David Rubenstein, voiceover: Baseball has been America's pastime and obsession since the 1860s, and no place is more of a shrine to the game's history than Boston's Fenway Park.
Announcer: Good evening and welcome to Fenway Park, America's most beloved ballpark.
Man: There's nothing comparable in any of the other sports.
It's the star.
They market, "Come to Fenway.
Oh, by the way, you know, we have some players you may know, too."
But Fenway's the star.
Different man: It's like something out of a dream.
It's just this beautiful, beautiful place, this beautiful thing dropped right in the middle of the city.
Woman: I'd never met anyone that grew up in New England and had never been to Fenway Park, because it didn't matter if you were a sports fan.
This was our holy grail.
You had to come here.
[Bat hits ball] [Cheering and applause] Rubenstein, voice-over: Fenway is the oldest ballpark in America and embodies so many of the values that Americans hold dear: community, family, loyalty, and resilience.
Man: Just the word "Fenway"...
The place is magical, I think.
It's almost like a fairytale where there's this door, like, and you just open this thing and you go in and it's like--"Psschoo!"
Different man: This is my favorite place on Earth, bar none.
In my phone, I have pictures of the park.
Some people take pictures of food.
I take pictures of Fenway Park, and I keep them.
Man: The fans screaming, cheering, looking forward to see a hit, to see a strikeout, living every moment.
Man: You need to thank God that Fenway Park is still here.
You need to cherish it, even if you're not from here.
♪ ♪ David Rubenstein, voice-over: Ever since I was a kid, I loved baseball.
I played Little League growing up in Baltimore, but I've always wanted to come to Boston to see Fenway Park.
I wanted to see for myself what makes Fenway an American icon, how it has managed to survive for over 110 years, and what's the real story behind the infamous Curse of the Bambino.
And secretly, I'd like to hit one over the Green Monster.
So, welcome to Fenway Park.
Thank you for having me here.
I think the best way to get a feel for Fenway is to walk around, is to get a feel for the actual-- the actual ballpark itself.
So, let's take a walk.
OK, let's go.
I assume they would need somebody really good to be able to get me to-- to strike me out, but this is my batting stance, uh, from Little League.
Hasn't been changed much since Little League.
And I'd just go like that, and the ball would go all the way over the Green Monster.
So, why is it the Green Monster?
Why isn't it the Red Monster since you're the Red Sox?
Coffin: So, the Green Monster got that unique color in the 1940s, and it is Fenway Green.
It's a lot bigger in person, and there's uniquenesses to it that you only see when you get up close, one of which is all of what we call "Fenway tattoos."
So these are all the pockmarks that you see where the ball has hit hard enough to leave a mark behind.
And if you look close at some of these tattoos, you can see the seams or even the writing on the ball because that's how hard it hits.
It leaves a mark behind.
So if you're hitting a ball all the way out here, it's got some velocity to it.
And how high is it?
Coffin: So, it is 37 feet high, 2 inches.
Rubenstein: OK, and so, what is right behind here, if you walked right behind the Green Monster?
So, there's actually a room behind this wall, and that's how they operate the manual scoreboard.
Would you like to take a look?
Coffin, voice-over: So, we are 1 of only 2 manually-operated scoreboards left in Major League Baseball, us and Wrigley Field.
And this is one of the most unique features of Fenway.
Where--I don't know where you-- Where do you-- So, you would take it and put it right down in that slot.
Put it in here?
OK. [Metal clanks] Whoops.
Not as easy as you'd think.
So, hopefully Fenway Park will survive my doing this.
Ha ha ha!
I don't know.
So, you know, I've toured Gettysburg, and this is like touring Gettysburg, a historic site.
Hallowed ground, right?
Rubenstein, voice-over: I played Little League baseball in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.
I wouldn't say that I was a superstar, but I was on the all-star team.
My biggest setback was when I went to college, my mother threw away all my baseball cards.
I had perfect baseball cards.
I even kept all the--the bubble gum, and everything was intact.
But anyway, she didn't realize how valuable it was.
Rubenstein, voice-over: I wanted to understand what an iconic ballpark like Fenway says about us as Americans, and why we've been crazy about baseball for over 150 years.
So, I went to meet with Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural historian Paul Goldberger, who recently wrote a book about ballparks and their place in the American story.
Rubenstein: So, you say in your book that there's a kind of Jeffersonian approach-- Yes.
to architecture and a kind of Hamiltonian approach-- Right.
and it's kind of reflected in baseball stadiums.
Can you explain what you mean?
Well, you know, much of American history and culture has been a tension between, as you know, the Jeffersonian belief in the rural and suspicion of cities.
Hamilton believed that cities and industry and finance would be the future of America and was far more urban in his nature and inclination.
The baseball park is one of the only places that kind of unites these two things.
Goldberger: Baseball grew to be our first professional sport, and it grew big in the 19th century, largely driven by immigrants who enjoyed the spectacle of the game, in part because going to a ball game allowed them to be in a kind of pleasure garden of the ballpark.
You have within this very urban structure of a stadium this magnificent green space.
The early ones, like Fenway Park, were deeply connected to the fabric of neighborhoods.
They were really neighborhood elements.
Man: Well, the team first began in 1901, and for their first 11 seasons, they played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds.
Northeastern University is there now.
There's actually a statue of Cy Young, where the original home plate was.
Man: Huntington Avenue Grounds was a wooden firetrap that was built like the grandstands of an old carnival.
There was only one way in and one way out.
