The Green Monster spoke for the first time last Saturday night in Boston. He stood in his familiar spot, back toward Lansdowne Street and the parking garages and nightclubs, front toward the green carpet of Fenway Park, and broke his 91-year silence by talking to Orioles leftfielder B.J. Surhoff.
"B.J.," the Green Monster said, "You're a loosah."
The Orioles were in the midst of a 13-6 win over the Red Sox in the twice-postponed local home opener, so there was an obvious misstatement of fact—a problem, alas, long associated with other voices from other parts of Fenway, usually concerning the dietary choices and sexual habits of the imperial Yankees—but the words were filled with unmistakable local passion and touched by unmistakable local dialect. The Monster finally fit in with the rest of the old ballpark.
"B.J.... B.J.... B.J....," shouted one of two young ironworkers, again and again, face red, muscle in his neck bulging, beers spread across the newly installed shelf in front of one of the 280 newly installed seats atop the 37-foot-tall famous leftfield wall. 'You're a loosah!" his friend occasionally added.
The view from the new seats was terrific. Built as part of a $20 million stadium renovation and part of an ongoing process to find every revenue opportunity to make Fenway (capacity 34,898) financially feasible in the 21st century, the cantilevered addition yields a perspective close to what the centerfield camera gives TV viewers. What could be better than watching a ball game from a short porch?
Fans in the first of three rows hang over the action, sitting closer to home plate than outfielders stand in most ballparks. The activities of the leftfielder are obscured in the last two rows, and the row of standing room, which gives those fans a will-it, won't-it drama with each fly ball to left, as they wait to see if the ball will land among the paying customers, be caught or clank into play.
The seats, $50 apiece and sold out for the year, weren't scheduled to be used until April 29, but around-the-clock construction had them ready for Opening Day. "We worked seven days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day, for 20 straight weeks," construction supervisor Peter Leyden says of his more than 220 workers. "It was a brutal winter. Driving the pilings 55 feet into the ground, if the gas on the pile driver ran out, water would come in and freeze the hole in the time it took to replace the gas."
"Guys who liked baseball were really into it," carpenter Mike Twomey says. "Even the guys who don't were talking about Nomar this and Nomar that. We'd say, 'Shut up.' "
On Saturday the construction crews, who'd been honored on the field before the game, had tickets in the new section—a gift from the Red Sox, who also provided commemorative sweatshirts (I BUILT THE GREEN MONSTER SEATS), free food and beer. The construction workers provided the new voice. "I could hear them," Surhoff said after the game. "Sure, I could hear them."
In the 1950s the Red Sox sometimes closed off the seats along the leftfield line when the temperamental Ted Williams played so he wouldn't have to hear the nasty voices directed at him. What would he have done with this new voice from behind and over his head? What will current multimillionaire leftfielder Manny Ramirez hear in the likely event that he doesn't run out a ground ball or two? What will the long succession of visiting leftfielders after Mr. Surhoff hear?