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Opening Day at Fenway Park celebrates Red Sox history, traditions and fan culture

Red Sox Opening Day at Fenway Park took place Tuesday, hosting the first baseball game in the stadium since late September. Fans pouring into the ballpark were greeted with the 2004 Red Sox championship team to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their World Series win.

“It was exciting to see all those guys who broke the 86-year curse,” said attorney and Red Sox fan David Miller. 

In 1919, the team sold iconic pitcher and slugger Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. From then on, the “Curse of the Bambino” seemed to have sworn the team to years of unraveling –– that is, until the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

After that, the Sox won three more titles in 2007, 2013 and 2018.

“They have an early dynasty, and … it’s hard to talk about them being a dynasty now, but if you look in this century, they have the most World Championships of any team,” Andy Andres, a master lecturer of natural sciences and mathematics at Boston University.

Members of the National Guard line up in front of a banner on the Green Monster commemorating the 2004 Red Sox World Series Championship team on the 20th anniversary of its winning season. ANNIKA MORRIS/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Even so, Miller described the Red Sox’s home opener defeat against the Baltimore Orioles as “disappointing.” 

After right fielder Tyler O’Neill hit a homer in the first inning, the Red Sox could not score again. By the ninth inning, the Orioles soared to seven runs. 

“The team has not been spending enough money to get quality free agents,” Miller said. “They seem like they have a philosophy to be middle market when they have the resources to be big market.”

For the past two seasons in the American League East, the Red Sox ended the season in last place, but Andres expected a respectable outcome for this upcoming season.

Jersey Street is flooded with baseball fans on opening day for the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Despite ending the 2023 season last place in the AL East, Red Sox fans packed the stadium for the home opener against the Baltimore Orioles. HOLLY GUSTAVSEN/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

“They’re in a very tough position, and their division that they play within is very competitive,” Andres said. “So even though the Red Sox will likely be about an 80 to 85 win team, that may not be good enough to make the playoffs this year.”

As fans take the stands and the Red Sox take the field, surrounding businesses and restaurants also gear up for the new season.

“We love Opening Day. We prepared for this for a while,” Jamie Durham, manager at Cask ’N Flagon in Fenway, said. “We had breakfast this morning. We usually don’t open up for breakfast.”

Isaac Debonis, a part-time employee at Union Square Donuts, said its recently-launched Baseball Donut sold out on Opening Day due to a sudden influx of tourists and families flocking to Fenway Park.

In fact, dedicated Red Sox fans travel far to keep up with the tradition of Opening Day. 

Retired machinist Ted Fontaine travels from Maine to Boston three to four times a season to experience the culture. To him and his son, Nick, Fenway Park is a “nostalgic” place.

“Some of the players that [my father] watched and I didn’t see because I’m too young but it’s actually kind of nice to see teams that actually won,” Nick said.

Despite seasonal fluctuations in activity, this sentiment is echoed by many who find a deeper meaning in their association with Fenway. 

Among them is Fenway ambassador Lashawn Streater, who has been working at Fenway for 18 seasons. 

“Everyone has a special story of why they’re here and it’s all genuine,” Streater said. “I don’t know if other baseball teams have rich histories like this one, but that’s what I enjoy the most, hearing everyone’s story.”

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