Man: Wood had one big problem: it burned.
So when they decided to build a new ballpark, they wanted to use state-of-the-art construction, which at that time was concrete-and-steel construction.
When John I. Taylor, owner of the ball club, decided that the Red Sox needed a new ballpark, he selected James McLaughlin, who was a young architect.
McLaughlin's buildings were also scattered all over the city, so that when Fenway was first built, particularly that facade, it looked like the rest of the city looked, so it fit right in from the very beginning.
Rubenstein: So, it opened in 1912.
And why does it have such a weird shape?
I mean, it has a short left field and a long right field.
Why--why didn't they just make it equal?
Yes, so the ballpark actually fits within to the city blocks.
You've got Lansdowne and Van Ness and Brookline Ave, and Jersey Street that creates this odd and unique geometry of Fenway Park.
I think it's one of the things that makes it so special, these very, very unique dimensions.
Woman: I think when I was about 9, my dad took me to Fenway Park for the first time.
I brought my glove-- I was a lefty-- and, uh, I just remember walking up the ramp to the field, and you---you just couldn't believe the color of the field.
It looked like the Emerald City from "The Wizard of Oz."
Man: The colors, the grass, the green.
You know, if every knob of visual is turned up to 10, and the uniforms are, like, from outer space.
Like, how is--how can they be that white?
Man: I was 10 years old.
My dad bought me a "Goldust Twins" pin with Jim Rice and Fred Lynn.
I still have it.
I still have the scorecard that he scored the game in, uh, and I've--I've never turned back.
That was the first.
That was the first time seeing it, and it, uh-- it changed my life.
Vendor, yelling: Scorecards!
Second vendor: We have baseball cards... Man: Before you even get into the park, you can smell the sausages...
Vendor, shouting: Peanuts!
Pistachios and cashew nuts!
Man: You hear the guy Nicky the peanut guy.
It was just--it's like another world.
I--I can still, like, talking to you now, thinking about it, I can smell everything.
For a little kid, 10 years old, it was fantastic.
And I was hooked.
Man: You walk in, you come in from down first base side, you look out and you see it, and it's magic.
And the power of this building is unlike... any building in the country for--for me.
Stout: Red Sox fans got spoiled after 1912.
The Red Sox were in the World Series in 1912.
They were also in the World Series in '15, '16, and 1918.
The big star, of course, during this era was Babe Ruth, who joined the team in 1915.
Man: He was a great pitcher with--you know, he's a 23-game winner, and that's where he's doing most of his damage then, but the hitting's starting to take hold.
And then the Red Sox committed the original sin of baseball.
That is, they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees for cash.
They won 5 of the first 15 World Series, they were the greatest team in all of baseball, and after the trade of Ruth, they don't win again for 86 years.
That became what the Red Sox carried around: the Curse of the Bambino.
Stout: Babe Ruth was a incredibly talented player.
No one, however, could have predicted at the time that Babe Ruth, in lowercase letters, would be BABE RUTH in neon with lights flashing on him.
When he got to New York, he became BABE RUTH.
The paperwork detailing the sale of Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees is now in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rubenstein, voice-over: It's fascinating to see the impact Babe Ruth had on American life.
He grew up a poor kid in my hometown of Baltimore, but after he was sold to the Yankees, he became the most famous person in America.
It seems like baseball itself exploded in popularity once Ruth started hitting home runs.
Rubenstein: So, what was The Curse of the Bambino?
Well, it is the superstition that when Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees that he cursed the Red Sox to not win another World Series, and they didn't for another 84 years.
And in that time, the Yankees not only won their first world championship, they won a total of 26 world championships before the Red Sox broke their curse.
Do you think that was a pretty good curse then?
Well, I can't say I'm a believer in curses, uh, but it does make for a good story.
So, as good as he was, why would the owner of the Red Sox want to sell him to the New York Yankees?
Well, as a lot of things in baseball, it all comes down to money.
And, well, Babe Ruth wanted more money.
So what did the owner of the Red Sox say?
He put his foot down, and he wasn't willing to renegotiate.
And so he decided to sell him to the Yankees.
Right here, this is his transfer agreement.
So, this is the American League OKing the sale from Boston to New York.
So, it was $100,000, 25,000 each year.
with a little bit of interest.
Would you say uh, that was the best investment in baseball history?
It was definitely a pretty good one.
I think the Yankees took a gamble, uh, and they--I think they won that gamble.
Nowlin: The Red Sox were a terrible team.
They finished in last place most years in the twenties, and then into the thirties, they struggled as well.
Rubenstein, voice-over: In 1933, Boston's hopes were raised when a 30-year-old from Michigan named Tom Yawkey bought Fenway Park and the Red Sox one week after inheriting $4 million.
Nowlin: He loved baseball.
He came to love Fenway Park.
He had it renovated right away, fixed it all up, spruced it up, constructed the left-field wall, known as the Green Monster.
Tom Yawkey built this place up to be a beautiful place.
He built up the team right away, too, bringing in a lot of stars from other teams.
They started doing better in 1939 when Ted Williams joined the team.
Rubenstein, voice-over: But nothing could break the curse.
During Yawkey's 44 years owning the team, the Red Sox made the playoffs only 3 times and never won a World Series.
With all the wonders in Boston, the biggest one might be why fans kept filling Fenway Park for 86 years between World Series victories.
[Crowd chanting indistinctly] If anyone knows the answer to that mystery, it's the dean of American baseball writers, Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons.
