The first game ever played at Fenway Park took place on April 9, 1912. In an exhibition contest played in the cold and the snow, Crimson third baseman and captain Dana Wingate became the first batter in the Boston ballpark, being struck out on a fastball by Casey Hageman. 3,000 fans braved the wintery weather to watch the shortened contest.
Just one month until Opening Day. Who else is excited?
Why? Why should the bond between a people and their baseball team be so intense? Fenway Park is a part of it, offering a physical continuum to the bond, not only because Papi can stand in the same batter’s box as Teddy Ballgame, but also because a son might sit in the same wooden-slat seat as his father.
As I grew up, I knew that as a building (Fenway Park) was on the level of Mount Olympus, the Pyramid at Giza, the nation’s capitol, the czar’s Winter Palace, and the Louvre — except, of course, that is better than all those inconsequential places.
~ Bart Giamatti
It’s been nearly two years since I first wrote about Pat Venditte, who at the time was a switch-pitcher in the Yankees organization. Last night, Venditte made his Major League debut with the Oakland A’s, as they faced the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
How did he do? The first full-time switch-pitcher of the modern era threw two scoreless innings, beginning the seventh pitching with his left arm to get Brock Holt to ground out, then coaxing a double-play ball out of Mike Napoli throwing with his right. He only faced three in the eighth inning, though switch-hitter Blake Swihart did give him a momentary crisis of “which side should I pitch from?”
That’s not a bad conundrum to have, in the grand scheme of things. To be a young pitcher making history in this manner, and having the opportunity to do it at Fenway? Can’t complain about that!
Baseball returned to Boston yesterday.
In the wake of last Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, the match up between the Red Sox and the Royals is another step in the return to normalcy for the city. Just watching the game on television, it wasn’t hard to get a feel for the intensely emotional atmosphere. Pre-game festivities included a slideshow of the events of the week, moments of silence and remembering, and a nod to the events in west Texas and China. The announcer’s declaration, “We will run another marathon,” brought cheers of agreement. Special guests to the game included Boston Marathon volunteers, law enforcement, Mayor Thomas Menino, and other political and public safety leaders of the area. And I don’t know about you, but I found the singing of the national anthem by the crowd to be particularly moving.
Then, of course, there was David Ortiz’s brief address:
It wasn’t just the Boston crowd that was touched by the ceremony. The Kansas City club, which wore the “B Strong” patches on their uniforms in support for the city, was also moved by the display. “It was special, it was cool,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “I almost started crying at some of the points, so it was a special moment and we were happy to be a part of it.”
In addition to recovery from the events of the past week, yesterday also marked the 101st anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park. The Red Sox capped the days festivities with a 4-3 victory for the day, as starting pitcher Clay Buchholz went eight innings and improved his record to 4-0.