In 2002 Red Sox owner John W. Henry invited A’s General Manager Billy Beane to lunch and made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse, but did. As as preamble Henry led Beane through the august stands at Fenway Park, a scene that’s recreated gorgeously in the movie Moneyball. We see the men strolling through the empty stadium in the rain under a big umbrella, like young lovers in Paris. (In the movie Beane is played by Brad Pitt and is, unbelievably, single.) Beane turns down the Red Sox and their 12.5M offer, but remains appropriately enchanted. He says, “It’s impossible not to feel romantic about baseball.”
Well it’s impossible not to feel romantic about Fenway Park. The little wood seats, the great green fence, and the lopsided, low-lying field shape what might be the most singular sports venue in the country. If the old Yankee Stadium felt like it was raised in the sky, and the old Shea Stadium felt like it had been dropped in a parking lot, then Fenway Park feels like it’s embedded in the earth, as if it’s geological. A great deal of its charm comes from the outrageous and also, somehow, gentle irregularities of the field, especially the way Landsdowne Street tears through the stands and clips left field. The resulting asymmetries leave spectators feeling as if they’re steeped in the realities of history and the city rather than detached, omniscient spectators, as they do at some of the new stadiums. Fenway, instead, makes a peculiar picturesque.