11:53 AM EDT, May 23, 2011
On Yawkey Way in Boston, the pitch is simple: Come to Fenway Park and see baseball history.
Babe Ruth played here. (Just ask a Red Sox fan about “The Curse of the Bambino.”) So did Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx, Smoky Joe Wood, Johnny Pesky, Jim Lonborg, Carlton Fisk and, more recently, a collection of “self-styled idiots”.
It hasn’t always been pretty. But the Red Sox have won two World Series in the past decade, ending The Curse, and the creaky, crumbling park has been revitalized by new management.
It’s the old, and new, Fenway that attracts hundreds of visitors each day for a tour that starts at the venerable souvenir store across from the ballpark’s entrance.
“This is you’re official welcome, you’re at the home of the Boston Red Sox!” shouts Ed Carpenter, our guide, who has been coming to Fenway Park for six decades and decided to become a tour guide six years ago.
With the Boston skyline as its elegant backdrop, cramped but classic, the country’s oldest ballpark turned 99 in April.
“We moved here in April 1912, we played our very first game here against a team called the New York Highlanders,” Carpenter tells our group.
Character fills every cockeyed corner of Fenway.
“There’s something special about this place. It’s not a cookie-cutter facility,” says Carpenter, a longtime sports information director at nearby Boston University. “It has a charm. Part of the reason it has the unusual dimensions is because of where we are built, right in the middle of the city. There are five streets around us.”
We tour the right-field roof deck and the pressbox, then make our way to the iconic Green Monster.
“We like to say it goes with the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall,” says Carpenter.
Dwight Nelson, visiting from Holbrooke, Mass., says, “You know there’s a lot of history here and the ballpark looks nice. It’s been cleaned up, it really looks good.”
For the scores of fans who hope to keep Fenway on the hallowed marshland where it has sat for nearly a century, next year the ballpark becomes eligible for designation as a historic landmark, which means the games here could play on forever.
“This place comes alive when you walk through here, it’s not just the seats, it’s the stories,” says Carpenter. “This is living history, it’s not just a building, and it’s part of the fabric not only of Boston, it’s the fabric of baseball.”
The Fenway Park Tour runs daily from the Team Store on Yawkey Way. Tours last just under an hour. Adults are $12, seniors $11, kids (3 to 15) $10. For more information, visit http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp or call 617-226-6666