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April 21. 2012 10:46PM

Fenway Park: A ticket to America's past

On Friday, Fenway Park celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the Red Sox and Yankees played in replica 1912 uniforms. It was a day in which fans could relive the past. In other words, it was little different from any other day at Fenway Park.

When the park opened on April 20, 1912, it was one day after the 136th anniversary of Lexington and Concord. Ralph Farnham, a Mainer who was a soldier at the time of Lexington and Concord and who fought at Saratoga, visited Boston in 1860, invited by several Boston dignitaries. One of them, Edward Everett, would be the primary speaker at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery three years later (Lincoln spoke after him).

While in Boston, Farnham probably saw young men playing the game of baseball. The playing on public property had become such a nuisance that two years later the city banned it in the Public Garden. Any of the children Farnham might have seen that day could have attended the first Opening Day at Fenway 52 years later. Any who did would have seen the first pitch thrown out by John Fitzgerald, mayor and huge Red Sox fan. Only 34 years later, hisgrandson would attend a game there and meet Ted Williams. Fourteen years after that, that grandson would be elected President of the United States.

To attend a game at Fenway Park is to make a spiritual connection with a century of America’s pastime. But there is more to the experience than sensing the ghosts of Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker and Cy Young.

Fenway Park makes a physical connection to all of American history. Civil War veterans attended games there (Charles Taylor, the Red Sox owner who ordered Fenway built, was one). Some of them would have directly encountered pioneers who left to settle the West, veterans who fought in the War of 1812, and others, like Ralph Farnham, who could remember the days before there was such a thing as the United States of America.

Fenway Park carries in it all of that history.

Also, it’s a pretty great place to watch a ballgame, and to make new memories that will last another 100 years. Just mind the ghosts.


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