An Icon in the History of Baseball Turns 100!
Oh, the hundred anniversary marks and events are all around us. Over the weekend we celebrated the Titanic by learning that the ship was NOT built poorly. We celebrated the lives of the people we lost out there in the Atlantic, and the ones who made their way, thankfully, to shore. But during that time period there was another, happier story, that began. It came from the world of sports and also celebrated its 100th anniversary with pomp, glitz and a whole lot of fun and memories that everyone still cherishes to this day.
Over the last century, Fenway Park has been THE location; it has been THE place where some of baseball’s most historic moments happened. It was no wonder that the place that birthed the “Red Sox Nation,” and fans who showed up every game in order to support their hometown team, turned Fenway – quite a long time ago – into “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”
100 years later it still is. It is a grand tradition, and without Fenway, baseball wouldn’t be as spectacular or as awesome a tradition as it is. Being able to watch a game at Fenway Park was and still is almost like winning the lottery; it has even been mentioned in films and books over the years that Fenway was the only place to be! The ballpark, over time, became an icon among all young boys and girls who loved the world of baseball.
But to actually be inside that ballpark on Opening Day and celebrate it’s 100th anniversary was an event that brought tears to the eyes. Everyone gets wrapped up in how the team is doing, the win/loss statistics, etc., but when it comes to the Red Sox, it is the ballpark, itself, that’s the real draw. This 101st season, the fans did not disappoint. They came out in flocks, flooded the streets, and filled the seats! These fans are passionate and demanding, and they take no prisoners where their beloved team and park are concerned.
Bobby Valentine, the new manager, stated: “I think we have the greatest fans in the world…We’ll find out.”
On Friday the fans were surrounded by colorful decorations adorning their park as their team began a grueling nine-game home series – four against Tampa Bay, two against Texas, and three against the New York Yankees.
Now last year’s start was even worse, it ended up to be an 0-6 flop that was overshadowed by a September slide that ended at 7-20, leaving them out of the playoffs, with a loss on the final day. They did surge from last year’s early troubles and were able to take possession of first place in the American League East by May 27th.
Even though the fans got a great game and are geared up for what is to come, there was an aura of the past looming over the ballpark. It felt as if you could close your eyes and when you opened them once again, the team from April 20th, 1912 would run into the stadium and once again beat the New York Highlanders (who later became the Yankees, of course) in the first regular-season game.
The Yankees will be coming to town on the 100th anniversary of that game to open a three-game series with the Red Sox, so it will soon seem just like old times. The only difference being that the players are getting paid a tad bit more than they did in 1912.
It was in early March that Fenway was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and it has had a facelift over time. The seats above the ‘Green Monster’ were upgraded, the concourses were revamped, a new scoreboard was added, but the old charm and the old memories still have their place among the ‘new,’ updated look.
“Fenway Park has no veneer. It is the real thing. It is not trendy or fashionable. It is just a place to watch baseball.” That is a quote that sums up what we all love about the institution that is Fenway Park.
Present-day players and the rotation is still a question. John Lester was solid in his two starts. Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz were shelled; Daniel Bard is making his transition right before fans’ eyes; and Felix Doubront is in the ‘game’ at Fenway for the very first time. Jonathan Papelbon’s replacement, Andrew Bailey, will most likely be sidelined until midseason after his thumb surgery. The bullpen is interesting to say the least, and fans will have to watch with pride and anxiety as the season moves forward.
But for those who really do go to the ballpark in order to get a small taste of history and see and feel the memories that made Fenway shine, there are things that you can actually buy now – mementos to bring home and feel as if you’re a part of history.
There is a stunning coffee table book just released which is the Fenway Park 100th Anniversary. This tells of the enduring mark that Fenway has made on the American pastime. From baseball highlights to 100 years encompassing other sports, entertainment, and civic events in Boston; to the 21st century commitment that was made by a brand new group of owners to preserve, save, and improve the beloved ballpark for future generations, this book has it all. Tributes from many Fenway Park fans are included – everyone from Ben Affleck to Paul McCartney have something to say about the place that changed the world of baseball forever – and the book will mean everything to a Red Sox fan!
There is certainly one more thing that must be mentioned. There is an opportunity to buy a pair of historic seats from Fenway Park. Renovations over the years have been made, but the seats have been saved. And you can have them for your very own!
AND…on April 20th, when that amazing game is replayed from 100 years ago, a man by the name of Charlie Gilbert will be honored. This 100-year-old Brookline resident will be introduced and shown on the video board during the historic match up. Yet another Bostonian who truly loves his team and loves his ballpark. Hopefully all fans will see it ‘go down’ as it did once before.
Boston wins! 7-6 in the 11th inning!
Now that would be a trip into the past that no one will want to miss!\
Until Next Time, Everybody.