BOSTON — Mike Barnicle, an award-winning columnist who was featured in Ken Burn's special Baseball, talked with Emily Rooney yesterday about how the idiosyncratic ball yard became a Boston icon and a living monument to the national pastime.
Barnicle recalled his own first visit to Fenway, and how striking it always is to see the green lawn upon first entering the ballpark. His favorite moments: Dave Morehead's no hitter in 1965, the great 2004 Championship series against the Yankees and the poignant visit by Ted Williams to the park in 1991.
It turns out Yaz Day (October 1, 1983) has special significance in the Rooney household. Not only is the day that Carl Yastrzemski, better known to fans as Yaz, ended his 23-year career as a Red Sox left fielder, it's also the day one of Emily's daughters was born.
Barnicle also praises Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino for averting a historical misfortune in 2001 when he helped to keep Fenway in its present place on the map. Barnicle praises Lucchino,who came to Boston after completing his vision for Camden Yards in Baltimore, as well as his management team, for their commitment to improving Fenway and making it the"the biggest star of all" in baseball history. Barnicle marvels at ways found to keep the ballpark running, despite financial woes, with creative ideas for marketing the park itself to fans.
"The idea that even ten years ago you could have told people 'we're going to have tours of Fenway Park. We're going to charge people for the tours, and we'll actually make a little money,..people would have said [of Fenway as it was then] 'That's never gonna happen"
A free open house celebrating 100 years of Fenway Park takes place today.