Boston’s Fenway Park in 1999 was an endangered species. One of the last old Major League Baseball parks in an era when new stadiums with luxury skyboxes were replacing them all over the country. I had just lived through the travesty of Chicago’s Comiskey Park being torn down and replaced with what would turn out to be the last architecturally heinous baseball stadium of the modern-day. All the grandeur of a shopping mall combined with an airport terminal.
My dad and I disagreed on many things when I was growing up. But we came together when it came to baseball. And when we heard Fenway was in danger of being replaced, I flew both my mom and dad to Boston with me, to take in a couple of White Sox/Red Sox games before it was too late.
One Sunday morning while they went to one of the many Boston Catholic Churches for Sunday Mass, I went to my own church. I walked around Fenway hours before the afternoon game. Before the crowds. The players were just starting to arrive and the neighborhood kids knew just where they were, parking behind one of the fences on the 1st base side of the park along Van Ness Street.
I made this photograph of the kids reaching under the fence, not knowing which Red Sox player was on the other side who might grab their paper and sign his name. Only when they got their autograph back under the fence did they know who it was. It was great to watch them jump up and excitedly run away with their prize.
Happily, clearer heads prevailed in the years following and Fenway is off the endangered ballpark list. But I’m glad it was for a brief time, or we may not have made the trip.