National Geographic Special: Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100
premieres on Monday, March 26, 2012.
Check Local Listings to see when it’s airing on your local PBS station.

Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 celebrates the centennial of the oldest and most intimate big league ballpark in America. Fenway’s Grand Opening was on April 20, 1912, when the Red Sox played the New York Highlanders, a team that would be renamed the Yankees the next year. The film uses a current Red Sox-Yankees game as a thread to the history of the ballpark and as a way to go inside and get behind the scenes to see what it takes to put on a major league game.

Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1918.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1918.

We’re in the locker room as the Red Sox get ready for the game, in the underground batting cage where ball players can swing bats away from the eyes of the public and the press. What’s it like inside the Green Monster’s famous manual scoreboard? We find out. We follow the superintendent as he takes care of the century-old building; the groundskeepers who prepare the field of play; a vendor who races through the stands selling hot dogs; the bat boy who’s really more of a bat man; and the guy who’s worked at Fenway Park for 32 years and whose job is to rub every one of the 160 or so balls used in the game with mud from a secret location.

Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper safe at third.

Boston Public Library

Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper is safe at third during a 1916 game at Fenway Park.

Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 hears from players and historians that Fenway Park is not just home to a legendary baseball team, the place where Babe Ruth made his major league debut and Ted Williams set records. It is also a public space that is vital to the city of Boston. From the very beginning, Fenway hosted all sorts of events, including other sports, masses for World.War.I soldiers, a 1919 rally for Irish independence,and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last presidential campaign speech.

We see how, in 2002, Fenway Park narrowly escaped demolition, the fate of most other early baseball palaces. The ownership group that took over in that year was committed to the ballpark’s preservation, turning the run-down stadium into both a fan favorite and the most popular tourist attraction in Boston.

Fenway Park is a memory palace for generations of fans and ballplayers, a place where you can sit in the same seat as your grandfather to watch the stars of the day play America’s pastime. In fast-paced, mobile America, the old building provides a sense of continuity, an anchor to our past.

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