The Name of the Game
Recently the Red Sox celebrated the return of Carlton Fisk to the
organization by naming the left field foul pole “Fisk’s Pole”. Who’s
going to quibble about another Hallmark Holiday? While this brings some symmetry
to “America’s Greatest Ballpark” alongside Pesky Pole, why stop here?
Scores of people made Fenway and the Red Sox great, tragic, and triumphant over
the years. Many deserve recognition even if they didn’t necessarily have their
greatest moment at Fenway.
Should the Monster seats be the Dick Radatz Monster Seats in memory of
the Sox great closer? Radatz pitched over 120 innings of relief four times for
the Sox, including the 1964 season, pitching 157 relief innings, yielding only
103 hits and fanning 181.
The tarpaulin-covered centerfield bleacher area was informally named ‘Conig’s
Corner’ after Tony C’s eye injury led him to complain about fans’ white
jerseys interfering with his view. Not far from there resides the Al Luplow
Bullpen, where the Indian right fielder robbed Dick Williams of a home run,
June 27, 1963 in one of the greatest catches ever in Boston.
Below and to the right of Conig’s Corner was the Reggie Smith Flagpole,
where the eponymous center fielder gunned down Dave McNally from the 379 foot
sign as McNally tried to score on a sacrifice fly. Naturally, many of Reggie’s
best years came after he left the Sox, but he eclipsed .300 in six full seasons
and slugged 314 homers.
Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee Grass covers the entire outfield. Lee is quoted,
“It’s hard to be mean when you’re stoned.” Everyone calls George Toma the ‘Guru
of Grass’, but maybe Lee deserves the title.
Moving in from the outfield, we have the Tris Speaker Second Base Bag.
Sure, he’s long gone, but holds career records for outfield assists and twice
completed unassisted double plays from centerfield in 1918, snagging line drives
and beating the runner back to second. Take that Paul Blair.
Naturally, we have the Bill Buckner First Base Bag. Buckner hit .300 five
times, missed by a point with the Sox, is 53rd in all-time hits, and yet we will
always remember him best (worst) for missing Mookie Wilson’s roller in Game 6 of
the 1986 World Series. Those ghosts are exorcised, but history remains.
Luis Aparicio third base line. Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, in the strike
shortened 1972 season, fell down rounding third in the next to last game of the
season costing the Sox a chance at victory. His slip caused the Sox to miss the
playoffs by half a game. Aparicio’s 9 Gold Gloves and 9 stolen base titles
couldn’t protect him from Red Sox demons.
In the center of Fenway’s diamond is the John Wyatt Pitching Mound. Why
Wyatt? Not content with the Magnus Effect of increased force on the faster side
of a spinning ball to create baseball magic, Wyatt brought the Vaseline Ball to
Fenway Park. Wyatt was thought to keep a syringe of Vaseline in the thumb of his
glove. Wyatt had twenty saves and a 2.60 ERA for the Impossible Dream Red Sox of
1967. Runnerup was the Luis Tiant Whirling Dervish Mound.
Can we forget about the Carl Yastrzemski Home Plate? Although we remember
Yaz for 452 homers, over 3000 hits, and stellar left field play, we all remember
the game in 1976 where he got so frustrated at the umpiring that after striking
out he covered home plate with dirt and tossed his helmet on it.
I can’t do justice to the Billy Martin Visitor’s Dugout, the Vin
Orlando Clubhouse, the Tim Naehring Whirlpool, the Jason Varitek
Fungo Circle, and too numerous nooks and crannies that make Fenway so
notorious. We can only dream that the future creates as many great memories for
our children and us.
-- Ron Sen, Boston Dirt Dogs contributor
(Check out Ron's blog, Red Sox Reality Check)