April 15, 2012
For fans of the Boston Red Sox, baseball isn’t just a game – it’s fate.
“I was born a Red Sox fan,” said Amy Olsen. “You have no choice.”
It’s a consuming passion with soaring highs and searing lows, 86 years of them – a curse cast on the team, fans believe, for selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.
And then, in 2004, the Sox won it all. A curse lifted – and jubilation.
It was the beginning of a new chapter in the saga that has played out year after year at Fenway Park – as idiosyncratic and storied as the team that plays there.
“It is a living room, it’s a backyard. It is a temple. It is all those things,” said Janice Page.
The “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark,” as John Updike called it, celebrates its 100th birthday on Friday.
“We’re sort of scrunched in here into what was reclaimed swampland,” explained Page. She is editor of “Fenway Park: A Salute to the Coolest, Cruelest, Longest-Running Major League Baseball Stadium in America.”
“Your first impulse is usually sort of, ‘Oh my God, this is beautiful, and amazing!'” she said. “And your second impulse is, I think for most people – which kind of collides with it – is, ‘It’s so small!’ It’s both majestic and tiny.”
“I feel like I’m walking into a place where things happen,” said Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. “Something special may happen today. Babe Ruth played there, Ted Williams played there.”
For Shaughnessy, Fenway isn’t just a place he goes to work: “Having my dad take me there for the first time in 1961; being with my sister when Fisk hit his homerun in ’75; the last time I saw my father-in-law I was in Fenway Park in 1979. For me, it’s a very personal place with a lot of personal memories.”
Year-round, citizens of Red Sox nation (a far-flung diaspora) come to pay homage. One woman said she was from New Jersey, where everyone is a Yankees fan, “but I hate the Yankees.”
Others come from Greenville, S.C., and Ireland to see the red seat where Ted Williams’ 502-foot homer landed … those quirky corners . . . that ladder to nowhere.
There’s a magic here that touches even newcomers.