Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PBS Documentary on Fenway's 100th Anniversary

Last night on PBS there was a documentary on the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park. And for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's tough to find new facts and new ways to talk about the old ballpark, but PBS did just that.

Using a day-in-the-life format of the park was a nice touch. The documentary starts with the 2:30am unloading of New York Yankees' equipment and progresses through the day as people work to get the park ready, the teams ready, and the equipment ready for the game. I particularly enjoyed seeing the perspectives of the groundscrew and a hot dog vendor. And the poor Red Sox employee who has to be the visiting team bat boy and don a Yankees uniform. I felt both envy and pity for that guy. That's a really cool job but it also must be kind of weird.

It does take an army of people to put on an event and this documentary emphasized that point nicely.

It also told the story of Fenway Park's history. Which has been told a few hundred times, so it's tough to find a fresh angle. I enjoyed the CGI of old Fenway Park as it evolved from 1912 to the 1926 fire to the massive renovations of the 1930s. I'm also glad the film didn't just glorify the Sox and Fenway. It pointed out the sad fact that Fenway was the last facility to be the home ballpark of a black player in the Majors. And that until recently, the place was a rundown, neglected, disintegrating building.

I enjoyed the film. It reminded me of how special Fenway seemed to me as a kid and how special it can still be.

I only wish Mike Barnacle weren't in it. The other interviewees featured were brilliant, especially ESPN's Howard Bryant. They called Barnacle a "Columnist," but I wish it had said "Mike Barnacle: Plagiarist." Barnacle, as was expected, spouted the same types of things that have been said about Fenway for ages. He brought no new perspective, no unique ideas.

He just sat there with his beady little eyes, looking and acting exactly like the carrion journalist that he is.

But apart from Barnacle and the odd appearance by Michael Dukakis, this was a splendid little documentary that I highly recommend to any and all Boston sports fans.

It will be re-aired tonight at 9 on WGBH, and numerous other times in the upcoming days.

Look for the Bruins sweater in Clay Buchholz's locker, stuffed between his Red Sox apparel.

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