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Faithful to Fenway

Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark

Michael Ian Borer
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 288
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    Faithful to Fenway
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    The Green Monster. Pesky's Pole. The Lone Red Seat. Yawkey Way. To baseball fans this list of bizarre phrases evokes only one place: Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is Americas oldest major league ballpark still in use. InFaithful to Fenway, Michael Ian Borer takes us out to Fenway where we sit in cramped wooden seats (often with obstructed views of the playing field), where there is a hand-operated scoreboard and an average attendance of 20,000 fewer fans than most stadiums, and where every game has been sold out since May of 2003. There is no Hard Rock Café (like Toronto's Skydome), no swimming pool (like Arizona's Chase Field), and definitely no sushi (which has become a fan favorite from Baltimore to Seattle). As Borer tells us in this captivating book, Fenway is short on comfort but long on character.

    Faithful to Fenwayinvestigates the mystique of the ballpark. Borer, who lived in Boston before and after the Red Sox historic 2004 World Series win, draws on interviews with Red Sox players, including Jason Varitek and Carl Yastrzemski, management, including Larry Lucchino and John Henry, groundskeepers, vendors, and scores of fans to uncover what the park means for Boston and the people who revere it. Borer argues that Fenway is nothing less than a national icon, more than worthy of the banner outside the stadium that proclaims, "America's Most Beloved Ballpark". Certainly as one of New England's greatest landmarks, Fenway captures the hearts and imaginations of a deferential and devoted public. There are T-shirts, bumper stickers, banners, and snow globes that honor the ballpark. Fenway shows up in popular films, novels, television commercials, and in replicated form in people's backyards-and coming in 2008 to Quincy, Massachusetts, is Mini-Fenway Park, a replica stadium built especially for kids.

    Full of legendary stories, amusing anecdotes, and the shared triumph and tragedy of the Red Sox and their fans,Faithful to Fenwayoffers a fresh and insightful perspective, offering readers an unforgettable pilgrimage to the mecca of baseball.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-8993-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION The Sociology of Green Monsters and Broken Curses
    (pp. 1-12)

    Even though my apartment was only a five-minute walk to the T and then a fifteen-minute ride to Fenway Park, we decided to jump in my car and drive down Beacon Street. We had to be prepared for what we might encounter in the next twenty minutes and didn’t want to get stuck in the crowd that we knew would flood Kenmore Square. When we turned off the television and left my apartment, it was the top of the eighth inning and the Red Sox were leading the St. Louis Cardinals three to nothing in the fourth and what proved...

  5. 1 BOSTON BELIEVES Fenway Park, a “Lyrical Little Bandbox”
    (pp. 13-32)

    Fenway Park is short on comfort but long on character. It lacks the amenities of many of the newer sports stadiums. There is no Hard Rock Café (as at Toronto’s Skydome), no swimming pool (as at Arizona’s Chase Field), and definitely no sushi (which has become a fan favorite from Seattle to Baltimore). All Fenway Park has are cramped seats, poles that obstruct spectators’ view of the game, a daunting big green wall in left field, a hand-operated scoreboard, and a slew of devoted patrons, pilgrims, and parishioners. It is an old-fashioned ballpark in an old-fashioned city. As theBoston...

  6. 2 THE BIRTH OF AN URBAN BALLPARK Leisure, Nostalgia, and the Baseball Creed
    (pp. 33-66)

    Like many of those fortunate enough to get their hands on a ticket to the see the Red Sox host the Yankees for the fifth game of the 2003 American League Championship Series, I was pacing back and forth on the concourse just above the single-level infield grandstand on the third-base side. Like some, I was able to sneak my ticket stub in front of Billy Crystal for his autograph. A renowned Yankee fan who had made the trip north to find himself in one of Fenway Park’s not-so-cozy box seats, Crystal’s celebrity status seemed to trump his baseball allegiance....

  7. 3 THE BALLPARK AT REST The Civic Partnership between Boston, the Red Sox, and the Fenway Faithful
    (pp. 67-106)

    Between April and September, the Red Sox play eighty-one games at Fenway Park. Even though baseball games usually last around three hours, Red Sox games are more like full-day events, perhaps more so for the organization than for the fans. Consider the amount of time needed for pre- and postgame warm-ups, cool-downs, preparation, and cleaning. For night games, the players are in their uniforms at 4:00 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. start. The field and stands must be in pristine condition before any player takes the field for batting practice or any fan finds his or her seat. After the...

  8. 4 OBJECTS OF FAITH AND CONSUMPTION Souvenirs, Replicas, and Other Representations of Fenway Park
    (pp. 107-132)

    The day after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, fans flocked to the ballpark to buy mementos to celebrate an achievement many of them had anticipated since they were children, when they didn’t know any better, never imagining they would have to wait so long. Like religious affiliations, many people inherit their sports fandom from their parents. And although some people do switch, convert, or change religions, most do not. The same can be said about sports allegiances. As such, fans often celebrate a team’s achievement as their own, as well as suffer from losses, sometimes in...

  9. 5 SOME DIAMONDS ARE NOT FOREVER Debating the Future of Fenway Park
    (pp. 133-178)

    March 23, 2005, would have been just like any other day in Boston if Fenway Park didn’t exist. More to the point, it was a significant day in BostonbecauseFenway Park exists. Despite a number of attempts to knock it down, Fenway remains standing as the oldest active ballpark in Major League Baseball. And on that fateful day in the spring of 2005, a few weeks before the Red Sox would take the field at Fenway as World Series Champions, the Red Sox made the announcement that many people, though not all, were happy to hear. Under the previous...

  10. 6 BELIEVE IN BOSTON Red Sox Nation and the Cultural Power of Place
    (pp. 179-196)

    After following the Fenway faithful into and around Boston’s ol’ ball-park, it is easy to see why baseball was promoted by social reformers, politicians, journalists, and ticket holders as a national communitarian pastime in the cities where it emerged, grew, and flourished. Baseball’s distinctive style of play that in one sense is confining (runners cannot run outside the lines) and in another sense is free flowing (there is no time limit), embodies the paradoxes of yesterday’s and today’s urban culture. The distinctive iconography and playing grounds of urban ballparks became and remain fertile placesofandforreverence, devotion, and...

  11. APPENDIX Making the Familiar Strange Urban Sociology at the Ballpark
    (pp. 197-214)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 215-244)
    (pp. 245-256)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 257-262)
    (pp. 263-264)