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Fenway: A Biography in Words and Pictures Hardcover – April 14, 1999
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A religious shrine or a giant pinball machine? Museum or amusement park? Historical or hysterical? These are just some of the puzzlers posed by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaugnessy in this lovely homage to the second oldest, single most complex ballpark in the majors. The answers are debatable. What remains absolute are the images Boston's Fenway Park has burned into the imaginations of the faithful and the faithless since the day it opened, a short week after the Titanic sank.
Shaugnessy and photographer Stan Grossfeld combine to offer an often-spectacular visual tribute that looks both back in time and into the heart of all the park's odd nooks, crannies, shadows, and hiding places. They go inside the hand-operated scoreboard on the fabled Green Monster. There's even a lovely picture of a pastoral Fenway covered in snow. Shaughnessy's text--"When they raze Fenway, it'll be like cutting down an old tree. Count the rings. There's one for each celebration and heartache suffered by Red Sox fans"--is affectionate and quite personal. He adds to it with a series of short, lyrical reminiscences from those who've mused about the field-- David Halberstam, Bob Costas, Stephen King, and Doris Kearns Goodwin--and those who've played on it: Don Zimmer, Bucky Dent, Dennis Eckersley, and Carl Yastrzemski. Fittingly, Ted Williams pens the foreward. The result of the amalgamation is an altogether splendid celebration of a landmark about to be pushed by progress into memory. --Jeff Silverman
"Sparkling and upbeat, evoking not the park's gloomy history but its charming eccentricities and ever startling greenness - a place where it has always been heaven to be miserable." (The New York Times)
"In this coffee-table book, Dan Shaughnessy and photographer Stan Grossfield have captured the baseball legend where Ted Williams, Yaz, and Jim Rice patrolled in front of the fabled green monster." (Publishers Weekly)
"In addition to Shaughnessy's recollections of the oldest (with Tiger Stadium) ballpark, there are contributions from Stephen King and Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as former Fenway stars Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski." (Sports Illustrated)
"A lavish pictorial tribute to the grand old ballpark...It's a worthy companion to Shaughnessy's earlier history of Fenway." (The Seattle Times)
"Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy bridges the spaces between the photos with knowledgeable commentary and myriad Fenway facts. For instance, the first ceremonial ball was tossed out by the grandfather of President John F. Kennedy." (USA Today)
"A must read for the members of what Mr. Shaughnessy calls Red Sox Nation...Frankly, I loved the book. Although I'm not a Sawx fan, I love the history and tradition Fenway represents." (The Washington Times)
"A glossy, colorful, large-format album that celebrates the majors' oldest park (1912), the last of the single-tier stadiums." (The Associated Press)
"A last look at the cracker-box stadium of green stands and a giant green left-field wall that's housed some of the most exciting and heartbreaking moments in sports." (CNN Interactive)
"A well-done photographic tribute to one of the last classical ballparks...Dan Shaughnessy provides an elegant, knowledgeable main text." (Cinncinati Inquirer)
"I love this book." (Boston Magazine)
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No doubt there is great anticipation of seeing four of the greatest sluggers in history take their hacks against the left-field wall known as the Green Monster. And perhaps they can go the other way, toward right field, and land a ball beyond the red seat that marks the longest homer in Fenway's illustrious history - a homer hit by none other than the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, more than 50 years ago. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and baseball historian David Halberstam, the walk into the park often is as exciting as the game.
"I think walking up to Fenway is thrilling," Halberstam said in a new book published about Fenway. "The approach to it. The smells. You go to Fenway, and you revert to your childhood. You go to Fenway, and you think: 'Something wonderful is going to happen today.'"
In the book - entitled "Fenway, a biography in words and pictures," published this year - writer Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe and photographer Stan Grossfeld, an associated editor at the Globe, pay tribute to one of Major League Baseball's most storied parks. And, due to construction delays on Milwaukee's new stadium, Fenway will be in the national spotlight for perhaps the final time as it hosts its third All-Star Game.
You can't talk about Fenway without talking about the Green Monster, perhaps the most famous outfield wall in baseball history - a wall that Shaughnessy described in his book as a "New England monument, no less so than Bunker Hill Monument, the Old Man of the Mountain or Walden Pond."
The wall was built, Shaughnessy wrote, to keep balls in play. But more memorable are the balls that have sailed over it - home runs like the one hit in 1978 by Bucky Dent, whose pop fly in any other park cleared the Monster and gave the New York Yankees a victory over Boston in a one-game playoff to determine the division champion. And because the Monster is only 309 feet from home plate at the left-field foul pole, plenty of balls have been hit over it. It is the shortest fence of any major-league ballpark, and rules today stipulate that no wall in any park be closer than 325 feet from home plate.
