A couple of months ago I guided you through Wrigley Field, partly through the eyes of my Son, Dan Alexander. Today we use those eyes and ears to see Fenway Park; It is 100 years old and the strangest of all ball parks.
For those of you that were just born, Fenway Park is in the middle of the Fenway business district in Boston and home to the Boston Red Sox. Dan decided to add this historic relic of a park to his lifelong journey to see as many of the ballparks, of all sports, as he can.
“The first thing you notice is that there is no parking for the stadium,” said Dan. “I had to park in a gas station for $10. And this was an off day. I was going on a tour of Fenway.” The rest of the fans have to take public transportation or park in office buildings.
The next thing you notice is the Green Monster. This is the fence in left field that is 37 feet tall and a little more than 300 feet down the line. It can’t go any further because there is a street right behind it. Even when they added 269 seats in 2003 they hang over the street. “And these are premium seats,” said Dan. “They hold a lottery every year just to get a chance to buy them.” No advertising is allowed on that wall.
Dan couldn’t figure out why a big sign outside of the wall was still there. It reads CITGO which is the logo for Cities Services. When they tried to remove it in the early 1980’s it proved just how sentimental people are in Boston. The players want to keep it because they read it “C-IT-GO” which refers to the home run blasts over the wall.
The fans wanted to keep the monument to the 20th mile mark of the Boston Marathon. The pulsing light is used by mothers-to-be at nearby Beth Israel Hospital to time their contractions. By the way, the bulbs were replaced in 2010 with new LED bulbs. Can’t say they are completely old fashioned.
“They really are sentimental there,” said Dan. “The lower level all has new seats. But the upper level has the original seats because the fans want to sit in the original seats their grandparents sat in. Also, if they replaced those seats they would lose 3,000 seats due to new ADA and size regulations that would have to be met.”
Dan said you get an antique feel to the place when you walk in but it is very clean and hospitable.
I guess they will never be able to replace Fenway Park. It was completed in April of 1912. The wall was colored “Fenway Green” and that color is patented and not commercially available. I bet Ted Williams could get a can of it!
But the park is loved by the people just the way it is. No parking, uncomfortable seats and all. “I guess they just had horse and buggies back then (in 1912),” said Dan.
“There is bar you can enter from the street behind the wall. But during games the patrons can see the field but no one can see in the bar. I don’t think there is a cover charge.”
I’ve heard the fans don’t leave the game early and even cheer and jeer their players to a fault. But they really get into it at Fenway. Maybe they are so grumpy from trying to get into the place, and then are so uncomfortable during the game, and then when they leave, it must be a nightmare. At least by our standards. But I understand Boston is a different place.
I alluded to Ted Williams, the famous Boston baseball player. He hated the stadium. The only thing he liked was the abundance of pigeons. He had a rifle and would shoot pigeons for fun.
Williams was responsible for the owners bringing in the right field fence 20 feet in 1940 as they tried to compensate for that short porch in left field. It reminds me what they did at the Coliseum in 1958, remember? The right field fence was so far out it was ridiculous to make up for the 250-foot left field fence.
Leigh Montville, the author of Williams’ biography, said it best. “For Williams every day at Fenway was a battle. He would never love the place, never see the charm in it. The intimacies of the park were annoyances.”
But Dan could see the charm of the old park. Thank you for sharing it with us.