Thursday, May 17, 2012

They changed all the ball parks to corporate names and now they call them stadiums. I’m waiting for The Viagra Via dome to show up somewhere in some city. Ugh. Well at least there is one ball park left that is not a frankfurter and is still a place to play baseball. Boston’s Fenway Park is the oldest baseball field in the Major Leagues and is now turning 100 years old.
It is probably the only diamond that is forever; baseball diamond. A fun place that is located in a serious place. Boston. The home of Harvard, and a few miles away MIT; institutions that house the future corporate heads and future scientific innovators and then there are the good old fashioned heavy accented Boston Baseball Fans in their park not housed in a new stadium named after some company.
The stadium has a dismal history. Eighty six years of failure. The fans actually believe there was a curse put on the Red Sox Team years ago. The curse was put upon the team for selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920. But then, in 2004 they finally broke the loosing streak and won it all, The World Series. They haven’t won anything since 1918. There were many fans that went from birth to death without ever seeing a season win.
Now that the loosing streak was lifted in 2004, people also had renewed interest in Fenway Park. They began to notice how simple and well preserved a place it is. Located in a place that was once reclaimed swamp land, it is now nestled within busy city streets. There is a new book out called simply ‘Fenway Park” which is a tribute to the place calling it both majestic and tiny.
All Bostonians have a story to share that expresses their fondness for the place because most people’s story of how they reconnected with a relative or friend was in that place while watching another loosing game. Yes, priceless memories. The place conducts tours to people from all over the country and the world who don’t even go to see a single game. Yes, the building itself is historic.
There is the red seat located in a sea of green seats marked that color because it is the spot where Ted Williams hit his 502 foot home run. The sharp corners of the diamond , the ladder that rises to nowhere and the quirky score board that is not digital like in other arenas but has someone literally changing numbers behind a wall still. It is a place where the focus is on the field not on TV monitors all over the place and luxury boxes.
The only distracting focus is on the “green monster” as it is called. It is the legendary 37 foot high left field wall where skillful players used it as a place to form geometric angles. Depending on which spot they got the ball to hit and bounce off, created difficult angles for the poor catchers to try to get the ball and throw it to a base. Boston has famously crooked streets so the wall was built to try to keep the hit balls in the stadium and not breaking windows in the neighboring buildings surrounding the park.
Inside the left field wall hang the metal plates with numbers painted on them that are used to keep score. The complete opposite from anything highly technical. Meanwhile the folks at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology are probably working on engineering feats that are highly technical and digital. How redundant. Fenway Park wasn’t always the product of so much adulation. In 1999 it came within days of meeting a wrecking ball. New owners came in the last days of being destroyed and saved it.
The prevailing wisdom was that Fenway Park was an old relic and from another era. Luckily, the new administration saw its charm and relevance as the oldest living working ball park in America. Red Sox’s President Larry Camino also built Baltimore’s Camden Yard in 1992 . A ball park inspired by Fenway Park but modernized a bit to make it more comfortable.
Fenway Park is so beloved that there is a green monster wall in Fenway South, a park not a stadium, built in Fort Meyers, Florida . It is the site of Red Sox’s spring training with a playing field identical to the one in Boston. The current Manager of the team Bobby Valentine notes that there are tours there 360 days a year and there are also tours at the Florida park too which is Fenway without the horrible weather. I would love to see a game anywhere where the focus is on the game in a ball park.

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