03/20/12 5:10 PM ET
Fenway Park still endures after 100 years
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
Its freakishly tall left-field wall, its obscurely shaped center-field area and its limited foul territory down each line, where the fans practically sit on the outfield, have all supplied Fenway Park with plenty of character. Quirky construction aside, the history soaked up in 100 years of games in the ballpark demonstrates how the venue has remained a staple of Major League Baseball for an entire century.
In honor of the park's historic 100-year anniversary, PBS will air a film, "Inside Fenway Park: An Icon At 100," which documents the centennial of America's oldest ballpark, on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.
"It's more than a ballpark," the film's narrator, Matt Damon, says in the trailer. "It's a touchstone to our past and a cornerstone to the city. It's a building, an icon, an idea known as Fenway Park."
Using a Yankees-Red Sox game as a thread, the feature will chronicle Fenway's history as a host for sports and other iconic events, such as masses for World War I soldiers, a 1922 Irish Republican rally, Franklin Roosevelt's last presidential campaign speech and countless concerts.
The one-hour National Geographic special will incorporate interviews with columnist Mike Barnicle, author Glenn Stout, commentator Dick Flavin and ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant, in addition to archived footage and photos.
"You can walk to the ballpark. That's a huge thing," said Barnicle, who wrote columns for the Boston Globe for more than two decades. "And you can sense it beckoning you: 'Come on, come on. You're getting closer. Come on in. You're always welcome.'"
Despite its elder status among the nation's stadiums, Fenway has maintained its appeal by appearing in peak condition.
"There's this beautiful, green, pristine place that's unlike anything you've ever seen, that's unlike anything that's around it in the city," said Stout, who wrote the book "Red Sox Century: The Definitive History of Baseball's Most Storied Franchise." "It's not even like your backyard. Dad's grass was never that nice."
Despite several attempts over the years to knock down Fenway and construct a new home for the Red Sox, the original edifice has persevered.
As the Sox prepare to play their 100th season in their friendly confines, their fans will build on their record 712-game sellout streak.
"Boston doesn't just have any ballpark," Damon says during the film. "It has the ballpark that every other Major League city wishes it had."
After its premiere on Monday, the special will re-air on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.
For more highlights of the ballpark's centennial anniversary, check MLB.com's Fenway Park 100 site.