Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sportsology: Fenway history & The Winter Classic

Posted by Rick Morris

As was the case last year, we'll be getting updates about the NHL Winter Classic from our good pal Russ Cohen of Sportsology, who will be covering the event as he always does. To get you ready for that, here's a column from him about the historic ballpark hosting the event and the nature of the game itself.

Bowling Preceded Hockey at Fenway Park
By Russ Cohen

The Winter Classic is just around the corner and I can’t wait. I have covered every NHL outdoor game, not counting the Rangers-Kings in Vegas, and this one should be a classic. So as I searched the annals of Fenway Park, I looked to see what other major sporting events they’ve had over the years that didn’t include the Boston Red Sox and I was able to find out that they once had Professional Bowling there. This tale was told to me. I couldn’t find it in print. So I believe the source, since his recollection seemed legitimate.

Back in the days of Don Carter, bowling’s first million-dollar man, he ended up bringing other top bowler’s of his era, in the late 50’s and they had an exhibition in Fenway Park. The lanes were setup outside and the park wasn’t sold out, but there were quite a few attendees. In a weird six-degrees-of-separation connection, Carter was actually signed to a baseball deal, as an infielder, by the Philadelphia Athletics.

The stadium is the oldest baseball MLB stadium that’s currently in use in the states; it first opened in 1912. It cost $650,000 to build the entire baseball palace and now the one hockey game will certainly exceed that price tag since the truck and equipment that the league purchased in 2008 cost more than $1.5 million.

In these games, it doesn’t matter which team has the better record. It doesn’t matter if they are Stanley Cup-bound, what matters is that they have fun. I have never seen one hockey player that didn’t have a ball at this event. They loved every minute of it.

“Maybe we’ll have other chances to do this, maybe not,” Sidney Crosby said back in 2008, hoping that he would get a chance to do this again. “Maybe there will be other teams.”

“I had fun today,” said Wayne Gretzky, back in 2003 at the postgame press conference for the Mega Stars Game during the Heritage Classic. “I think it’s great and what happened this weekend I wouldn’t trade in for the world, it was pretty special. Again, how do you duplicate this weekend? The fans were wonderful and the players were excited.”

For Wayne, this was a real family event. His wife Janet was sitting with her young sons as they got to see their dad play hockey one more time. Wayne had a son with him in the locker room after a practice the day before.

Mark Messier was shoveling the snow off the ice when he got a chance to experience outdoor hockey once again, and he knew it was special.

“As a kid, losers had to do the ice for the next game coming on,” said the Famous Number 11. “I think it’s kind of the way the whole weekend was supposed to be…it’s supposed to be getting back to the grass roots of hockey. What it’s supposed to be, where it s come from and what it should be even at this level.”

Ty Conklin won’t be playing in this one, but he is most known for playing in the previous three. He talked about how cold each of them was and now we’ll see if Boston can have that distinction.

“It wasn’t nearly as cold as the Edmonton game. It got colder as the game went on. It was colder than in Buffalo last year,” he said, talking about Chitown.

This year, the Flyers and Bruins will create new memories. Their fans will spend an unforgettable New Year’s Day watching hockey the way it was for so many of us when we were kids.

No comments: