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Book Review: Remembering Fenway Park, An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox

May 9, 2011

Writing the history of Fenway Park is no easy task and when author Harvey Frommer set out to face the challenge he knew that he had his work cut out for him. Fenway, one of the nation’s oldest and most beloved ballparks, packs so much history that no author would be able to get away with anything less than full effort in describing it all. Not to mention the Fenway faithful, notorious for their knowledge and quick jump to point out an error.

In Frommer’s latest book, Remembering Fenway Park, he collects some of the greatest stories ever to unfold within the confines of the ballpark. He doesn’t just rely on personal accounts and box scores to recreate these events, but rather he includes the participants in retelling each story. The book begins with a foreword by Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky and is followed by nearly ten pages of “voices” – individuals whose stories he’s sharing. These aren’t simply current and former players – such as Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, Whitey Ford, Terry Francona, Dennis Eckersley, Don Zimmer, Lou Merloni, Luis Tiant, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, and others – but a collection from all walks of life who love Fenway. Various journalists, both local and national. Countless fans. The team’s owners. Player’s fathers. Ushers and vendors, some who had worked at Fenway going back to the 1940s and 1950s. Possibly one of Frommer’s (and his editors) toughest challenges would have been fitting it all into one book.

Each chapter tackles a decade of Fenway history through the anecdotes, quotes, memories, and stories that the voices share. We relive the opening of the ballpark on April 20, 1912 and the team’s first pennant there.

The 1920s bring the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, seven last place finishes, and dwindling attendance. The 1940s saw troubled times due to World War II and the "Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams roaming left field. The 1960s witness Williams homering in his final at bat, the arrival of Carl Yastrzemski, the 1967 pennant winning team. The 1970s viewed a string of playoff moments including the 1975 World Series (Carlton Fisk’s dramatic home run that beat the Reds) and 1978 one game playoff (Bucky Dent’s home run that beat the Red Sox).

Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs arrive in the 1980s. The 1986 World Series. The “Save Fenway Park” movement begins in the 1990s. Attendance begins to climb. Fenway hosts the All Star Game with Williams in attendance. New owners take over with the new century. The Curse is broken in 2004. They win again in 2007. The team’s consecutive sellout streak sets a Major League record.

Beyond these stories, Frommer packed the book full of photographs of each and every moment going back through the stadium’s history. Fans of Fenway, or baseball, can easily recall many of these events and relive them through the pages.

Fans of the team or the game of baseball can appreciate what’s found in the book’s 200+ pages, but it’s also a must for those that enjoy the history of the game as well. It’s certainly a must read.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure I did receive a copy of Remembering Fenway Park to review from a New York City based PR Consulting Firm known as Press Box Publicity. This is actually the second book I’ve been able to review thanks to this blog.

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