Belly of the Beast
Fenway's left field wall - The Green Monster.
The Monster’s scoreboard is one of only two manually operated MLB scoreboards in existence today. When you enter the inner workings of the Monster through the secret door on the scoreboard, you feel as though you’ve entered an alternate dimension. One second you’re out in left field of Fenway Park, sun shining, American flags waving, and the next you’re in a dimly lit hallway, half concrete support wall and the other half dark metal wall with sunlight blasting in through slits.
As your eyes adjust to the dull yellow light, you notice that the concrete walls are filthy. Wait, not filthy, just littered with signatures. Thousands of them. You’re told that players have been signing the walls here since the park opened. Ted Williams, Carl Yaztremski, Roger Clemens, too many to name and yet you keep recognizing more names the longer you look. It is to baseball what the dressing room at CBGB’s was to punk rock.
The numbers and team’s city names are all painted on sheets of metal that are inserted into their slots from behind. The scorekeeper has been the man behind the Monster for seventeen years now (Aside from being an actual member of the team, it’s the most coveted job at the park).
We entered into this amazing little world during batting practice before the game. Barry Bonds was taking his practice swings while we were behind the wall and as we heard about the history of the place and how it all worked, every few sentences were punctuated by the loud POP of the ball hitting the scoreboard. While we all jumped, the scorekeeper and the camera guy hardly noticed. Just the same old sound of a day at work for them.
I didn’t know if my kids would be impressed with all of this or not, being too young to have the perspective that hard bitten, often disappointed, but always loyal old Sox fans like their parents do. So I was pleasantly surprised when they seemed to have the same sense of awe that I did. And that’s when I realized what’s so cool about this kind of thing: It takes you back to how you felt when you were a kid, when the world seemed like a huge magical place with secrets that would sometimes reveal themselves.
I tried to take a lot of pictures. Many were out of focus. I was disappointed at first, then realized that it’s fitting, because the photos will match my kid’s memories of this special little treat.