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23 2012

Celebrating 100 Years of Fenway Park: Part II

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

Last Friday, on the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, I posted this history of America's most beloved ball park.  Larry and Steve Paikin, on their first trip to Fenway Park, July 1978.  We continue the celebration of Fenway's 100th today by pulling out some of my old scrap books. My love for this ball park goes back three-and-a-half decades. When I graduated from high school, my father offered to take me on a road trip. Without a second's hesitation, I said: "Let's go to Fenway Park."   Sox catcher Carlton Fisk returns to the dugout. He and Yankees' catcher Thurman Munson were great rivals.  And so we did. It was July 1978. The Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles. What kind of team did the Sox have that year? Unstoppable, or so I thought. Every single player in the starting nine was hitting over .300, and when we left Boston, the Sox had a 14-game lead over the second place (hated) New York Yankees. Pitcher Luis Tiant and centre fielder Fred Lynn coming off the field. Lynn was sensational, winning MVP and Rookie of the Year in his first season in the majors in 1975. We felt confident the Sox were well on their way to ending The Curse of the Bambino, the excuse New Englanders gave to explain why the team had come oh so close but had never won a championship since they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, after winning the World Series in 1918. We bumped into the Orioles at our hotel, here with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer ... ... and again with another Hall of Famer, first baseman Eddie Murray.  A return trip to Fenway Park in the mid-1980s.  Baseball fans will remember 1978 as the year the Sox collapsed, the Yanks found their mojo, and both teams were tied after 162 games. A 163rd sudden death playoff game was played at Fenway Park to see who would go on to post-season play. In that game, "Bucky F-----g Dent" (as he's now referred to by Red Sox Nation) hit an improbable homer over the Green Monster to give the Yanks the win. Standing outside the stadium beside the statue of Ted Williams, my favourite player ever. I'm wearing his #9 jersey, and named one of my kids "Teddy" after him.  It was a good lesson for yours truly that much more suffering would be required before we Sox fans could celebrate a championship. That happened in 2004 --- the club's first in 86 years --- and again in 2007.  The most popular Red Sox player today: designated hitter "Big Papi" David Ortiz. With my son Henry, the third generation of Paikin Red Sox fans, in the summer of 2007. My most recent trip to Fenway: June 2010, celebrating my 50th birthday with my mom Marnie. We saw Daniel Nava hit a grand slam homer on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors. That had only happened once before in Major League history.  Red Sox Captain, catcher Jason Varitek, who has caught four no-hitters during his career. No one else has ever done that.  Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, on whom the Sox spent $50 million just so he'd leave Japan. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, another of the Sox most popular (and best) players. Can there possibly be a more beautiful place to watch baseball than 100-year-old Fenway Park? I say no.  Follow !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

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