NEW YORK -- They came from all walks and all ages, some wandering in off Broadway and some lucky invitees on the redsox.com email list. It was the people of Red Sox Nation, in the middle of enemy territory, given a rare red-carpet treatment for a day in this city.
There was a boy who was born just before they reversed the curse in 2004, now 8 and already with two Major League Baseball titles under his belt. He sat beside gleaming '04 and '07 World Series trophies. There were gray-haired men and women smiling as they watched with emotion as their heroes were walking out onto the field at their beloved Fenway Park.
Many of them came to the MLB Fan Cave on Friday for a special viewing party, along with the nine resident Cave Dwellers, all of them watching the live telecast of the ceremony and Yankees-Red Sox game to mark the 100th anniversary of Fenway. They toasted for real with Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez and the in-park crowd, and they were able to buy the '47 Brand special Fenway 100 merchandise found at the MLB.com Shop.
"I figured I couldn't get to Boston, so this was the absolute next-best place ... and this is incredible," said Matthew Soberman, a senior majoring in modern entertainment and media a block away at New York University. "I got an email from the redsox.com mailing list just in time, and I shot the email back and I found out Wednesday night that I was invited to this thing. I don't have classes on Friday, and this was a great way to spend a day off.
"It's an incredible milestone, especially with so many ballparks going away. This year is also the 100th anniversary of old Tiger Stadium, and that's not around anymore. Yankee Stadium. Just to see a ballpark go 100 years when teams are changing every 30 or 40 years is incredible. Here's to another 100 years."
Jacob Aizanman of Marblehead, Mass., was among the fans handed a plastic cup of grape juice in advance and invited to toast with fans at Boston between 3 and 3:15 p.m. ET. They heeded the prompt of Millar and Martinez, lifting glasses of grape juice as one.
"What a thrill to be able to take in the tradition of Fenway Park from the MLB Fan Cave," Aizanman said. "The Red Sox are the heart and soul of Boston, and marking the 100-year milestone is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The massive Cave Monster showed everyone the live ceremony, and it was almost as touching for this crowd to watch the introductions as it was for those seeing it firsthand. The loudest ovations from this crowd appeared to go like this, in order: 1. Nomar Garciaparra; 2. Terry Francona; 3. Carl Yastrzemski; 4. Martinez; 5. Bill Buckner; 6. Dennis Eckersley; and 7. Mo Vaughn.
"Boyhood hero," said Mark Yawdoszyn of South Orange, N.J., said as baseball's last Triple Crown winner walked out onto the field amid a roar in the building at Broadway and Fourth Street. "I got Yaz's baseball card when he won a batting title in '67, and that year I became a Red Sox fan. In '67, he was on fire. I was 10. I remember the stretch run and the World Series. We would get to watch it at school sometimes, or we would get out and listen to it on the radio.
"This makes you think back to all the talent they've had."
These members of Red Sox Nation were just the types whose passion caught the eye of twin brothers Arthur and Henry D'Angelo back in 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Those brothers had arrived in Boston from Italy at age 12, and they had found their way as street hustlers. They discovered Fenway Park during their work, and they found that if they cut Red Sox pennants out of felt fabric, Sox fans would buy them.
That led to the "Twins '47" souvenir shop across from Fenway, still an institution there. It merged in 2005 with Banner Supply Company, an apparel brand that focused on creating sports licensed apparel. It is always one of the most popular draws at the MLB.com Shop, especially at holiday shopping time, and Arthur still hangs out at Fenway today.
"We have been managing retail at Fenway park since 1947, and we thought it was appropriate for us to be here and involved at the MLB Fan Cave and showcase our product with all the 100th anniversary logos on it," said Matt Perachi, vice president of '47 Brand, which became the first vendor to have retail space at the Fan Cave -- selling the items to fans invited or not invited. "It's really a great honor for us to be here and really be part of what's going on here today.
"The headwear and apparel [is] built by guys who sold it for a living and really got down to the fan level. It's not your basic, inexpensive T-shirt. It's really a nicer product that we were proud to wear, proud to sell all at the same time."
The only one of the nine Cave Dwellers who has been to Fenway is Eddie Mata, the Yankees fan. He has been there nine times, the latest in 2007, and he usually wears his gray No. 42 Mariano Rivera jersey there. He was OK with a pair of Red Sox trophies and a throng of rival fans surrounding him for one day only.
"I love being booed. It's a great feeling," Mata said. "I'm in their head. I'm surrounded by everyone wearing a red and white shirt right now, all Red Sox fans. But it's their moment. Let them enjoy it."