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Friday, April 20, 2012

Fenway @ 100

On the 20th of April in 1912, Fenway Park opened its doors for the first time to Major League Baseball. Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of that occasion—that is 100 years for you that are numerically challenged. Fittingly enough, the Red Sox’s opponents on that day were the New York Yankees. Again, today’s Red Sox opponent will be the New York Yankees—100 years later. In 1912 the Red Sox won and the rest is history, right up to today.

I have never been to a game at Fenway—have always wanted to but so far the stars have not aligned—far too many armadillos in the back yard is my best guess. So, I’m guessing this desire calls for the formulation of that great American nostalgic undertaking—a Road Trip. Maybe I can talk my son into a short jaunt to the New England area in the near future. I would really like to take in a game at Fenway. I think my son may have already been there; he’ll probably let me know just as soon as he sees this peace. I was in town (Boston for those MLB challenged out there) one weekend when the Red Sox were in town, but was accompanied by a bunch of fuddy-duddies that were not baseball fans and the opportunity escaped my reach—I have been told that there are six or eight Red Blooded Americans that aren’t MLB fans out there some where.

How often do you get to be connected with history? The chance to watch and feel the tingle of a game (any game for that matter) being played in a stadium that reaches back into history one hundred years should not be looked on with the slightest bit of trepidation. If ya got the chance, take it,

I have encountered the opportunity to do so several times over the span of years I have been walking this Earth and have never regretted taking the chance any of those thrilling times. Sometimes it has to become a memory that comes back to you later when you realize that the chance of it ever happening again is now gone forever. Twice while stationed in the New York area in the early 80s my wife Patsy and the kids, Joe and Stephanie, had a like opportunity. A visit from my parents, Dutch and Anne from Texas, found us at the top of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty on the same day. Both of my parents are no longer with us, but Man, what a memory? The other opportunity that I will never forget was the trip the wife, kids and I took into Manhattan one weekend and rode the elevators to the top of World Trade Center #1. Walking out on that observation deck and realizing you were a quarter mile closer to Heaven was amazing—but never again!

Watching the news on CBS this morning, they had a segment on Fenway @ 100 and Erica Hill ( a self professed “life long Yankee fan”) said that she had attended school in Boston and her dad had reminded her not to root for the Red Sox, but her impression of exiting the tunnel to gaze upon the grounds at Fenway took her breath away. This also got me to remembering back.

I have written here in the past about my early trip to see the Cardinals play the Dodgers in 1951 and the thrill that was to me—eight future Hall of Famers on the field that day. On equal stance within my memory vault is another trip in April of 1979 that three of us from my Army days (Dick Ellis, Mike Longwell and I) stopping off on our way back to West Point at Yankee Stadium to buy a scalper’s ticket to see a Yankee game that evening.

Upon arriving on the scene of Old Yankee Stadium—not the New Yankee Stadium on today, the Old Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth built—we happened upon a group of cops who just so happened to be members of the same National Guard unit we had visited just that same day. They parked our van on the street right in front of the stadium and promised us it would be safe and there when the game was over—they watched it and it was there when we exited for our trip home.

But—I need to get to the memory—the best and most amazing part of the entire night was not the game, who was on the field or any specific play that night. No, the thrill was exiting the tunnel and first casting my eyes on the playing field of Yankee Stadium for the first time. Your breath departs your body or you forget to breathe; whatever it is, you are stopped dead in your tracks. I’m not sure you heart beats for a moment or two. It is a feeling you have to experience; one can not adequately describe. It has to be lived.

If you have the chance some time today, take a moment and dig into your vault of memories and dredge up a connection with history. See how it makes you feel. I recommend the trip. Leave me a comment describing your discovery. Your day will be the better for doing so. Take my word for it.

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