Fenway.

The word conjures up countless images: The Green Monster. Pesky’s Pole. The red seat. Franks. Painful leg cramps.

Maybe you heard, Fenway Park turns 100 this year. Then again, maybe all of the Titanic talk has been too distracting. And I don’t mean the 2012 Red Sox.

The celebrations and vignettes on NESN and the national outlets already feel like commercial breaks during a soap opera called “Bobby’s Hope.” Friday’s big reunion provided only a momentary diversion, as the Yankees bombed Clay Buchholz quicker than Pedro Martinez can say “Karim Garcia.”

Only at Fenway.

Fenway has seen plenty of Red Sox pitchers get bludgeoned in a century. It’s seen a lot of other ignominious moments, too, moments that we won’t be seeing recalled wistfully on NESN this year.

Fenway was where an unknown team executive yelled racial epithets for Jackie Robinson and two other black players to get off the field during a sham tryout.

Fenway was where Buddy LeRoux tried to stage a coup of Red Sox ownership on Tony Conigliaro Night.

Fenway was where much of “Fever Pitch” was filmed.

Oh well. Can’t change the past. But the present isn’t all the folks fawning over Fenway this year would have you believe.

Fenway is where anyone over 5-foot-9 has to wear knee pads so they don’t break their kneecaps on the seat-back in front of them.

It’s where anyone over 200 pounds and/or sitting between sections 4 and 13 has their chiropractor on speed dial.

It’s where on a clear day you still need to wear a rain coat because, inevitably, someone in your row or the row behind you will bump into someone else and spill their drink.

It’s where the ticket buyer pays $60 for a seat with the knowledge that there’s more than a slight chance they will be staring at a steel beam for nine innings.

Boston needs a new ballpark and has for some time. Ownership has made admirable efforts to improve the fan experience. Diehards will argue they’ve gone too far, turning a baseball park into a carnival attraction.

No one can argue that few, if any, of the improvements have made it more pleasurable to sit and watch a baseball game. Sorry, everyone singing along to a creepy Neil Diamond song about an 11-year-old Caroline Kennedy doesn’t add to that experience.

Fans accept the inconveniences because Fenway is a relic. Fenway is a study in the power of nostalgia. It is also a place that still binds generations that are usually being pulled apart in a rapidly changing world.

Everyone has a story about their first time at a ballpark. Everyone has a story about the first time they took their child to a ballpark. There is only one park where I take my son to his first Red Sox game the day after Ted Williams died, show him the red seat and the “9” cut into the grass in left field and tell him about his grandfather’s first game at Fenway Park, when Williams chatted him up in the on deck circle and made my wonder why everyone was making a fuss over the guy wearing No. 9.

Only at Fenway.

Few structures, forget ballparks and stadiums, can tie the generations together like Fenway can. It is like a home that stays in the same family for a century.

The home has added a couple of decks, a new kitchen and a lot of paint. But its hallways are still too narrow, its furniture is still extremely uncomfortable, the roof still leaks and its bathroom is an outhouse. Not to mention all of the guests hate the accommodations and can’t wait to get out of there.

It won’t happen under the current ownership, but hopefully the next owners will let Fenway die with dignity. Turn Fenway into a museum. Play college and high school and exhibition games there. Build a new park with all of its field dimensions, the wall and the nooks and crannies.

Our children and grandchildren will thank you for it.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.