“Fenway Park: 100 Years as the Heart of Red Sox Nation” opens with Dick Flavin reciting his poem “Long Live Fenway Park “ accompanied by footage of each player he mentions. Here I am, quite disheartened by the 2012 Red Sox season and not even wanting to watch this DVD right now and I’m sobbing. Every time I think the Red Sox have lost a piece of my heart, something like this DVD comes around to mock me because the baseball gods know I can never let my team go.
When I was approached so graciously by Suzanne, a representative of A+E Network Home Entertainment/MLB Productions, I was almost tempted to say, “Thank you, but no” for many reasons. The strongest being at this point I really thought anything reminding me of how great the Red Sox have been might just depress me. But the tears I cried during Dick Flavin’s poem weren’t tears of sadness, they were tears of joy, because of how much joy this team brings me – even when they’re inflicting pain. I’m very glad I decided to say “yes” to the offer to watch the DVD and comment on it. And I’ll probably spend a lot of the off-season watching the DVD.
The DVD goes over the history of the park, the area and the players who played there. It was bittersweet to see Johnny Pesky as one of the people being interviewed, but there is also a wonderful sense of how great it is that his memories are recorded permanently for all of us to enjoy.
The 90-minute documentary feels like an extended version of the Fenway Park tour with a lot more accurate information. Here we learn about organist John Kiley and public address announcer Sherm Feller and if you had the same upbringing as I did, those names bring back tremendous memories. They also detail each of the improvements that have been made to the park over the years. So as much as they DO focus on special baseball events that took place there they really do give you a good history of the park.
It occurred to me while watching that younger fans, especially fans who might not be so young in age but who only became fans in 2003 or 2004, would really gain a lot from watching this DVD. There are definitely some fans who could use the reminder that being a Red Sox fan is well worth the occasional pain. While reliving the 2000s will always be fun, it’s well worth taking the time to watch the 1967 season unfold.
Speaking of the ’67 team, I have to say that I really got a kick out of the crowd shots during the ’67 World Series…lots of women in the stands cheering and even NUNS!
Watching the clips from the 1975 World Series reminded me not only of how much everyone loves that team but I chuckled thinking about Joe Morgan having a fit because he thinks there are people out there who think the Red Sox won that series (I like Carlton Fisk’s comment that he tells people that “The Red Sox won that series, three games to four.”) Also, any opportunity I get to see Fred Lynn play again I will take in a heartbeat.
It was odd that they spent some time discussing 1986 and then skipped over the entire World Series. Then again, the most iconic moment of that series DID happen at Shea Stadium not at Fenway Park.
The tears started again when they showed the pre-game ceremony at the 1999 All Star Game when Ted Williams entered the park. There is an awful lot of emotional footage in this DVD and it’s really what I needed this season.
As much as I liked going through the ENTIRE history, there is no denying that my favorite part of the DVD is the section that focuses on Pedro Martinez. There needs to be an entire DVD dedicated to Pedro but, for now, I’ll take what I can get and the footage here of Pedro is outstanding.
There’s a point near the end of the DVD when we hear Carl Beane reciting the monologue from “Field of Dreams” and then announcing some of the team’s most iconic players. Yes there were more tears, but mostly I just was pleased that they honored him in such a way.
As an extra on the DVD you get NESN’s coverage of the 100th Anniversary celebration when they brought all the players out on the field. This is where the DVD loses points. The day of the ceremony, NESN didn’t tell us who the players were as they came out. Then, a month or so after the ceremony, they did show a version where each player walking out had their name show up on the screen so you knew who you were looking at. That isn’t the version on the DVD so, as folks watching at home had to do when it was shown live, you watch the ceremony saying, “Who is that? Is that Dick Drago?” The omission of the players’ names is a bit of a disappointment but if something on the ‘extras’ is the only place I can really complain about, I think the producers of the DVD did all right. (Also, I hate the fact that they play the music over the players coming out instead of letting you hear the reaction of the fans. The music really did add to the moment but so did the fans.) Regardless, it’s an amazing event to have captured for posterity.
I’ll fess up…I’m completely biased here. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would NOT like this DVD because as hokey as it sounds, Fenway is my home away from home. Sadly, I haven’t been there as much as I would like over the last couple of years but it is still one place I can go where I feel like it’s mine. I love Fenway Park and this video gives me something to remind me of that over this upcoming LONG off-season.
So now that I have sold you on the DVD, how would you like one for free? There are two copies of “Fenway Park: 100 Years as the Heart of Red Sox Nation” that the folks at A+E Network Home Entertainment/MLB Productions have so generously offered up as a giveaway. In the past, I’ve made my contests a bit more difficult than was probably fair so this one will be easier. I want to know what your favorite Fenway memory is. You didn’t have to be there in person to witness it; as long as you saw it somehow it’s valid. Leave your story in the comments section below this entry (I’ll also be promoting this on Toeing the Rubber’s Facebook page and you can leave the story there if you like) and two winners will be randomly chosen to win a copy of the DVD. I promise you, it’s more than worth the time it’ll take you to share your story!
(The contest ends at 5pm on Monday, September 24th and you can enter as many times as you’d like! If you’ve won a contest here before you are still eligible to win.)