100 Years (and 15 Minutes) at Fenway Park
You love the Red Sox, but have they ever loved you back? ~from “Fever Pitch”
Anybody who knows anything about baseball, especially Red Sox baseball, knows yesterday was a special day: the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park. Though the game was a loss to the archrival Yankees, the day meant so much more. Fenway, along with Wrigley Field in Chicago, is one of the few remaining old-timey, non-corporate classic ballparks. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Curt Schilling all had many glorious days here. Millions of Sox fans have enjoyed heartbreak (and more recently, elation) from its stands.
Me? I got 15 minutes. 15 lousy minutes.
Mom’s family is from Boston: one big extended family of Boston Irish. The one guy in the family who had Sox tickets, go figure, was the token Italian: my great-uncle. He knew somebody who knew somebody, or so the story went. We always just figured he was working for the Mafia.
The time I got to go to my one and only Red Sox game was back in the mid-90s, when they were good but not that good. I was thrilled when my uncle drew my name from the hat to go to the game. Everybody got the chance and it was my day. I can still remember walking through the gates, taking in everything: the weak New England sunshine, the towering Green Monster in left, the calls of hawkers and vendors. It was the perfect day for baseball.
There was only one problem…I’d picked the worst possible day to get sick to my stomach.
Sure, I gamely tried to stick it out. I think I even made it through the first inning before I retreated to the ladies’ room, not to return. Mom and Dad had to come get me and our plane left the next day. I can at least say I got to take in part of a game at Fenway, and that I left something of myself behind. Though it wasn’t the something I’d hoped. (The Sox did win the game…I listened in on WEEI in between stomach cramps.)
I haven’t been back since. The Sox, of course, broke the old Curse of the Bambino and ended 86 years of futility in 2004. For good measure they won another World Series in 2007. I followed them faithfully the whole time, either on ESPN or NESN. Maybe barfing my guts out on those hallowed grounds actually turned out to be a good thing.
I’m sure I’ll make it back one day. My uncle has gone and with him, that pair of tickets. He died a happy man, I can tell you that. And I know that if I make it up to Boston, I can find a seat at the Fens. I’ve got another 100 years.
Besides, as I constantly tell myself, it could be a lot worse. I could be a Cubs fan.
Happy 100th, Fenway Park! May you never die!
Coming very soon: the results of Guilty Pleasure Movies! I know you’re all waiting on pins and needles!
Have a great weekend, guys, and don’t forget to click that “Like” button…even if you’re a Yankees fan.