One hundred years is a long time for anything. But in the era of luxury boxes and retractable roofs, 100 years of Major League Baseball at one stadium seems unthinkable.
But that’s exactly what Boston and all of New England will be celebrating this afternoon, as the Red Sox host the New York Yankees on the 100th anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park. On that same day in 1912, Tiger Stadium in Detroit opened, but only Fenway is left standing to mark the occasion.
Just think for a second all of the game’s greats that have played at Fenway: Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle … it goes on and on and on to today’s greats.
And the best part about Fenway is you can feel that history the second you walk through the gate and into the stadium. Literally, you get goose bumps. If you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you.
I had the pleasure of attending a regular-season game at Fenway with my youngest brother back in 2007. The whole trip was amazing, but of course Fenway is what I best remember.
We had tickets to a July night game against the Kansas City Royals. Being as we were pretty much free from obligation all afternoon, we headed down to the Kenmare Square area early and took a tour of the monument to baseball’s past.
When you’re approaching the stadium, you’re immediately struck by the fact that the outside doesn’t look like a stadium at all. At least not the ones I’m used to seeing. The whole place just kind of jumps out at you when you’re next to it.
I remember vividly walking through that gate and heading up the concrete ramps that took you to the second level of the park, then walking through with the tour group until the field was right there in front of you, Green Monster and all. Green everywhere really. Green walls, green grass … you name it.
The tour was an education, but the game that night was where the fun really kicked into gear. The city blocks outside Fenway were hopping before that midseason game against the Royals. This was a whole ‘nother level of baseball fandom that I simply wasn’t used to yet.
It was the first time I had attended a major league game outside of the Metrodome. And it was actually kind of odd at first to watch a big league game without a roof above you. Can you believe that? I imagine the reverse happened a lot when outsiders walked into the Metrodome, but it was true for me anyway.
Then you get that hot dog and beer, sit back in your seat – ours had been in the park since the 1930s – and watch the game just like fans had generations ago. Sure, there’s a pillar that obstructs your view a bit. But hey, it’s Fenway.
I remember the seventh-inning stretch, then the eighth-inning singing of “Sweet Caroline,” at the time not realizing that happens every single night at the park.
And when that game ended – the Royals won 9-3 (box score here) – I didn’t want to leave, knowing full well it could be a while before I get back there again.
I’ve been to a lot of great parks. Wrigley Field, the new Busch Stadium and Target Field to name a few. But Fenway is still my favorite. Why? I don’t know. Just felt like it.
I leave you with a video of the “Sweet Caroline” song I found on YouTube. Think it’s actually from the game I was at.