It was not an ordinary day in an ordinary world.
Friday was a day in celebration of playing the game in Fenway for 100 years.
The capacity crowd which has gathered for each and every game during the past nine years was on their feet, applauding for nearly one half hour before the game began as most of the living members of the Boston Red Sox came out onto the field and gathered at their position for this day of days. The names that filled your scorecards for so many years came out with their jersey’s on for one last cheer of Boston melancholy. This day, this Friday in Beantown would be like few others before it.
The larger than life heroes of the past were there. It began with Jim Rice taking his place out in left field. There was Billy Buckner waving like nothing ever happened in his career. Nomar was greeted as warmly as one could possibly be welcomed. There was Martinez, Conigliaro…players from all eras basking in this beautiful spring day among friends, many they never knew. Even Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green came out as humbly as he entered decades ago twelve years after Jackie broke the barrier.
As they came out onto the field they must have felt like the kids of spring once again, remembering the pain and suffering, the doubts, anxiety and analysis that they faced as they tried to make the club, in order to be able to pull on their first legendary Red Sox uniform. Not so for the big stars. All they could remember were the great times past. Pudge came out of the dugout and moved to his historic position behind the plate, while all in the crowd was remembering his jumping jesters out of the batter’s box down the first base line on that legendary night game of a World Series so long ago, pleading with the ball to stay fair and not go foul to beat the mighty Reds. That was a moment when legends are made. And they were made right here, at 4 Yawkey Way.
Then there was Yaz.
Coming out of the dugout and moving onto the field, being stopped by nearly every player gathered on the diamond with shakes of the hand, hugging, pats on the back. The hero was in their presence once again. All must be good because Yaz is back on the field. They have a chance to win again.
This day, a Natural moment even Redford would have loved to be part of, simply was for all of the fathers, their fathers and sons, mothers and daughters to emotionally luxuriate with joy. Nearly all of the living legends of the Red Sox were joined on the field by the players of today, decked out in uniforms of the team that inaugurated this legendary ballpark a century before. In their all white uniforms, they fit into this gathering like long-lost brothers of wars past.
Then the hero of today, David Ortiz, escorted on either side of him the most famous shortstop and second baseman in this franchise’s history, Johnny Peskey and Bobby Doeer, in wheelchairs to their position at the keystone. Randy Newman and Barry Levinson would be proud.
It was the best that baseball can give a fan, the heroes of the game gathered, as in the visitors dugout where a few legends wearing the Highlander-Yankee uniform were watching their moment in the future. This is what the game is all about. This is why the game is played. It’s not to win or lose. It’s about when you played the game be it on the legendary fields like Fenway or the sandlot a couple of blocks from your home in Beloit. It is the sheer joy of feeling the excitement of picking up that ball and tossing it to your best friend; lifting the bat and glove and carrying them back home with a smile on your face that this was a day when all was right with the world. The heroes had gathered again.