Fenway Park celebrates 100 years
In 1912 the price of gasoline was just seven cents a gallon, Arizona became a state and one of Major League Baseball's most historic ballparks, Fenway Park, opened its doors for the first time on April 20, 1912.
As this year's 2012 Boston Red Sox team takes the field, they will be playing amidst a celebration that has been 100 years in the making, as all of New England will be paying homage to the oldest ballpark in operation today.
Fenway Park has seen countless baseball games and concerts. It was the home of the American Football League's Boston Patriots, who later became the New England Patriots. And in 2010, Fenway hosted the NHL's second outdoor Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
Many things have changed since opening day of 1912 at "Friendly Fenway" as many of the locals call it. But much has stayed the same too. You can still take the T to the games on the MBTA green line and view the action from the same seats that Boston's Royal Rooters did generations ago. However with the addition of seats atop Fenway's famous left field wall known as the Green Monster and high definition video boards, Fenway has undergone many changes to keep the park up to date with some of today's more modern facilities.
Even with all these changes, Fenway has not lost that allure of old time baseball that our fathers and grandfathers enjoyed over the 20th century. If you grew up a Red Sox fan in New England, it was your dream to make it to the park one day to see for yourself what all the fuss was about.
I still have vivid memories of my first trip to Fenway from the summer of 1999. I went to the game with my uncle and grandfather; it was the last home game before the All-Star break and the Sox were playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It was a cloudy day with slight drizzle and the Red Sox lost 12-3. It's not the final score that I remember most, but what does last in my memory was walking up the tunnel and seeing that grand outfield grass and the towering left field for the first time. It's a memory that will last a lifetime. My story is unique to me, but it's a scene that is replicated over and over again as fathers take their children to Fenway for the first time.
Fenway has many quirky characteristics including the triangle formed by the center field walls, which can be troublesome for visiting opponents to play, the lone red seat in sea of green seats in centerfield, which signifies the longest homerun ever hit at Fenway by Ted Williams in 1946, and the foul pole in right field named after Red Sox legend, Jonny Pesky. Fenway is also only one of two ballparks that still uses a hand operated score board, the other being Chicago's Wrigley Field.
To Red Sox fans, Fenway Park is more than just a field to play the game on. It's the history and uniqueness of the ballpark that give Fenway its allure. Over the past 100 years, Fenway has seen some of the greatest moments in baseball history. In 1967, the Red Sox finished in first place and earned a trip to the World Series after finishing just half-a-game out of last place in 1966. The 1967 season would forever be remembered as the "Impossible Dream" season. In 1975 the Red Sox were back in the World Series again and in the sixth game of the series at Fenway, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk gave New England a moment that will live on for years to come. The game was tied in the 12-inning when Fisk hit a walk off homerun that landed just fair over the Green Monster. While the ball was in the air Fisk can be seen waving the ball fair as he trotted down the base path before jumping for joy as the Red Sox would play a Game 7.
Fenway Park has been the site of many defining moments in New England sports history and will continue to be for years to come. On March 7 of this year, Fenway was added to the National Register of Historic places. The owner of Fenway Park, John Henry, has said in countless interviews that with the renovations and additions that have taken place at the ballpark over the past decade, fans should continue to see baseball there for another 50 years.
The Red Sox home opener will be April 13 with the usual fanfare that accompanies opening day at Fenway. In the seats will be a wide range of fans, from the faithful who have been season ticket holders for life to those who are attending their first game at Fenway. The one thing that everyone will have in common is their love for the game in a ballpark that has stood the test of time.
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