Rubenstein: Some people say that the fans at Fenway Park are not fans so much as participants in the game.
They actually are-- feel like they're in the game a bit.
Do you feel that's true?
Yes, and, especially, they try to intimidate players.
They really believe that they can carry the team.
The fans are right on top of the players.
Players can hear everything the fans are saying to them.
You have the sense of being right in the heart of Boston.
My dear friend Mike Barnicle always said, "Baseball is not a life-and-death matter, but the Red Sox are."
Rubenstein: So, who was the greatest Red Sox of them all?
I think Williams.
It's easy to argue that he's the greatest hitter of all time.
He was also--there was such a presence of a Hollywood figure in him.
He was very colorful.
I mean, he was a guy, walks in a room, the room was his.
Announcer: Say, Ted, got any base hits in that bat of yours?
Oh, I think I'm gonna do all right.
Announcer: What makes you think so?
Well, I've always hit good in this Detroit park.
If they throw it where I'm swingin', and I'll be swingin', it might mean the old ball game.
He was a big-time superstar before they had big-time superstars.
You know, he-- he was viral every day before viral was invented, you know.
Johnson: He was the best.
He was, you know, the heart and soul of this place, and for many years.
Nowlin: He came from a poor background.
He came from a broken family.
So he built his own life around baseball and the ballpark, and it was serious business to him.
He said, "At some point along the way, all I want "when I walk down the street is for people to say, "'There goes Ted Williams, "the greatest hitter who ever lived.'"
Montville: I mean, he was consumed by hitting.
He would walk down the street and--and he would have a bat, and he'd swing at flowers and try and hit the heads off the flowers.
And, you know, I mean, he was just consumed by that.
Announcer: Russo pitches, Williams swings.
There's a high drive going deep, deep.
It is a home run on... Rubenstein, voice-over: But even Ted Williams couldn't break the Red Sox Curse.
They only went to the World Series once during his career-- in 1946, and they lost.
Rubenstein: Now, Ted Williams was famous for having exited in a perfect way.
His last time at bat in baseball, he hit a home run.
Was that here?
Coffin: Yep, that was here!
Um, so, his last game in September of 1960.
And his last at-bat, um, was hitting a home run.
Announcer: And here is Ted's last at-bat.
[Crowd cheering] Johnson: There are only 10,000 people at his final game.
This is Ted Williams!
Yes, I know the team was not in contention.
They hadn't been for a number of years, but there's sort of a disconnect there.
Shaughnessy: I was an elementary school kid, and the team was bad every year.
It was a 10-team American League.
They were 8th, 9th, or 10th.
So, you'd come in with no chance.
You'd be out of it by May or June, and it was just a very dark time.
Man: Fenway Park was regarded at that point like the old sofa at Grandma's house.
You know, Tom Yawkey was talking about, "They gotta get a new ballpark.
You can't make any money here.
You people are lucky I'm subsidizing this place."
Coffin: There was a proposal to have a multi-use stadium in Boston that would involve ice hockey, baseball, football.
[Crowd cheering] Announcer: Deep to right field!
Coffin, voice-over: But then the Impossible Dream happened, 1967 season.
And it really reinvigorated people towards Fenway Park, and they remembered why they loved it in the first place.
Announcer: And the Red Sox have won it!
[Loud cheering] Boy: I think the Red Sox doing good this year, and I thought they were gonna come in last place.
Stout: All of a sudden, you had a new generation of fans come to Fenway Park because the team was winning, and the bleachers were full, and it was a cool place to be.
[Cheering] Johnson: Carl Yastrzemski had the greatest single season any New England athlete has ever had in any sport.
Announcer: Rohr winds.
Here it comes... Johnson: He did everything to win games in 1967.
Announcer: And he dives and makes an outstanding catch!
Nowlin: It took him a while to come out of the Ted Williams, uh, shadow, so to speak, but '67, he became a legend himself.
He was the--the guy for a whole generation-plus of baseball fans that followed the team.
He's got a record album of songs devoted to him.
Wright: We had the album.
♪ Carl Yastrzemski, Carl Yastrzemski ♪ ♪ Da da da da ♪ Interviewer: ♪ The man they call Yaz ♪ Oh, yeah.
♪ The man they call Yaz ♪ Singer: ♪ Carl Yastrzemski, Carl Yastrzemski ♪ ♪ Carl Yastrzemski, the man they call Yaz ♪ ♪ We love him, Carl Yastrzemski ♪ ♪ Carl Yastrzemski, Carl Yastrzemski ♪ ♪ What power he has, Ohh, Carl... ♪ Ryan: It was the greatest fan experience I've ever had.
I went to 27 games, most notably October 1 of '67... Announcer: Well hit to left!
Ryan: the game on the last day of the season for the pennant against the Twins.
Nowlin: I was here with my younger sister.
Had standing room only, but as we got into the 8th inning, I said, "Let's inch down a little closer."
We got down pretty close to the field.
Wright: I was in junior high, Francis Wyman Junior High in Burlington.
And they brought us into the auditorium, and we listened to the game in the auditorium.
That's--I mean, that's how powerful the thing is, not even seeing it!
500 people listening.
Announcer: Little soft pop up.
Petrocelli will take it!
The ball game is over!
The Red Sox win it.
Nowlin: When Rico Petrocelli caught that ball for the final out, I jumped over the railing and out on the field, got out to the mound in time to pat Jim Lonborg on the back.
Announcer: They're just mobbing Jim Lonborg.
And what excitement we have here at Fenway Park.
