Faithful to Fenway

Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark

288 pages

24 illustrations

April, 2008

ISBN: 9780814799772

$24

Paper

Also available in

Author

Michael Ian Borer is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

All books by Michael Ian Borer

Read the review at MLB.com

The Green Monster. Pesky's Pole. The Lone Red Seat. Yawkey Way. To baseball fans this list of bizarre phrases evokes only one place: Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is Americas oldest major league ballpark still in use. In Faithful to Fenway, Michael Ian Borer takes us out to Fenway where we sit in cramped wooden seats (often with obstructed views of the playing field), where there is a hand-operated scoreboard and an average attendance of 20,000 fewer fans than most stadiums, and where every game has been sold out since May of 2003. There is no Hard Rock Café (like Toronto's Skydome), no swimming pool (like Arizona's Chase Field), and definitely no sushi (which has become a fan favorite from Baltimore to Seattle). As Borer tells us in this captivating book, Fenway is short on comfort but long on character.

Faithful to Fenway investigates the mystique of the ballpark. Borer, who lived in Boston before and after the Red Sox historic 2004 World Series win, draws on interviews with Red Sox players, including Jason Varitek and Carl Yastrzemski, management, including Larry Lucchino and John Henry, groundskeepers, vendors, and scores of fans to uncover what the park means for Boston and the people who revere it. Borer argues that Fenway is nothing less than a national icon, more than worthy of the banner outside the stadium that proclaims, “America's Most Beloved Ballpark”. Certainly as one of New England's greatest landmarks, Fenway captures the hearts and imaginations of a deferential and devoted public. There are T-shirts, bumper stickers, banners, and snow globes that honor the ballpark. Fenway shows up in popular films, novels, television commercials, and in replicated form in people's backyards—and coming in 2008 to Quincy, Massachusetts, is Mini-Fenway Park, a replica stadium built especially for kids.

Full of legendary stories, amusing anecdotes, and the shared triumph and tragedy of the Red Sox and their fans, Faithful to Fenway offers a fresh and insightful perspective, offering readers an unforgettable pilgrimage to the mecca of baseball.

Reviews

  • “Along with his astute social scientific insight, Borer also includes plenty of first-person accounts of the ballpark from Red Sox greats like Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Pesky and from regular Bostonians and out-of-town baseball fans. This ability to intermingle scholarly research with America’s beloved pastime has allowed Borer to write an astute academic treatise that has the appeal of a consumer sports pub.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Borer assesses the attraction of Fenway Park through his own expert lens. The results . . . will prove invaluable not only to Red Sox and more general baseball scholars but also to students of urban life, the organization of limited inner-city space, social psychology and collective memory, how a baseball park can become a cultural shrine, and a cohorts shared values—not to mention Fenway’s contributions to our understanding of fandom.”

    Library Journal

  • “Boston’s Fenway Park has become as valued as any star player in those cities and as much an attraction as the teams themselves. Borer, a sociologist and lifelong New Englander, explores the history of Fenway and its place in Boston’s culture through research and interviews with players, stadium personnel, fans, and team owners. . . . [H]e explains Fenway’s place in the culture as an example of identity continuity. Fenway is an emotional anchor for fans in the sense that it encompasses a part of an individual’s past and present.”

    Booklist

  • “A must-have item for Red Sox fans who champion their old stadium.”

    Maine Sunday Telegram

  • “Borer has captured the magic of Fenway Park.”

    —Doris Kearns Goodwin

  • “Even Yankee fans will have much to consider from this book, published so soon after the Red Sox curse has ended. This is an important work of the sociology of sport and of urban sociology.”

    —Gary Alan Fine, author of With the Boys: Little League Baseball and Pre-adolescent Culture

  • “Even if you don’t already love the Red Sox, you’ll love this account of the stories people tell about why Fenway matters.”

    —Nancy T. Ammerman, author of Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives

  • “Borer haunted Fenway Park for several season. He talked to players, executives, vendors, fans. Trot Nixon discussed the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry with him, and former Red Sox second basemen Mike Andrews described the sadness of being traded.”

    The Falmouth Enterprise

  • “While many writers have likened America’s particular devotion to baseball to religious devotion, Borer gives texture and substance to the metaphor through curious and moving stories of Red Sox fans’ treatment of Fenway as sacred turf.”

    American Journal of Sociology

  • "Borer's text is a solid achievement."

    —Robert Trumpbour, American Studies Journal

  • Faithful to Fenway is a must-have item for the Red Sox fans who champion their old stadium despite its uncomfortable seats.”

    Portland Press Herald

  • “Borer’s Faithful to Fenway: Believing in Boston, Baseball, and America’s Most Beloved Ballpark gives proper props to the Red Sox home since 1912.”

    Sacramento Bee

  • “A fascinating book!”

    —Doug Miller, for MLB.com