Major League baseball over the past one-hundred years has had many changes come about, not only the way the game is now played but also to every teams baseball stadium that has gone from the old "Take me out to the Ballpark" family environment to the new retro twenty-first century look that now fosters a more corporate environment that you could take your family to and spend days at the ball park and still not do everything there is to do, in addition to watching the game. Baseball has changed over the years but there is still one entity that has not changed and I don`t think it ever will and that is Boston`s Fenway Park.
Still centered on Yawkee Way in Boston which it has been the last 100 years there is still dominance about the old ball park as it sits in a new metropolitan setting but still as the same look it did in 1912. As you drive by it you get the feeling of the old sentimental past this old ball park is so known for and the many historical moments in baseball that took place here.
This week Fenway turned 100 years old and as a coincidence it was built the same year the Titanic sank. As some of the greatest players in not only Major League baseball`s history but also in Red Sox`s history strolled back onto the field this week to celebrate the Centennial of Fenway Park the fans once again took to a standing ovation as they had so many times over the years as the great players that once wore the Boston Red Sox colors gave the fans so much to cheer about.
"It was awesome being able to see all the guys that have played throughout the years," said Adrian Gonzalez, who spent part of the day getting to know Mo Vaughn, one of his predecessors as a Red Sox first baseman. "For me to be able to say thank you for all the guys who paved the way, it was pretty special." (Gonzalez, 2012)
The Red Sox were playing a three-game series with the New York Yankees and as another coincidence when the Sox played for their game at Fenway back on April 20, 1912 on opening day they also played the Yankees who at that time were known as the New York Highlanders and later changed their name to the New York Yankees. The Sox beat the Highlanders that day 7-6 in eleven innings back then on that first series. The Sox went on to win the 1912 World Series and added three more World Series titles to the resume that same decade.
"This ballpark has created as many memories for people in this area and around the world as any venue in the world," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said before the game. "The park here has at least a life of its own and a magic to it. It`s the baseball land of Oz. People dream about this place." (Valentine, 2012)
"For whatever age you are, you can go back and think about the players that you watched as a kid," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who as a player made his home at Wrigley Field and the original Yankee Stadium. "It`s the same place. It`s the same feel. Yeah, they`ve added a few things here and there and a few seats here and there. But it`s still the same feel."
I know how it does feel to hear the name Fenway Park. For me who used to eat, sleep, drink, play, and think baseball 24/7 it is a way of life. I have been a living part of so many historical moments not only in sports but in baseball and especially at Fenway Park. Who can forget the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds. I lived every waking moment of that World Series as if I was a player in it. To me, it was the greatest World Series and always will be. It was full of the greatest players to ever play the game. Players like Yastrzemski, Bench, Morgan, Darcy, Lynn, Foster, Rose, Fisk, Tiant, Rice, Burleson, Bill Spaceman Lee " just to name a few made it the series it lived up to be.
The one moment I remember and I think every baseball fan does remember was what was known as the "Shot Heard Round the World." If I remember correctly since I am not looking at the Internet right now to be able to research it this is strictly from memory the Red Sox were down six games to five in the series and on the verge of losing and going home for the winter. The series had been a back and forth struggle for the Sox as the Reds were not only favored to win the series but had the power line up to back up that claim.
I remember the middle part of the series was rained out for about three games or so and resumed at Fenway Park. It was Game six in the series and the score was tied six all as the game went to extra innings. I remember looking at the clock because it was past my bed time as a kid and had to go to school the next day, it was 9:03 pm on the West Coast since I lived in Northridge, California.
Carleton Fisk came to bat in the bottom of the twelfth-inning as the crowd at Fenway went from a roaring lion to a hum of doldrums. Everyone was probably tired since it was well past midnight on the East Coast and everyone wanted to get the game over with since there really was no excitement in it since the Sox tied the score at six all earlier in the game.
I watched the television thinking Fisk was probably going to just ground out or maybe and hopefully going to get a hit to get something started for the Red Sox. As the first couple of pitches went by I thought to myself, O.k., just take a swing at the next pitch and hit the ball and make something happen. Then, it came the shot heard round the world. As the next pitch came to the plate, it was like Fisk was on the fairway and hitting a golf ball off a tee. He swung at the pitch and connected. Crack! The ball went flying like a shot out of a canon towards the thirty-foot Green Monster in left field. Fisk stopped along the first base line and stood there watching the ball in flight as he jumped up and down, waving his arms like he was trying to help the ball stay fair.
I think every moment in time around the world suddenly froze as if time was also waiting to see if the ball was going to stay fair or go foul. As the ball soared into the left-field bleachers and over the Green Monster and just to the right of the left-field foul pole (Boy, I would love to be the fan that caught that baseball) every eye watching the game must have looked at the Third base umpire as he signaled the ball fair. The Fenway crowd burst into an explosion of cheers, I jumped up and down in my bedroom and probably every Red Sox fan took a sigh of relief as Fisk just took the series to a Game Seven and restored in every Red Sox fans heart a sense that the Sox had a chance of winning the 1975 World Series as he won Game Six in a dramatic fashion.
Of course for us baseball fans we know the next night the Red Sox came up short and lost the series in seven games but at least it is what counts that we take with us, the memorable moments. And again last week at Fenway the memories came back to life once again.
It was the place to be last week as the huge 100 year celebration featured many of the past players. Jim Rice began the procession of former ballplayers, coming out of a gate under the stands and taking his familiar place in left field. What followed was a steady procession of graying ballplayers in starched white or yellowing jerseys, giving the fans one more chance to cheer for stars Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski or fan favorites like Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Bill Buckner, Luis Tiant and Nomar Garciaparra. (yahoo.com)
The cool thing is the players were all wearing the replica uniforms that matched the 1912 style the teams wore back in that era which also included the players wearing the white caps. Even the Yankees were wearing throwback uniforms which are a first in their team history. "I loved them. Cool," said Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 631st career homer to move into fifth on baseball`s all-time list and lead New York to a 6-2 victory on Friday. "We can`t keep `em, though." (Rodriquez, 2012)
The day and celebration even extended to Washington as Caroline Kennedy threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Her Great Grandfather just happened to be the "Mayor of Boston, John Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald when Fenway Park first opened in 1912.
So, the Fenway Park 100-year Centennial celebration was filled with excitement, many memories and players and the sense as if it was truly 1912 all over again as Beantown or better known as Boston was treated to a memorable moment and Fenway Park once again was the center of attention and probably will be once again in another 100 years to come.
All my quotes used were from the article on this from yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012.