Thanks to Jere at “A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory” I attended yesterday’s game celebrating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. I finally got to meet Jere’s mother Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, author of Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery and is finishing up a novel set in the Civil War.
The latest skirmish in the century-long battle between the Yankees and the Red Sox saw a humiliating retreat on the home team’s own territory. Five blasts, two by Eric Chavez (the eight-hitter) and one each by Alex Rodriguez (advancing past Ken Griffey, Jr. in career home runs, which is sickening), Nick Swisher, and Russell Martin (from the bottom of the order), rode the wind to breach the field’s perimeter.
Just being at Fenway on this historic day lessened the sting. As part of the ceremony players from all eras emerged from the outfield doors and the dugout as ghosts from the cornfields did in Field of Dreams. Players of more recent vintage received louder applause: Dwight Evans, Bill Lee, Oil Can Boyd, Louis Tiant, Nomar Garciaparra, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, and even Lou Merloni. Living members of the Baseball Hall of Fame Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice also were loudly feted. Of those players cream-colored uniforms Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr had the loudest cheers. There was only one African-American man in the oldest uniform.
Pumpsie Green hobbled from the center field door to take his rightful spot in the infield. Although his body was bent with time I could sense his indomitable spirit. Others of his age needed walkers or wheelchairs, but not Green. In a recent interview Green said, “If I had to do it over again, I’d do the same thing the same way.” If Red Sox management were more open-minded, maybe Green would have been backing up Jackie Robinson.
As the last bars of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played the World War II-era P-51 Mustang propellers roared overhead accompanied by the barely perceptible hiss of a F-16 Fighting Falcon. I thought to myself, “That alone was worth the price of admission.” From my standing room spot on the Green Monster I had a perfect view of those fantastic flying machines.
I have never been a huge fan of “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth. There were vacant seats in the left field grandstand that Jere noted so we made the pilgrimage to the blue chairs for the last two innings. We happened to sit behind a quartet of older women. I didn’t expect them to countenance such newfangled shenanigans, but they all stood up to sing, dance, point fingers, and hold hands to Neil Diamond. They enjoyed it so much it, I was an admirer of the practice, at least for one day.
On my way to see the additions to the park because of its new historical standing there was a trio of women who wanted to take a picture by the logo that was introduced in 1912 and was in effect until 1930. I had always feel badly for the person who gets stuck taking the picture of their group while everyone else gets to smile for the camera and I understand how awkward it can be to flag down a hopefully sympathetic Samaritan, so I volunteered to take a picture for them.
After checking out the new plaques in Fenway and somehow making sense of the Souvenir Store’s new labyrinthine layout I made my way back to my car. A man and his son, who happened to be wheelchair-bound, waited with me. I saw some Yankee-related accessories on the wheelchair but the father had a polo shirt with a Red Sox logo. A few more disappointed Red Sox fans shuffled in and the father broke the ice by saying, “At least one guy in here had a good day!” We proceeded to rib the sole Yankee fan good-naturedly.
It was a good day in other ways for us.
|Game 13: April 20, 2012|
|New York Yankees
||W: Ivan Nova (3-0)|
|2B: Nick Swisher (5)|
HR: Swisher (3), Eric Chavez – 2 (2), Alex Rodriguez (2), Russell Martin (1)
|Boston Red Sox
||L: Clay Buchholz (1-1)|
|2B: Kevin Youkilis (2), Ryan Sweeney (6), Cody Ross (3), Mike Aviles (3)|
HR: David Ortiz (2)