WAY TO GO!
Back to Fenway on Wednesday!
Big Papi was okay on first … surprise! What a great series this is turning out to be. Who really thought we’d take two out of three in St. Louis? Wonders never cease.
I always liked baseball. I grew up in New York where the annual epic battles between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees were so important we listened to the games in classrooms in elementary school during school hours. When the Dodgers beat the Yankees in 1955, that was as good as it gets for a baseball fan, or more accurately, a Dodgers fan.
When the Dodgers deserted Brooklyn for the west coast, we were heartbroken. Faithless Dodgers! I drifted away. College, babies, work … no time for much else.
Until I married Garry. To say he lived and died with the Red Sox is not an overstatement. Like me, he came from New York and had been a passionate Dodgers fan. Like me, he felt he had been set adrift when our team abandoned us. Although we revived a bit when the Mets came to town, it wasn’t the same, though the Miracle Mets of 1969 almost (but not quite) made up for some of the hurt feelings left in the wake of the Dodgers emigration. Unlike me, he had moved to a true baseball town and found a new team to love.
Ah, Boston. And oh — the Red Sox! In what other town could a huge neon Citgo sign at the ballpark become a city landmark?
The beloved, hapless, hopeless, cursed team of teams. When I came to live in Boston in 1988, they hadn’t won a World Series since 1918. They’d gotten so close … and then some terrible error, some disaster would occur. Everyone would scream, tear out their hair, then finally sigh and murmur “Wait until next year.”
Next year came. Twice, in 2004 and 2007. After that, everyone calmed down. We had done it, not one, but twice. The second time proving the first was no fluke. We could hold our heads up. The curse was lifted. All would be well.
Back to my life with baseball. Garry is, was, always will be an ardent devotee of The American Pastime. Baseball season is long and busy. It isn’t a game a week. It’s a game everyday and even more often, if like Garry, you follow more than one team. I realized early in our marriage I had a choice. Spend my summers without Garry … or learn to love baseball.
I went with baseball. It wasn’t hard to love it. More like remembering something I had once known. I’ll never be quite as much a fan as Garry, but I understand the game, appreciate the art of it and know how baseball is an integral part of American history and tradition. I’ve been to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame and loved it.
Baseball has enriched my life and my marriage. And I have a year-round husband.
I had to be at the Baptist Hospital today to see my spine guy, harboring a hope that something can be done to make it hurt a bit less. I have been to the Baptist before and I remembered that it was at the top of the hill on Parkman Hill Avenue in the area known to everyone as “hospital city.”
I’m not going to bother to explain what that means because I’m pretty sure you can figure it out. What I did not remember, or perhaps had never noticed, is that the view from the hospital is great, particularly if you’re a baseball fan and the words “CITGO sign” resonate for you.
There’s a saying in Boston: “London has Big Ben, Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Boston has the CITGO sign.”
If you are neither a baseball fan and nor from New England, you are probably saying “Huh?” A gigantic neon sign for CITGO does not have the iconic sound that you get from Ayers Rock, Big Ben, or the Taj Mahal, but for Bostonians, it’s so entwined with Fenway Park, the Red Sox, and Boston’s identity that the idea of losing it is unacceptable.
Should CITGO cease to exist, I’m sure Boston would make sure the sign remained, flashing over Fenway Park. It’s as obvious an identifier of Boston as the Empire State Building is of New York or the Gold Gate Bridge is of San Francisco.
A Sign Of The Times
The iconic CITGO sign has been a part of the Boston skyline since 1940. Located at 660 Beacon Street, on what was once a Cities Service divisional office, the sign originally featured the Cities Service logo, but was replaced with the famous CITGO “trimark” of today when the CITGO brand was created for the marketing division of Cities Service in 1965.
Efforts to remove the sign in the early 1980s faced fierce opposition and led CITGO to restore the sign, with groups even fighting to declare the sign a landmark.
The CITGO Sign is held in particular high regard by Boston sports fans. Red Sox sluggers are enticed by the so-called “C-IT-GO” sign as they blast home runs over the left-field wall, and runners in the grueling Boston Marathon welcome its sight as the 20th mile mark. Its pulsing flash in the night sky has even been used by mothers-to-be at nearby Beth Israel to time their contractions.
It’s no secret that the CITGO Sign in Boston’s Kenmore Square is beloved by people across the country and around the world. Not only has it become a major image of the city of Boston, featured in postcards and tourist brochures, but the sign was deemed an “Objet d’Heart” by Time Magazine, was photographed by Life Magazine and featured in the New York Times. It has even become a source of inspiration for artists, musicians and filmmakers from around the world.
A Boston Icon Gets a Facelift
In late July 2010, the 45-year-old, 3,600-square-foot sign had all its LED lights replaced with more technologically advanced and environmentally friendly versions. The upgrades required that the sign go dark while the work was done.
Boston residents watched excitedly as the sign was relit on Sept. 17 during the 7th inning stretch of a Red Sox home game— just in time for baseball playoff season. Today, the famous beacon looks better than ever!
When I first came to Boston in 1987, I was puzzled. I couldn’t understand why everyone loved this huge, garish neon sign. Half the time only pieces of it lit up, so what was all the fuss about? It didn’t take me long to get it: this sign was part of the whole Fenway Park-Red Sox mystique, a signature of the park, the team and the city. Moreover, the CITGO sign is visible from far and wide. It is the first landmark I recognized and used to find my way around the peculiar streets of the city. You can use it to find Fenway … and it’s important to be able to find Fenway Park. You might be forgiven for not being able to find Faneuil Hall, but you have to know the way to Fenway. Even if you don’t care about baseball. It’s a Boston thing.
So there I was, on the third floor of the Hospital, which is the lobby floor since the building is built into the hill and suddenly, I looked out and I saw Boston. Better, I saw the CITGO sign … and below it, the green walls of Fenway Park. They tried to build a new ball park some years ago but it turned out the fans didn’t want a new ball park. They wanted Fenway Park. In this house, we simply couldn’t imagine giving up Fenway.
After a great deal of hoopla and political maneuvering, they renovated the old park. CITGO fixed their sign. All is right with the world: Fenway is safe, at least for a while.
This year, 2012, was the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. If the team hadn’t had their worst season in decades, it probably would have been a more gala occasion. Nonetheless, the Red Sox have put together a great website with pictures going back to the turn of the century. Lots of history and more. Check it out!
Martha Ann Kennedy's Blog, Copyright 2013-2017, all rights reserved to the author/artist
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