According to the 2009 United States Census Bureau, the city of Boston has a population of 645,169 people, which means there’s a high probability of there being someone with a birthday each day of the week. Perhaps the city’s most celebrated and important birthday, though, happened just last Friday.
It wasn’t a person’s birthday, either. It was the day Fenway Park turned 100 years old.
Even with the New England Patriots reaching the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 10 seasons last year and the Boston Bruins and Celtics both winning Lord Stanley’s Cup and the NBA Championship just recently, the Red Sox and their ballpark have a hold on this city that not many teams (including the aforementioned three) can say they have.
There’s a reason that Fergus Colm (AKA the Florist) called Fenway the “Cathedral of Boston” in The Town—because that’s exactly what it is. When you walk through the Boston Common, the downtown or any other area of the city, you’ll see more Red Sox ball caps than you will any other team, Boston-based or otherwise.
When Fenway opened up for the 2012 MLB season last week, NFL Network reporter and Massachusetts-born Albert Breer tweeted “It’s days like today when it’s so abundantly clear the Sox are still easily number one in Boston.”
Glenn Stout, the author of Fenway 1912 – The Birth Of A Ballpark, A Championship Season and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year, recently told WBUR that “Even though [the ballpark] is 100 years old today, it still seems to fit into the fabric of the city.”
To some degree, what Stout said about Fenway rings true to every city with a stadium that’s been around for some time, but there’s something about Boston’s cathedral that sets it apart from any other not named Wrigley Field.
Age does have a role in this fact, because the stadium and the franchise that calls it home have been with the city through tough times like the Great Depression, or the 86 years between the Red Sox's 1918 and 2004 World Series championships (which led to plenty of depression for many fans).
It has also served as the home to the then-American Football League Boston Patriots, the Beanpot Classic hockey tournament and the third annual NHL Winter Classic between the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
The reason several franchises and prestigious tournaments and games have looked to Fenway is because they realize that there’s something about the park that makes Bostonians want to spend time within its friendly confines and enjoy almost any sporting or musical spectacle.
Even Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Luke Scott, who told ESPN Boston he thinks the ballpark is “a dump,” mentioned in the same interview that Fenway does have a “great feel and nostalgia”—which I think is certainly apart of the allure of the stadium.
The fact that Red Sox fans in the year 2012 can sit in the same seats as fans from yesteryear watched Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Babe Ruth in is something special. Even if you’re visiting the park rooting for the opposing team, you can still take in the mystique of the park knowing that some of the best Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox stepped onto the grass at Fenway as well.
No matter how good or bad the ‘Sox may be doing in a given season, fans still flock to Fenway Park to enjoy America’s pastime because the stadium is a living, working symbol for the city of Boston.