Man: I start getting pushed away to the foul pole out in right field, and I was having so much fun that, "This is great!"
And then all of a sudden, you know, my hat's getting ripped off, my shirt's getting pulled out from underneath me, and I said, "I don't want to be here anymore."
Announcer: The stands are just unloading.
They're out on the field to grab their hero.
Nowlin: There were fans going berserk.
There were people climbing up the netting behind home plate up towards the broadcast booth.
People went out to the scoreboard.
They were ripping the numbers off the scoreboard.
[Cheering] Johnson: I mean, they hadn't won a pennant since 1946!
So, a full generation had passed since they'd even come close to doing this, and here we had it.
Announcer: What can I say?
7 for 8 in the final 2 biggest games of your life.
You're too much!
I was trying the best I could, Don, and, uh... Wright: It's like you're related.
You're somehow related, like it's a relative somehow.
I don't know how.
You--you're connected to the team and emotionally invested, and it's just magical when they break through.
Stout: They didn't just save the Red Sox.
They also saved Fenway Park.
No one was talking about tearing down Fenway much anymore.
[Cheering] Ryan: From that point on, this is the place to be.
This ballpark became a shrine.
Announcer: Now 1 out from victory, Gibson makes a supreme effort, and Scott strikes out.
The Cardinals win.
They're the new world champions.
Nowlin: The fact that the Red Sox lost the World Series-- I can't say it didn't matter, but it was just so triumphant to have won the pennant after such a long drought, that they gave a good fight in the World Series, and they didn't win.
So, OK, we'll win next year.
Announcer over P.A.
: Now for the Boston Red Sox... Rubenstein, voice-over: But next year was always next year for the fans at Fenway Park, suffering for decade after decade under their peculiar curse.
Announcer: Number 70... Wright: '75, I was 19 years old.
I was a college student, and I waited outside for World Series tickets overnight for 19 hours.
I waited, and I bought 2 to the 6th game.
And I took my younger brother, but we were up--standing room, third base, and then to be there on that night, it's like burned in our minds.
Announcer: Bottom of the 12th inning.
6 runs, 14 hits, no errors for Cincinnati.
6 runs, 9 hits, 1 error for Boston.
And Fisk will lead it off.
He's been on base 3 times.
MacMullan: My friend Janice loved Carlton Fisk, wanted to marry him, you know, just huge crush on Carlton Fisk.
We're doing this.
You know, he's doing this.
We're doing it with him.
And then you didn't know.
From the call, you didn't know.
So..."If it stays fair..." [Bat hits ball] Announcer: There it goes, a long drive.
If it stays fair... home run!
[Cheering] Wright: Unbelievable, just unbelievable.
Everyone like, uh, floating, just floating.
Announcer: We will have a 7th game in this 1975 World Series.
Abelman: I remember me and my best friend Kenny, we were going nuts, wrestling around.
We thought the World Series was over.
Announcer: We're tied 3-3 in the 9th inning.
[Cheering and whistling] There's a looper.
It may drop.
It's in for a hit.
Here comes the throw to third.
Rose hits the dirt.
And there goes Morgan down to second.
And the Reds have the lead 4-3.
Fred Lynn: I can see that pitch.
And when Morgan gets that bloop hit...
I have dreams about it still to this day, where I'm running and running and I'm just, like, going through molasses, and I can't quite get there and I can't quite get there.
Ooh, I wake up, and I'm all sweaty.
Announcer: There's a high fly ball.
It should be all over.
And Cincinnati has won the world championship, beating the Boston Red Sox 4-3.
The Reds... Announcer: Everybody knows what Kenmore Square would have been like if the Red Sox had won, but they didn't; they lost.
It seems obvious that people simply don't prepare well enough for failure as they do for success, even if the failure is only in a game.
Rubenstein, voice-over: But Boston's most agonizing failures were constantly doled out by the New York Yankees, as the bigger city instilled a permanent inferiority complex on its little brother 240 miles away.
Abelman: They were the archenemy.
They were the, you know, the evil empire.
We hated them.
I hated--ha ha!
Do you know what I mean?
Like, I still--to this day, just with every fiber of my being, I just hate them.
I really do, because they always beat us!
Beat the crap out of us!
I just hate the Yankees so much.
Announcer: And it's getting hot today... Man: We really hated each other.
We fought with them all the time, all the time.
Announcer: To the opposite field and a base hit.
Man: It was pretty intense.
And it didn't take much to light that powder keg.
Announcer: Let's see.
He holds onto it.
Does he hold onto it?
And we have a fight!
Here they go [indistinct].
And the benches empty.
[Crowd shouting] [Booing] Bill Lee is hurt.
Bill Lee is lying on the first-base line, and he is hurt.
Couple of Yankee ballplayers jumped on him.
Lee: I lose balance.
Nettles hits me immediately, dumps me on my acromioclavicular joint.
I get a class 2 separation.
My arm is dead.
Announcer: Bill Lee is now going over to a couple of the Yankees, and here they go again!
[Crowd shouting] Lee: Here's Graig Nettles.
That's Graig Nettles' baseball card.
He's been up against the right cheek of my ass for 52 years.
It's like a sled dog in Alaska, the smell and the view never improve for that son of a bitch.
Announcer: Now it is Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent.
2 outs and 2 on, the Red Sox lead at 2-0 in the 7th inning here at Fenway.
Lynn: Bucky, he could get some hits, but he never did any real damage.
Announcer: Deep to left!
Yastrzemski will not get it.
