“It was awesome, whether you are a Red Sox fan or not. I am a baseball fan and this day is a great day for baseball.” – Yankee outfielder Nick Swisher
“Fenway is a dump. From a player’s point of view, it is not a place where you want to go to work.” – Tampa Bay outfielder Luke Scott
The New York Yankees helped the Red Sox celebrate 100 years at Fenway Park, just as they had on April 20, 1912 when they opened the park as the visiting Highlanders. The park, which opened the same week as the Titanic sunk, has been given a reprieve by the new Red Sox ownership. A decade ago, the shrine was marked for demolition and plans were being made to somehow incorporate the “Green Monster” into a shiny, new ballpark. A new ownership group, led by John Henry came in with the idea of building a competitive club and saving Fenway.
Over the next 10 years, the Red Sox finally won a World Series and the ownership plowed nearly $285 million into Fenway Park improvements. “You don’t tear down a cathedral,” Henry was quoted as saying shortly after taking the reins.
On the 100th anniversary, virtually every living Red Sox player joined the celebration. It was certainly a special day for the Red Sox faithful as they honored their heroes dating back to the World War II era. The day was marred only by a lackluster Red Sox outing that resulted in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of those most hated Yankees. It was a throwback game, complete with turn of the last century uniforms that lacked not only names, but numbers. The look on the field seemed to match the Park itself.
For baseball fans, Fenway is important, just as is Wrigley. What sets these parks apart is of course the fact that they are the last two. Ball parks are important to us. Our visit to Yankee stadium a few years back changed my entire outlook on the Yankees. I hated them with a passion, but once I passed through those hallowed gates, I never felt quite the same animosity. The Stadium is now gone. The first two ballparks I visited as a youth, Forbes Field and Connie Mack Stadium were replaced with great fanfare by hideous, concrete, multipurpose structures in the early 70’s. Fabulous old ballparks have now sprung up in Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The game marches on.
In early June, we will be making our pilgrimage to Fenway Park for a weekend series with the Nationals. We will experience the grand old ballpark, warts and all. It will be a religious experience of sorts. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Rico Petrocelli, Tony Conigliaro, Dick Williams and even Pumpsie Green will be there among us. We are looking forward to it with racing hearts.