When I stop to think about ancestral places, a spot on the earth where I know my forefathers walked before me, a place where I can still see what they saw, feel what they felt, connect with my past, only one place comes to mind.
The O'Donnell side of the family hails from Boston. Of the six siblings, my father is the only one who ventured far from the nest. He joined the USAF at age 18 or 19 and never looked back. That decision cost me my chance to be a New Englander and all that goes with it. Even though we've spent plenty of time in the Boston area visiting, I've never felt like one of them. I don't have the accent or the point of view of the folks that hail from Boston. Boston was never home to me.
Fenway Park is different. I feel connected to the past there. My great grandfather attended games there. He almost certainly saw Babe Ruth, Cy Young and the greats of that era. My grandfather would have seen some of that era too. My father, growing up in post WWII Boston, would have seen Ted Williams, Dom Dimaggio, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky play. I never lived in Boston, but most summers he was stationed in the states included a trip to Boston and a game at Fenway was always on the agenda. My Red Sox heroes were guys like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, and Bernie Carbo. My kids have been to Fenway too, making them the 5th generation of O'Donnells to see a game there. Posters of Nomar, Manny, and Pedro grace the walls of my son's bedroom.
The stadium itself has not changed much since Babe Ruth patrolled the grounds there. The field dimensions are the same, the stadium layout is pretty much the same, and according the locals, the same family of rats still occupy the bowels of the stadium. (Although I suspect the rat family is several hundred generations old by now - sort of puts my 5 generations to shame).
When I'm at Fenway, I can imagine my father and his father sitting in the same seats enjoying a game, complaining about the Red Sox pitching, bitching about the Yankees, and bemoaning the Red Sox lack of success in the post season.
I guess that would be the unfortunate side of things not changing.
But this year is different. Go Red Sox!