CBS News: Fenway Park: This diamond is forever

April 15th, 2012

CBS News
April 15, 2012

(CBS News) The oldest park in the majors is set to turn one hundred later this week. Mo Rocca takes a tour:

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.

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