This past Friday, Fenway Park celebrated its 100th birthday with huge fanfare.
Leading up to the big birthday event, Red Sox management did a wonderful job engaging fans, young and old, by creating special opportunities and events for those that did not have the chance to go to the celebration. With the help of Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox kicked off the week by releasing 100 green balloons in various Boston neighborhoods with tickets to upcoming Red Sox games inside. Five of those balloons had tickets to the April 20th celebration. If you weren’t a lucky balloon winner (let’s be real – you had a better chance of winning the PowerBall a couple of weeks ago) and did not have tickets to the game, Fenway Park was opened to the public on the 19th. Fans visited parts of the ballpark generally inaccessible to them and had the chance to meet Red Sox legends, as well as view historical artifacts, photographs and banners.
I was one of the lucky fans that participated in America’s Most Beloved Ballpark’s birthday celebration, and let me tell you it did not disappoint. The energy at the ballpark was amazing! Fans were encouraged to be in their seats by 2:00 p.m. to be able to enjoy all of the festivities. Upon entering the gate each fan received a commemorative ticket on a lanyard for the game and at each seat was a can of grape juice for a toast.
At exactly 2:15 p.m.the Boston Pops began to play, and past players began entering the field one at a time, walking to the field position they played while on the team. It was an amazing feeling, standing there and watching players that I have admired through the years walk back onto the field one more time. From Jim Rice to Carl Yastrzemski to Mo Vaughn, Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez, the crowd provided a standing ovation throughout the whole ceremony. The last players on the field were Fenway’s beloved Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr who were taken out to second base in wheelchairs by the recently retired stars Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, and fan favorite David Ortiz. The whole ceremony had a Field of Dreams feel to it and made me feel proud to be part of Red Sox nation
What I found to be really neat about the whole ceremony was the history intertwined into the whole event. We learned that in 1912 the first pitch was not thrown out at home plate, but from the front row seats near home plate. For the birthday celebration, three ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Caroline Kennedy, the great-granddaughter of John F. Fitzgerald known as Honey Fitz, who threw out the first pitch on opening day in 1912; Thomas Fitzgerald, grandson of Honey Fitz; and Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The event concluded with a toast, like they did to inaugurate the park in 1912, by Fenway’s favorites Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez who toasted the past 100 years and the next 100 years. The Red Sox are hoping to break the Guinness Book of World Records with the toast.
While the Red Sox did not bring home a win on the field that day, the Red Sox management sure did! They provided an experience that no fan will ever forget or get to experience again in their lifetime.
Here’s to another 100 Fenway Park!