It's a home run!
[Cheering] A 3-run home run for Bucky Dent, and the Yankees now lead it by a score of 3-2.
Lynn: It's a scraper.
If it's 310, it went 311.
You know, it was just one of those that just crawled over.
It's like, "Oh, my God."
Announcer: Yankees 5 runs, 8 hits.
Red Sox 4 runs on 11.
That might be it!
Nettles over at third base.
He'll squeeze it, and it's over.
Yastrzemski fouls out to Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles, and look at those Yankees.
They have come here in Boston, and they have beat the Red Sox again.
The final score, the Yankees 5, the Red Sox 4.
MacMullan: And my dad was born and raised in Queens, a lifelong Yankees fan.
So, my dad and I would bet on the games.
And I'd thought that was the year.
I thought that was gonna be it, and I was like, "Man!"
You know, of course, my dad loved to rub it in.
Johnson: The foreboding feeling that every year was gonna be Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, that sort of settled in after the Bucky Dent game.
That's the first time I was really starting to feel the weight of what you had taken on back then, as a Red Sox fan.
Vin Scully: Calvin Schiraldi trying to finish off the Mets and the 1986 baseball season.
Man: I was in the sixth grade at the Timilty School in the South End, Lower Roxbury.
And we lived and died in every game, every pitch.
'86 was, to me, what '67 was to the elders or '75 was to the generation after them.
The '86 season, we're all in.
Scully: And that's hit to dead center, with Henderson gonna run it down.
And the Mets are down to their last out.
Adams: We're one out away from something happening that everybody in the city has waited to see since 1918.
Scully: And Roger Clemens hoping for that last out.
Shaughnessy: Parents are waking up infants so they will see this, they will witness this history.
"You're gonna see the Red Sox win the World Series.
"Didn't do it in Grandma or Grandpa's lifetime.
You're gonna see it."
Scully: Lined into left field.
Base hit for Carter, and the Mets are still alive.
Man: So it's just me and my brother in the small den in our condo in Brookline.
Once it got to 2 outs, we said, like, "How are we gonna celebrate?"
So we decided, the two of us, we stood up on the top of the couch up against the wall, watching the TV.
We said, "When the ball is going into the glove "for the final out, like, let's jump off together "in celebration, and we won't be connected to this Earth.
We'll remember it forever."
Scully: And that's gonna be hit into center field, base hit.
Here comes Carter to score, and the tying run is at third in Kevin Mitchell.
MacMullan: So I went down to the clubhouse, and rolling in the champagne and the ice, and I'm watching all this.
And this is like, this amazing thing.
But I'm like, "Gosh.
They were-- they were in the final inning."
Like, "What is taking so long?"
Scully: And it's gonna go to the backstop.
Here comes Mitchell to score the tying run, and Ray Knight is at second base.
3 and 2 to Mookie Wilson.
Little roller up along first.
Behind the bag!
It gets through Buckner!
Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!
[Crowd cheering] Stout: From my apartment in the South End, I had a window open.
And when that happened, I could hear people yelling and moaning and crying.
Epstein: We were up on the couch.
And we just collapsed, just writhing around in emotional pain, life-changing, scarring, emotional pain.
MacMullan: Certainly at that point, you're realizing, "Man, they're just never gonna win.
They're never gonna win."
Shaughnessy: Not only do they not win, they have these colossal screw-ups at the end, where they come close.
They take you to the edge, and then they blow it.
These things just keep happening over and over.
Your heart was broken every year, and--and we all kind of went around the campfire and talked about our broken hearts, and then we sucked it up and we came back for another year.
Adams: I finally understood what it meant and what it felt like for, like, my teachers and all the elders in the neighborhood who talked about the '67 team and the '75 team.
The Red Sox will break your heart, you know?
Like, it happened to me at a young age.
Joe Buck: Two starts, two wins for Wells as Ortiz gets into one to right.
This one is at the wall and gone.
David Ortiz greets David Wells with a first-pitch home run to right.
MacMullan: I was there again in 2003.
They're gonna win.
They're gonna beat the Yankees.
They're going to the World Series.
I called my father, you know, in the seventh or eighth inning, and he said, "Oh, dear.
You haven't learned anything."
And he said, "You're gonna owe me a dollar."
And I'm like, "Not this time, Dad."
Announcer: Well, we're tied at 5-5 as we go to the bottom of the 11th.
Here's Aaron Boone to lead off, his first at-bat of the game.
There's a fly ball deep to left!
It's on its way!
There it goes!
And the Yankees are going to the World Series!
Aaron Boone has hit a home run!
The Yankees go to the World Series for the 39th time in their remarkable history!
MacMullan: And, of course, it all goes to hell, and I gotta pay my dad a dollar.
So I sent him four quarters in an envelope.
I was just like, "This is just ridiculous.
[Indistinct chatter] Rubenstein, voice-over: As much as I love baseball, I have to remember that the game is intertwined with American history, both the good parts and the bad.
Man: What do we want?
What do we want?
Rubenstein, voice-over: Over the past decade, there has been an important reckoning with the history of racial injustice in our country, including Fenway Park and its longtime owner Tom Yawkey.
I spoke with acclaimed author Howard Bryant to try to understand how the supposed curse that haunts Fenway Park may have nothing to do with Babe Ruth at all.
The Red Sox were the last team in baseball to integrate.
In 1959, the Red Sox hired their first African-American player, Pumpsie Green.
Was that because the owners didn't really want to integrate, or was it just happenstance?
Well, it's never happenstance.
