball history, hiking at Radnor Lake and chasing waterfalls throughout Tennessee with his family. He launched Simply A Fan in July 2018 with the two-fold purpose of taking people on adventures to ballparks across the country and providing fans a platform to share their baseball stories. He is currently on a quest to meet as many of the living Brooklyn Dodgers as possible.