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Field of Dreams

by Gil Matos

The City of Boston is well known for its rich history and tradition. From the pilgrims, to the witch trials, to the battle sites of the Revolutionary War, the city offers an eclectic mix of our nation's past. Without a doubt, my favorite place in this great city is also surprising to many, the site of the number one tourist attraction in New England.

Fenway Park, the "lyric little bandbox of a ball park" on Yawkey Way, draws over two million people through its hallowed doors every year. Every year people flock to this sacred baseball temple to catch a glimpse of the folkloric park, and to cheer on their beloved Red Sox. To me there are very few things that can match the excitement, the environment, and the nostalgia that the park has to offer.

Fenway Park This past year I had the privilege of living two blocks from the park. Like any passionate red-blooded Red Sox fan, I made it my mission to watch as many games as I could. I don't know where to even begin to explain the atmosphere surrounding the park before a big game. You can feel the electricity in the air blocks away from the park. I would walk to the games, and it was a sight to see. Flocks of Red Sox fans wearing their team's colors. Proud and passionate fans, who know that the difference between a "great summer" and a "good summer" can be determined by where the Sox are in the standings. Chatter can be heard in the groups of people, anything from trade speculations and clubhouse rumors, to what is going on with the hated New York Yankees. And God forbid if you are a New York college kid, or anyone from age 14-60 sporting a Yankee cap. The intertwined NY is enough to throw any rabid Sox fan into a frenzy. Chants of "Yankees suck" can be heard throughout Kenmore Square and Yawkey way, regardless of whether or not the Yankees are in first place, or even in town that day.

When you head onto Yawkey Way you feel as though you have been transported back to a time when baseball was more than just a bunch of teams providing a revolving door to multi-millionaires. You feel like you are in an another era. "Peanuts, get your peanuts here", "Ice cold tonic here", "Programs! Get your programs here!" can all be heard up and down Yawkey. The aroma of peanuts, hot dogs, and sausages dominate the atmosphere like popcorn in a movie theater. Swarms of people walk up and down the street looking for ticket scalpers, just hoping to catch the game inside.

The weather-worn facade of the park adds to its appeal and charm. It is inscribed with an antiquated "FENWAY PARK 1912". What makes Fenway unique from other ballparks or stadiums is that it was built right in the Kenmore neighborhood. The ballpark gives off the aura and charm of your neighborhood sandlot, or stickball parking lot. When you enter the park it has a familiar musty smell that can be compared to an old town municipal building. But to me, it smells like baseball. The ushers who collect the tickets are all over 60 years old. You can feel their pain and can hear their thoughts: "Will I live to see the Red Sox win the World Series?"

I have walked into the seating area of the park hundreds of times. But every time I walk in, I am overwhelmed by beautiful green upon green landscape of the park. My heart beats a little faster and I look around at the Green Monster in left field, the screen above it, the Citgo sign rising over Kenmore Square, the retired numbers in right field 1, 4, 8, 9, 27, 42, and the lone red seat in right field, representing the spot where Ted Williams' home run landed.

I sit in my seat and continue to enjoy the prestigious baseball environment. I always make a point to look for the children who are here for the first time. It always brings me back to the first time I saw this glorious baseball cathedral. The wide-eyed looks in their eyes, their programs rolled up tightly with anticipation. The extra beat in their step, and their little necks popping up, hoping to catch a glimpse of Pedro or Nomar, spark up a wave of nostalgia that cannot be described.

To me, what really gets me is the feeling that you get from standing in the park. It's the memories, and the history. You get a great sense of the players who have played here over the years. You swear that if you squint hard enough, you can see Teddy Ballgame hitting, the intimidating Bob Gibson pitching to Yaz in the '67 series, or Carlton Fisk waving his arms frantically coaxing the ball to stay fair in the '75 series.

Baseball is a game in which history feels alive. There is no place better to feel a part of that history than Fenway Park. Although it was built during a time where the average height was about 5'6", and the seats are cramped, the bathrooms a biohazard, and the beer lines can be compared to Disney. There is no sight like Fenway Park on a bright warm summer day. A day where the green sticks out, and the city overlooks the cozy little ball park that has helped shaped its landscape. There is nothing like watching a game in the most beloved, revered, and historic ballpark in America.

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Copyright © Gil Matos. Printed with permission of the author.