x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Small park, but full of history

second home While even the New York Yankees have abandoned the "House that Ruth Built", Yankee Stadium, Boston's Fenway Park remains much the same since it opened in 1912.

While even the New York Yankees have abandoned the "House that Ruth Built", Yankee Stadium, in favour of high-tech and high-revenue digs next door, Boston's Fenway Park remains much the same since it opened in 1912. It is the oldest baseball park in America and it shows. Its dimensions, which include an 11 metre high left field wall, the "green monster" wall, and a tantilisingly close right field, make it an idiosyncratic if not bizarre venue for baseball in an age when managers depend on rigid mathematical formulas to assemble their teams.

Fenway only seats about 35,000, far smaller than any other park. In spite of this, perhaps because of it, it has become a place of pilgrimage for baseball fans all over the world. It was here where Kevin Costner sat beside James Earl Jones in the movie Field of Dreams to find out more about why he had to build a baseball stadium in an Iowa cornfield. It is outside Fenway in Good Will Hunting that Robin Williams' character meets his wife, choosing to chat with her instead of watching a game in the World Series.

Fenway was the home of Ted Williams, the greatest hitter ever to play the game. It was the first home to Babe Ruth before he was traded to the Yankees, ushering in one of the greatest rivalries in sport and the "curse of bambino", which many believed prevented the Red Sox from winning a World Series for 86 years. In 2004, they mounted an improbable come back, down three games to zero in a seven games series, to win the next four games and beat the hated Yankees, allowing them to get to, and to win, their first World Series in several generations.

The curse mat have been cast aside that autumn, but the ghosts of baseball's past linger on a crisp evening at Fenway.