2017-05-18 / Sports

BASEBALL’S BEST

Excitement builds when visiting Fenway
By LAMAR GARRARD
baseball historian

“Fenway is the essence of baseball” – Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame Pitcher

Being a student of baseball history with a love for the game of the “Golden Era of Baseball” – 40s, 50s, and 60s – I have always wanted to go to a game at Fenway Park in Boston. It is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues with origins in 1912 and has been home to such baseball icons as George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, and Lefty Grove. And even though we could never include all the greats of the Red Sox, we must mention Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Wade Boggs, Curt Schilling, and former Augusta pitcher Tim Wakefield. A pretty fair pitcher named Cy Young won 32 games one year for the Bostonians and tallied 511 wins in his career which is a major league record.

At the gracious invitation of friends Joel and Amy Nichols in Carlisle, Massachusetts, my son Brent and I attended the Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays last Fri- day night. Boston lost the game 5-4 but that did not deter the enthusiasm of the almost sellout crowd of 36,496 fans who also did not seem to mind the 50-degree temperature. Although chilly for this Southern boy, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world as the lyrics go to the old Ronnie Mils ap hi t of 1981. Alex Cobb, the Rays’ starting pitcher got credit for the win and crafted a masterful six innings by holding Boston to four hits before his relief entered the game.

Brent, Joel, and I took the Fenway Stadium tour before the game and that was a delightful experience. I sat on the famous left field wall, “The Green Monster,” which stands 37 feet high. The view from the “Monstah” as it is known is spectacular. Since it’s only 310 feet from home plate, a fan sitting there has a unique view of the park and the stadium. The scoreboard, of course, is manually operated and one different feature is that the initials of former owners Tom and Jean Yawkey are inscribed in Morse code and very hard to see. It is said that Mr. Yawkey did not like a lot of attention drawn to himself so rather than his regular initials being displayed he chose to have them somewhat subdued by using the Morse.

Tom Yawkey was the well respected former owner and was loved and respected very much in Boston and in all of baseball. His Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center in South Carolina in the Georgetown area is considered a wildlife treasure. It consists of 31 square miles of marsh, wetlands, forest, and beach areas. It is under the control of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

When our party of three entered the stadium for the game, excitement had been building up for me all day. I was greeted warmly by Eric Eisenberg, Inside Sales Representative of the Red Sox and he and I had a nice chat. I told Eric that I was from the Augusta, Georgia, area and that we had sent many players to Boston. One of those former Greenjackets, Dustin Pedroia, played in the game last Friday Night. More on Fenway next week ...

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