Fenway Park: 100 years of baseball, tears and smiles
On April 20, 2012, Fenway Park will turn 100 years old. No other ballpark in Major League Baseball history has reached this milestone. Home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912, “America’s most beloved ballpark” holds millions of memories—good and bad—for Red Sox and baseball fans alike.
In 1960, writer John Updike wrote: “Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg.” For 100 years, Fenway Park has been a constant in our ever-changing lives. Going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, with all its intimate quirks, is a happy reminder of a simpler time.
In early April, for the past century, Fenway Park’s gates on Yawkey Way have welcomed fans eager to see some of the greatest players in Major League history. The memories of these players and the great plays they made live on from generation to generation. Whether it was Babe Ruth pitching in his first game, or Carlton Fisk waving a game-winning homerun in the 1975 World Series Fair, or David Ortiz’s two walk-off runs against the Yankees during the 2004 ALCS, there are many stories that will forever live on in Red Sox folklore. And the most important similarity about them all is that they all occurred at Fenway.
But Fenway is more than just a baseball ballpark. It is as much a symbol of Boston as Boston is a symbol of Fenway Park. Looking from the third baseline, the Boston skyline stands tall over the bleachers well into the distance. Each year, tourists make Fenway Park one of the top three visited sites in Boston. To fully understand the culture of Boston, one must understand the deep importance of the Red Sox—and Fenway Park—to Bostonians.
Former baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti wrote of Fenway: “As I grew up, I knew that as a building, [it] was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation’s capitol, the Czar’s Winter Palace, and the Louvre—except, of course, that is better than all those inconsequential places.” When entering Fenway Park for the first time, it is hard not to be overcome by the greenness of it all, the knowledge that one hundred years of history occurred here and, most significantly, that this is where millions of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren have come together and enjoyed a game at the “ole ballpark.”
Only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field in Chicago remain as markers from the early twentieth century golden age of ballparks. While the future of Wrigley Field is uncertain, it is important we appreciate the beauty of each of these ballparks, and remind ourselves of the amazing stories that the outfield walls would tell if they could talk. It is important to hold onto these things from out past. These ballparks help us tell the story about our families, our city, our nation and ourselves. If someday Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are torn down, we will lose all of that.
So this Friday, no matter which team you support, wish Fenway Park a very happy 100th Birthday. It has stood the test of time. It has witnessed fans crying after painful losses and the hugging of strangers after each Red Sox home-run. For one hundred years it has performed the same function: being the home field of the Boston Red Sox. And for 100 years, Fenway has been there—for the players, for the fans, for the citizens of Boston and for all Americans.
Happy Birthday, Fenway, and thank you for the memories.