It was never happenstance.
It was deliberate.
The Red Sox didn't integrate, because the Red Sox didn't want to integrate, and they weren't alone.
Let's remember that the number of teams that really embraced integration was one, and it was the Dodgers.
In 1945, the Red Sox have a chance to integrate.
Then April 16, 1945, they bring in 3 players.
They bring in Marvin Williams, Sam Jethroe, and Jackie Robinson.
And they did it because they were being pressured to do it.
They were pressured by Isadore Muchnick, the Boston City councilor, who threatened to revoke their license to play Sunday baseball.
So they were pressured to even have Jackie Robinson on the field.
The players hit a few balls and the manager, Joe Cronin, thanked them for coming, and the Red Sox never contacted them again.
Jackie Robinson never heard from the Red Sox after that date.
Rubenstein: And what about Willie Mays?
Did Willie Mays have a chance to ever play at the Red Sox?
The Red Sox had a line on Willie Mays before anybody else in 1948, when Mays was 17 years old, and Willie told me that, as a teenager, he went and told all of his friends that the Red Sox were coming down to look at him and that he was going to the major leagues as a member of the Red Sox.
But I remember speaking with him and him telling me point-blank that-- that it was Tom Yawkey that didn't want him, that the Red Sox didn't want him.
Rubenstein: So do you think Tom Yawkey was racist, or you just think he was not willing to-- Of course Tom Yawkey was a racist.
There's no reason to have this debate.
His resume is on the field.
MacMullan: I was happy when some of that came out and when some of that had to be addressed, and I know it was uncomfortable at times for people, but too bad.
You know, you can't have this beloved franchise and not address the really huge smudge over all of it.
You know, the Red Sox have a shameful past with respect to race relations.
We were the last team to integrate.
And that is something that-- that we live with forever.
I think it's important to acknowledge it.
And the last 20 years, we've tried to make sure that Fenway is welcoming to all of Boston, all of New England, all of the world.
Rubenstein: In the end, do you think anything had to do with the city of Boston?
The city of Boston was not really pushing integration in the baseball team, or it was really Yawkey himself?
Well, it's all the above.
Boston's a tough place.
I grew up here.
I was born here.
And...it's not a welcoming place.
When I was a kid, it was not a welcoming place.
You wouldn't know that there were Black people from Boston based on how this city has marketed its own.
Reporter: Back then, 1983, there were no Black families in this or any Southie project.
Four years later, there are still no Black families in South Boston projects.
Shaughnessy: The city of Boston has always been kind of a tribal, parochial, provincial.
You know, East Boston's the Italian people, the North End's the Italian people, and the Irish are in Southie and Black people in Roxbury.
And that doesn't change.
As much as I love the Red Sox, I never thought as a kid of going-- actually going to Fenway Park, because I figured that I would probably face some type of racism or prejudice or hear the hard-r n-word, you know.
And as a kid, that probably would have crushed me, being such a fan of baseball.
Bryant: At the end of the day, the thing that you always have to remember is that there are beating hearts to this.
We're talking about people who really, really wanted to enjoy this and didn't get a chance to.
And that's the reason why the Red Sox are so important to this region, and that's also why they carry such a heavy burden.
What really separates the Red Sox was the fact that even after integration, the Red Sox still didn't sign Black players.
The Boston Red Sox did not sign a Black free agent until 1992.
The Red Sox's unwillingness to sign Black players, there's your curse.
You get players, you win.
Rubenstein, voice-over: When the Henry Group, led by John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino, bought Fenway Park and the Red Sox in 2001, they paid $660 million.
At the time, I remember thinking, "That's crazy."
But those guys knew what they were doing, because Fenway Park and the Red Sox are now worth almost $5 billion.
Kennedy: When we arrived in 2002, there was a big question about the preservation, the protection, the enhancement of Fenway Park.
Should we do that, or should we move downtown?
I think the Yawkey Trust had really come to the conclusion that we should tear Fenway down.
But there was an incredible grassroots movement that worked to keep Fenway here, the Save Fenway Park movement.
Nowlin: The Save Fenway Park movement grew up and played a significant role in literally saving the ballpark.
Woman: Larry called me, and he said, "Look, we might be crazy, "but John, Tom, and I think we can save this ballpark."
And they were the only one of the groups that bid on the club who wanted to save Fenway Park.
Everyone else saw it as a real estate play.
So you're the famous person who redesigned Fenway Park.
I don't know about that, but--ha ha!
So where are we now?
We're in Jersey Street?
Jersey Street, yes.
And this is right adjoining Fenway Park?
Yep, right at the front door.
And you're responsible for closing this down right before the games?
Well, with a lot of other folks.
So what did you do when you were told you're gonna redevelop-- or rehabilitate Fenway Park?
What did you say?
You say, "It's impossible.
Let's just tear it down and build a new one" or not?
I said, "I can't wait.
Let's do it!"
You know, people always say, "Did you renovate Fenway?"
But the truth of the matter is we took a lot of things that the Red Sox owned, and we just used them differently.
We were looking for space.
It was like Larry Lucchino used to say: "We're fighting for inches."
And that's the way we felt about it.
Like, everywhere, we were looking for space.
So we took a concourse that was about 20 feet wide and turned it into 60 feet wide.
You can see there is an alley between the garage and Fenway Park.
So we had to get permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to erase the alley so that we could just grow into this building.
Anytime you see a white column, you're in the Jeano Building, and this would have been a brick wall right across there.
