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Happy 100th Fenway, Thanks for the Memories (Revolution Radio Network Contributor, Earl Bender, shares some thoughts on the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park)
My brother Larry always says, “There’s no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark.” Fenway is a great ballpark and I’ve had spent some great days and great evenings there.
My personal favorite was Opening Day, April 10th 1981. Now I’ve always felt OPENING DAY is special. In fact, I believe it should be a National Holiday – what better way to celebrate Spring than by sitting in a stadium watching the annual rebirth of the National Pastime, even when it means freezing your…nose off.
Opening Day 1981: Carlton Fisk’s first game as a White Sox. Pudge had just left the Red Sox after a nasty contract dispute with ownership. The media had built this game up as a grudge match, speculating endlessly how Red Sox Nation would treat their former icon. Red Sox v. White Sox. Drama. Hoopla. Playoff atmosphere.
Early 1981 I had the blues, bad. See, I was a Jimmy Carter guy – two presidential campaigns, Department of Justice and the White House. My guy got clobbered in the 1980 election. I lost my job and so did just about everybody I knew. Democrats’ fortunes were in the tank. As the blues line goes, “Been down so long, it looks like up to me.”
So, off to Opening Day with a true friend from Boston. (Who else would waste a ticket on an out-of-towner?) A chance to see Sox play Sox. A chance to take part in the spectacle and see fans react to their former star.
Great game, it stayed competitive. Great day, it snowed, for a few minutes. A day for coffee, not beer. Friends talking baseball and politics and baseball. Neither Sox had lost a game, so everything was possible, the Yankees could be vanquished, long yearned for World Series championships could happen. The Democrats hadn’t lost any either; surely they’d have a better season.
During Pudge’s first at bat, the fans saluted Pudge, letting him know they still cared. A few fans booed, but most clapped or cheered. They were letting the world know it was the Red Sox management that screwed up, not their exiled hero.
Your BoSox were holding a 2-0 lead, but the Pale Hose (as Boston, but not Chicago, sportswriters frequently call them) were still in it.
Top of the 8th and the White Sox had something going. Two men on base, we could tie this up. Pudge to the plate. Conversation stops, stadium noise fades away and all 35 thousand plus lock in on the moment. Pudge rips a line drive. Deep. It’s gone. Instantly on my feet, I’m roaring approval. Suddenly, you realize, you’re the VISITOR and you’re violating sacred space. But I had to cheer, Pudge had just given us, the White Sox, the lead. One that would hold up despite a 9th inning Red Sox rally.
Great day in a Great Ballpark.
Happy Birthday Fenway,
P.S. For fans wanting to stroll down memory lane, click here.