But, as short as it is, at 37 feet high and capped by a 23-foot screen, the Green Monster can frustrate batters like McGwire and Canseco, who may be able to hit the ball far, but not high. It also can make opposing fielders look bad. Jim Palmer told Shaughnessy about the time Baltimore teammate Don Buford saw a ball skip through his legs, turned around to try and retrieve it and then watched the ball zoom through his legs once again after it caromed back off the wall.
It would be difficult to find another sports arena with a feature as famous as Fenway's Green Monster. Frightfully deceiving. Inviting even the most hapless amateur to step tp the plate and try to hit a ball over it.
"You hear a lot about it," Dent told Shaughnessy for the book. "But when you actually walk out there and see the Wall, you realize what an impact it has on you as a player."
Inside the wall is one of baseball's last hand-operated scoreboards that also adds to the allure of Fenway. And with the cozy dimensions of the park - the right-field pole is only 302 feet from home plate - runs could be going up on the board at a fast rate on Tuesday.
It could be the right-field wall that gets McGwire's, Sosa's, Canseco's or Griffey's attention - or, rather, what's beyond that wall. For, just as famous as the Green Monster is a seat in right field that's painted red - the lone red seat in a sea of green ones - that marks the spot where Ted Williams hit the longest measured home run in Fenway's 87-year history. Newspaper accounts at the time claimed that the 1946 blast traveled 450 feet. But the Red Sox measured the distance in the mid-1980s and got an official number of 502 feet.
"It's hard to believe anybody could hit a ball that far," former Boston player Mo Vaughn told Shaughnessy. "I know I've never even come close - not even in batting practice. I mean, it's not even down the line. It's in the gap. You can barely see that thing."
The Monster, the scoreboard, the red seat and the coziness of the park are just some of the features that make Fenway unique. Love it or hate it, the park always seems to evoke emotion, a lot of it captured in the book by Shaughnessy and Grossfeld, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer whose pictures in the book are as riveting as Shaughnessy's written words.
When one sees Fenway park for the first time, one is immediately taken with the GREEN that the park exudes- the well kept grass, the Green Monster, the green bleacher seats, the green of the luxury and broadcast seats behind home plate. One will also be drenched in the history of this grand park- Pesky's Pole, left field (where several of the greatest players of that position donned Red Sox uniforms from Duffy Lewis to Teddy Ballgame to Yaz, and Rice), the left field pole, where Carlton Fisk hit his miraculous home run in '75; the manually operated left field wall scoreboard, complete with the morse code on it stating then-owner Tom Yawkey's name... Fenway Park is a living, breathing archaelogical site.
Famed Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy takes the reader of this book to each part of Fenway Park with remarkably clear and bright pictures, as well as choice anecdotes from former Sox greats like Ted Williams, Yaz, and the Eck, to other notables such as Jim Palmer, Stephen King, and Bob Costas.
It is the pictures, though, that dominate this great book, and what pictures they are. Focusing mainly on the fans, filled with joy, hope, anticipation, concern, angst, (and a Yankee fan giving us the middle finger) the book captures well what it is to be part of Red Sox Nation on any given day at the park. Add to it photos from outside the park on Yawkey Way, filled with vendors, street musicians, scalpers, etc..and those of the Sox themselves, and this book well encompasses a day at Fenway. The old photos of Williams, Ruth, the Royal Rooters, and "Honey Fitz" throwing the 1st pitch as opening day 1912, remind us to Fenway's rich and storied history, as well.
With the future of Fenway Park well in the balance, this book is all the more poignant and worth sitting down and studying. Whether you believe in "progress" or in saving Fenway Park,(I am among the latter) Shaughnessy's book offers the perfect snapshots to either remember Fenway by or to use in your arguments for saving her. Whatever may happen, Fenway Park is an American landmark, and "Fenway" helps to capture her in all her dignity.
As author David Halberstam said: "You go to Fenway and you think, 'Something wonderful's going to happen today.'"
What's the difference between the two books? FENWAY shows you the whole experience of going to a baseball game at Fenway Park, from the vendors to the fans and the game. The authors had access and got inside the wall and into the dressing room to take shots. They have more big name celebrities giving quotes. FENWAY SAVED, the other gift book, focuses more on the park itself is maybe a more serious one in that it provides more information and perspective and maybe a few more interesting stories along with a roughly equal number of excellent (but a bit less consistently so) photos. The better text balances out the slightly weaker photography. Don't get me wrong, though - the photography is very strong overall.
I give both books a full 5 stars. FENWAY SAVED costs five cents less.