So that's Fenway Park, and this is the Jeano Building.
Rubenstein: And what was the Jeano Building used for?
It was originally built as an auto showroom.
So I'll tell you some other fun things about this, because I could go on and on, but I'm gonna tell you some fun things about it.
So when we first started working here, the bleachers were their own section.
Smith, voice-over: And we built all these things in the offseason.
I couldn't wait to pull the curtain back and see how fans reacted.
And so I stayed out there that first game and kind of listened to fans walking by, and my favorite comment was from this guy who says, "You know, they've painted this whole thing since I was here last," and you thought, "Well, that's victory, right?"
Because we didn't want it to look like it was this major intrusion.
We wanted it to feel like it was part of your grandfather's Fenway Park.
Rubenstein: So these are the famous Green Monster seats?
Smith: These are the famous Green Monster seats.
Man on P.A.
: Batting cleanup, the shortstop, number 2...
So we tried really hard when we did the work here at Fenway to let the building tell its own story of the games that it's been home to and the players it's been home to.
A building that's 110 years old, it's got a lot of stories to tell.
So what do you think the chances are a ball is gonna hit here?
Like, probably 1 in 1,000?
[Crowd cheering] Wait a second.
I got... Rubenstein, voice-over: I knew I should have brought my baseball glove to the game.
Maybe next time.
[Cheering and applause] Adams: 2004, I was working the overnight shift at CVS and on Beacon Hill, and I was still entrenched deeply in the Red Sox and heavily invested that this was going to be the year.
2004, we got it.
We had everything necessary to finally usurp the evil empire.
Buck: Here's the 2-0.
Millar flies to center.
Bernie Williams is there, and the Yankees win it, a final of 19-8.
And the Yankees have pounded their way to a 3 games to none lead in this ALCS.
Adams: After that loss, everybody was just like, "There's no way, there's no way.
"This is even worse than last year because they might get swept out of here."
People are throwing stuff at the players, they're throwing stuff at Francona.
It is a bleep show.
I wrote on the front page of the next day's "Globe": There it is.
"For the 86th consecutive year, the Red Sox are not going to win the World Series."
Johnny Damon: Hey, long live the idiots, bro.
Rubenstein, voice-over: Boston prides itself on being smart, but sometimes it takes a bunch of idiots to break a curse.
Damon: We don't think.
If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team.
[Laughter] MacMullan: Those so-called idiots, they just instilled something that was different, you know, that you didn't feel before those guys got there.
There was an irreverence to them that that team needed.
Buck: A lead-off walk.
And there's life for the Red Sox.
A pinch runner, Dave Roberts, is gonna come in for Boston.
He can run.
Rubenstein, voice-over: I don't follow baseball like I did when I was a kid, but even I know about the Dave Roberts stolen base.
Man: The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Beantown nine that night, down three games to none, ninth inning, end in sight, so to that stricken multitude ignominy beckoned, then pinch runner Roberts made a dash for second.
Buck: Roberts is going.
Posada's throw... McCarney: I'd like EKG readings on everyone in the city of Boston as soon as he left that base.
Buck: Roberts is going.
Roberts... Flavin: The catcher came up throwing.
Jeter raced to take the ball.
The play was close.
Buck: Posada's throw.
Flavin: Safe was the umpire's call.
Tim McCarver: Good call.
Flavin: What happened next will be retold for years in baseball lore, for that theft sparked a comeback unheard of before.
Into deep right field.
Back is Sheffield.
We'll see you later tonight.
[Cheering] McCarney: If someone had come to me, if the gods of baseball had come to me at the end of 2003, the ALCS, as the Yankees are walking off the field and said, "How can we make this better?
What can we do to make this right?"
Buck: Ortiz fights it off.
Game six, tomorrow night.
McCarney: I would have said, "I want the Yankees to go up three games on us, and then I want to come back and win all four."
Buck: Red Sox force game seven.
McCarney: And I want to win that last one in Yankee Stadium.
Announcer: Swing and a ground ball to second base.
Pokey Reese has it.
He throws to first, and the Red Sox have won the American League pennant.
McCarney: And the fact that it happened, that's the most amazing thing in Red Sox history to me.
It's the wildest revenge fantasy, and it actually happened.
David Ortiz: Did the ####ing thing.
We're going like gangster... [indistinct].
[Cheering] MacMullan: To me, it was almost like, "I hope they win the World Series, but this is already the greatest thing that ever happened."
Of course, I got a dollar from my dad.
That didn't hurt.
MacMullan: So my dad died about three weeks ago.
And near the end of his life, you know, he was in and out.
And one of the days I was there, I said, "I know you love the Yankees."
And I said, "But thank you for taking me to all those Red Sox games."
He kind of opened his eyes and said, "I hate the Red Sox."
I said, "I know, Dad.
Buck: 0-2 on Edmonds.
The Red Sox are one out away.
Gammons: In the ninth inning, when it was evident in game four in St. Louis, they were winning, I thought a lot about my father, who the last time I saw alive, said to my brother and me, "Sometime in your lifetime, you'll see the Red Sox win."
So they did.
Keith Foulke: Once I kind of had it and I kind of started to first, you know, I started to flip it, and I had that quick thought, "Ooh, don't screw this up."
So I took another little step and a little pump and, you know, when I'd let it go, it's like that's when everything just kind of disappeared.
Buck: Red Sox fans have longed to hear it.
The Boston Red Sox are world champions.
[Cheering and applause] Adams: I screamed at the top of my lungs as an adult.
