Behind the scenes with children's book author-illustrator Matt Tavares
Today is a special day in the history of the olde towne team. Fenway turns 100. The 2012 season has not gotten off to a great start. The Sox appear to be following the script they began writing last fall but that is not what today or this celebration is all about. This day is about the love of a ballpark with all its flaws. It is about memories and family. I am thinking today of the first time I visited the Park in 1962, 50 years ago. I was 13 years old and it was an unplanned visit that my parents decided to give me I guess because they loved me. We were returning home from a vacation and passing through Boston when I heard there was a game that night. I begged my parents to take me. So that night, my Mom and Dad took me and my three other siblings to this storied ballpark. We were part of a crowd that was less than 6,000 fans that night. The Sox lost that game like they did 83 other times that year resulting in an 8th place finish in the American League. But that year a love affair was born from the moment this youngster walked up a ramp from the right field side and saw the greenest grass he ever saw and the gigantic Green Monster. The players Tillman, Bressoud, Clinton, Wilson, Radatz,and a youngster who was nicknamed Yaz became my heroes. My parents have both passed now but I can still remember the night they took me to my first Red Sox game and the sacrifice they made to make that happen. I must thank John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino for all the positive upgrades they have made to bring this ballpark into the new century.With all the new additions they have kept the true spirit of Fenway alive.It is comforting that the old red metal donation box for the Jimmy Fund is still found in the concourse. I remember how when you had bleacher tickets, it was like being a steerage passenger on the Titanic. You were literally locked out from the rest of the ball park.Sure there were warts and there still are on this grand old lady of baseball but it makes the place even more special in my mind. I have sat in the box seats, the grandstands, the bleachers including the very last row in the bleachers under the video scoreboard, and I have had standing room and have loved every moment of being in that oasis that is Fenway. Thank you Mom and Dad, you started me out on a great love affair.
Wow, great story Donald. Thanks for sharing it. I agree, I think all the changes they've made have made it so much nicer, while keeping the spirit of the ballpark intact.
Thanks Matt, I did an interview with you several years ago about your book Zachary's Ball for Red Sox Nation. After my family and I enjoyed that book we donated it our local elementary school so hundred's of other could enjoy it also.
Matt - Loved your visit to the West in Wilmington! Look forward to seeing you at other schools soon!My Fenway memory was going to a game with my dad and sitting along the third base side. The Red Sox against the Orioles - Red Sox won. Just loved being there with my dad- just the two of us! A great day!
Thanks Terri! I had a great day in Wilmington.
I am such a huge fan of your work. I am a school librarian and use your books all the time. We talk about nostalgia and imagination, dreams and the amazing things you can do with a pencil. I will admit that baseball is not my favorite sport, although my husband of 35 years and I spent a bunch of time at Fenway while we were dating - me faithfully taking down statistics. That doesn't keep me from pouring over your illustrations and loving the magic of your stories.
Thanks! I'm honored.
Just getting our 3 yr old twin boys ready for today's game and for creating some new Fenway Park memories! Too bad the boys are too young for the baseball party at the Wenham museum tomorrow otherwise we would catch you there for your signing tomorrow!
Ooh, I'm jealous. have a blast at the game. And you should bring your kids to the museum tomorrow! Just say they're 4! :)
Matt, Your books have become such classics in our school library in Carlisle. Seems like we have been reading our signed copy of Zachary's Ball for years now on the week of Opening Day. We will definitely need to have you come back again soon. Sandy
3rd base line just after the photographers and about 7 rows up. Nice birthday gifts for my brother and I. After a couple hours of rain the sun came out and got to watch a win the year they won it all. The best part was the family time, mom, dad, my brother and me. I was able to get some great pictures too.
This is a great idea! love it, and your illustrations are wonderful. I am a big baseball fan, always followed the Jays (I am from Toronto so grew up watching them), and married a Red Sox fan. So for the past 14 years we've both been cheering both teams on! We plan to go to Fenway when our kids are old enough to sit through a game, I've never been, and look forward to it very much! What a stadium! We might even make it a wedding anniversary trip, can't think of a better way to celebrate 10 years then with a great game! Celeste
Matt, so excited to read this book - haven't had a chance yet... But your others are bedtime favorites at our house. My son is desperate to get to a game at Fenway - maybe this year. My favorite Fenway memory is actually the game we took my brother to. As a Baltimore native and Red Sox fan, the look on his face as we walked to our seats was priceless. Only ever seen him that happy on his wedding day. :-)
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Would love to win this... even though we already have a copy that you have signed, it would be even more precious to have that very cool drawing of Fenway Park... it's such a special place! Thanks very much for this wonderful opportunity.
Happy memories of a visit to Fenway the year of the baseball strike--just made it before the strike--long time ago! Thanks for all your good work!Cathy Bonnell
Being a native of Boston, Fenway has many special memories. But one special memory is hanging out on the corner of Lansdown street selling "Green Monster" sweats and t-shirts as a teenager. The energy of the city, excitement of the game and the smell of italian sausages!! Life was good!!
I just got around to picking the winner to the book giveaway and it is... Kat Lynch (she entered on twitter). Thanks everyone for entering and sharing your awesome Fenway stories.