Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday to America's Most Beloved Ballpark!

One hundred years ago today, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders on the very first Opening Day at Fenway Park.  There's been a lot of turmoil between now and then, but Fenway remains the center of baseball in Boston.

I know there are a lot of fans feeling jaded about the Red Sox lately, given the way last season ended and the way this one has begun.  People are feeling more attached to the nostalgia of Fenway than to many of the players on the team - and even that feeling has been cheapened by the never ending attempts to monetize the 100th Anniversary. You can buy bricks, shirts, hats, fan photos, and who knows what else.

But aside from the shameless attempts at profit, there's something magical about Fenway Park. You can sit in the same (uncomfortably small) seat your grandfather sat in and watch baseball on the field where Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice used to patrol.  There's something special about a manual scoreboard and the lack of between-innings gimmicks that own the day at many other MLB parks (ahem, Yankee Stadium, I am looking at you).

Yes, the prices are much higher than they used to be, and the players are (as a rule) overpaid - but Fenway Park has remained relatively static through the years. Sure, there are seats on the Green Monster now, and many of the once-wooden seats have been traded in for plastic, and there are more video boards than in yesteryear. But the Park is a living piece of history. According to team officials, it has about 40-45 more years of safe occupancy, and then the Red Sox will have to move out forever.

I'm sure they'll get a shiny new ballpark, where all of the seats face the infield, and where there aren't any beams to obstruct your view, and with a capacity much larger than what we're used to.  I don't know about you all, but I fully intend that when the time comes, I'll be that crotchety old lady who won't shut up about the way things were better "in my day."

That's what is so special about Fenway: this IS the ballpark of your grandparents - with a few small changes. It's creaky and old - but it's ours.

Sadly, I'll be missing the festivities this afternoon - both live (because I couldn't afford tickets) and on television (because I said I would work Trinity baseball before I checked the timing). Oh well, that's why NESN invented Sox in 2 at midnight... I can stay up until 2am on Spring Weekend, right?

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