And I'm just like, "Finally!
in the break room in the bowels of the CVS at 155-157 Charles Street.
Burr: I remember coming out of a bar just hammered.
Red Sox fans, just disbelief, just hugging each other.
It was just, it was over.
That's all I remembered.
I just remembered it was over.
To the greatest Red Sox team ever assembled.
[Cheering] Ortiz, voice-over: It was amazing, it was a great accomplishment, especially the way we did it, you know?
And, uh, it was fun, man.
It was fun.
That's a nice pic.
It looked like I was taking it all.
Look at that.
[Chuckles] That was a big ol' bottle.
[Cheering] Foulke: When we rolled out of here and you start going down the street and you're like, "What is going on?"
There are literally 3 million, 4 million, 5 million people here.
They're 50-75 people deep.
I mean, the most unbelievable thing I have ever been part of.
♪ ♪ Adams: There were people, like, hugging tombstones and leaving Red Sox hats and leaving, like, the box score.
Like, "They finally did it, Dad."
"They finally did it, Mom."
And that's something I'm-- never going to experience that again, you know?
Like, it was a special time, one for the ages.
[Indistinct announcements over P.A.]
Rubenstein, voice-over: Everyone across America, including me, heard about the Red Sox finally breaking the curse, but that joy was sadly replaced nine years later by unimaginable horror and heartache less than a mile from Fenway Park.
[Explosion] [Screaming] Adams: We hear these noises go off.
And we're like, "What is that?"
We see people run by.
Then we see people walking by with blood on them.
And then I start hearing ambulances.
I'm like, What the hell is going on?
Officer: All the way out.
All the way out.
Come on... MacMullan: It just was so devastating to not feel safe in this place that always was the safest place.
Kenmore Square, Red Sox.
It just shook everybody to the core.
It really, really did.
[Applause] Ortiz: All right.
All right, Boston.
Rubenstein, voice-over: Fenway fans gathered for communal healing after this unspeakable tragedy.
That's when David Ortiz became a Boston legend.
Ortiz: This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox.
It say Boston.
This is our ####ing city.
[Cheering] And nobody gonna dictate our freedom.
[Cheering and applause continues] Ortiz, voice-over: I was angry just like everybody else.
Forget about the Red Sox, forget about baseball.
It was the citizen talking, speaking, you know?
It was just what I feel like.
I also have to give credit to every citizen in this city, because, I mean, once you go through something like that, you know, your mind-set is different, sometime even make you quit, and no one did that around here, you know.
Announcer: Koji ready.
He turns on the rubber.
The 2-2 home.
Swing and a miss.
He struck him out!
The 2013 Red Sox are the world champions and Boston Strong!
Bedlam at Fenway Park as the Red Sox clinch the World Series at Fenway for the first time in 95 years!
This Red Sox team helping to guide Boston out of the despair of the Marathon tragedy in April to the ultimate joy of winning the World Series six months later.
MacMullan: I think David Ortiz, he's the most beloved Red Sox player of all time.
Nobody was more beloved than Big Papi.
Adams: We knew that the culture had kind of changed in Boston, because for one of the first times, the guy that the hood and the neighborhoods embrace is the guy that Boston embraced fully and wholly.
Like, he's the face of the franchise, He's the face of the team, is Big Papi.
You know, that's the guy--David Ortiz.
McCarney: I think it says a lot for how the team has evolved, how the city has evolved when you think that two of the most memorable players who will go down in Red Sox history will be David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez.
I think that speaks volumes to how the team has changed, how the fan base has changed, and how the ownership has changed as well.
I think the Henry Group, they've done something that was incredibly important, and that is they made every person who wanted to come to this ballpark to watch a baseball game able to do so and feel welcome to do so.
That's a really big deal.
Announcer: Sale winds.
Swing and a miss!
The Red Sox have won the world championship!
Rubenstein, voice-over: When I was a kid, the Red Sox never won.
Now they can't stop winning.
I guess the curse has finally been exorcised.
MacMullan: I used to say to my kids, "You kids are spoiled rotten.
Everybody wins in your lifetime."
Because that's just not how it went in Boston at that time.
Shaughnessy: Under this ownership, they've won four World Series in a century.
No one else has done that, so it's pretty sweet times around here.
It's really throwing me off my game, you know, to have them as these perennial winners now.
You know, it's just not used to it.
[Indistinct conversations] Rubenstein, voice-over: In recent decades, most of the legendary ballparks have been demolished.
Even "the house that Ruth built" was bulldozed in 2009.
But Fenway Park endures as a living, breathing shrine to the game of baseball.
Stout: You don't have to be a huge Red Sox fan to want to go to Fenway.
In fact, Fenway Park is the number-one tourist attraction in Boston.
Woman: So again, it's 37'2" tall, 231 feet all the way across.
Stout: You get people coming from China, and they ask them, "Where do you want to go?"
They want to see Fenway Park.
You can't put a price tag on that.
McCarney: There are monuments throughout this country that you have to preserve.
This is one of them.
This must be preserved.
This is Fenway Park.
Lynn: The history of the game is right here.
This place should never be touched.
Put some paint on it.
[Chuckles] Put another scoreboard or some other thing up there, but leave the rest of it alone.
Rubenstein, voice-over: Fenway Park survives after 111 years as the foremost symbol of the game we love and the American values it reflects: family, community, loyalty, and the unbreakable spirit of baseball fans.
I hope it survives another 111 years, or at least long enough for me to hit one over the Monster.