Map of Fenway Park, c. 1917
Today, as you’ve probably heard by now, is this website’s one-year anniversary. We’re all blown away by the progress that this site’s seen in one year, and we’ve got a lot of amazing planned for the future. If this is your first stop here, we hope you enjoy the website and make it part of your rotation. If you’re a repeat offender, then welcome back – we appreciate your support, and it’s a pleasure to write for you.
Anniversaries matter because they give you a sense of place. They remind you how long you’ve been somewhere, how long you’ve been with someone, how long you’ve been doing something. They remind you of time passing, and of time standing still. Anniversaries help structure your memories, and they help you decide where you still need to go.
For the Red Sox, this year marks the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening. If you spend any time at all around Red Sox Nation, you’ve seen the television ads. You can buy a brick and have it engraved! You can get tickets for the anniversary season! You can buy books, magazines, shirts! Fenway’s the oldest professional sports venue that’s still being used in the United States, and it’s worth celebrating.
What I love most about Fenway Park is that, when you walk in, you can still
Lady Grantham, Red Sox fan?
sense what it was like for the people that showed up for the first Red Sox game in Fenway Park on April 20, 1912. Do any of you watch Downton Abbey, the PBS show? I think it’s amazing that people dressed like that showed up at the Fens to watch the left fielder negotiate Duffy’s Cliff. In fact, Fenway Park opened just four days after the Titanic sank – a major plot point in Downton Abbey, and a worldwide event that pushed the park’s opening off of Boston’s front pages.
When I settle myself as comfortably as possible into one of the old wooden grandstand seats in right field, it’s easy to imagine Downton’s Lady Cora Grantham – or, more entertainingly, her prim British mother in law – sitting next to me. It’s easy to hear the ball slam off the Green Monster and remember that the Green Monster wasn’t always green. We watch Mariano Rivera warm up in the visitor’s bullpen, and remember that the bullpen was built there in 1940, in order to shorten the right-field fence for Ted Williams. The lasting evidence of Williams’ power? The red seat in the right-field bleachers, marking the spot where his longest home run landed (502 feet, and, legend says, it hit an inattentive Yankees fan on the head). Since then, only Manny Ramirez has come close – he hit a 501-foot home run off a light tower over the Monster in 2001. We can see the graffiti marking Pesky’s Pole – it seems a routine that, if you sit near the right-field foul pole, you pull out a black Sharpie and mark your territory. How many times, you wonder, has the lower ten feet or so of the pole been written on, painted over, and then written on again?
Fenway Park is more than a cool old baseball stadium – it’s a museum, and
a living testament to the faith that’s bound Red Sox fans together since before World War I. A large part of following the Red Sox is respecting the franchise’s past, and a large part of visiting Fenway is allowing that past to mingle with the present and the future. When we visit Fenway, we’re reminded of how long we’ve been there. We’re reminded of where we’ve been, and we’re reminded of where we still need to go.
Happy anniversary, Fenway, and happy anniversary, Aerys. It’s been an amazing 100 years and a remarkable first year, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.