Belth catches up with Glenn Stout, author of Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year.
BB: One of the incredible things about Fenway Park is that it has changed over 100 years, and although it may seem antiquated, the current Red Sox ownership has done a lot to add modern touches without tearing the place down. Can you talk about some of the most significant alterations the place has seen and why it continues to last.
GS: Fenway Park has lasted because until quite recently they never really tried to preserve it. There was little waxy nostalgia about the place until the 1980s. If they needed to change something, they just changed it. In that way the ballpark was allowed to evolve, and, except for the original grandstand, was almost entirely rebuilt in 1933/34 anyway. Significantly, I think, is that despite all the things they’ve done recently, they’ve left the interior footprint of the field alone. That allows fans to imagine they’re in the same park where Ruth and Williams and Yaz played, and where Fisk and Bucky hit it over the wall, and to connect that history. That’s mostly a fantasy, but an effective one. So despite the fact that I find Fenway far too busy these days – there are signs EVERYWHERE, and a constant barrage of noise – in many ways the park more resembles the retro parks that were built in imitation of Fenway more than the original Fenway Park – fans can still have a unique and memorable personal experience. A significant number of fans at any given game are tourists, and tourists will even find cramped seats and posts charming.
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