Parties have become somewhat passé at Fenway Park - success will do that - but nonetheless Friday’s 100th anniversary fete was an affair to remember.
The ballpark’s highly orchestrated centennial celebration, which one imagines has been in the works for months if not years, featured a little bit of everything, from VIP video tributes (yes, even commander in chief Barack Obama checked in with congrats) to a newly composed piece by the Pops (conducted by John Williams, no less) to a parade of Sox alums that included some of the team’s most colorful characters (we’re talking to you, Jose Canseco).
Given how many former ballplayers and assorted boldfacers were in the ballpark, it’s a wonder there was any room for ordinary fans. But there were plenty of them, and many enjoyed the pre-game festivities with a frosty beverage (or two) in hand.
Before the first pitch, as the rank and file were just beginning to filter into Fenway, owner John Henry, with wife Linda Pizzuti, and the rest of the Sox brass hosted a private luncheon in the Royal Rooters Club, the park’s new function space reserved for the baseball equivalent of the One Percent. Guests included celebrity super fans (Lenny Clarke and Alan Dershowitz), blue-chip business types (Jack Connors and Bain Capital’s Steve Pagliuca), and a variety of other familiar faces (former Maine senator George Mitchell and current Massachusetts senators Scott Brown and John Kerry.)
We were told that some of the more famous Sox fans - notably Mike O’Malley, Denis Leary, and Dane Cook - would be in the house, but we didn’t see them. We did spy Pats QB Tom Brady and his supermodel spouse, Gisele Bundchen, watching the action - and occasionally canoodling - in a private suite. (After the game, Tom and Gi stopped by rag & bone on Newbury Street, which threw a little party to celebrate its opening.) GM Ben Cherington’s fiancee Tyler Tumminia, who happens to be a Yankees fan? Nope. Word is she hasn’t been to a game at Fenway this year.
Dershowitz, the celebrated Harvard Law professor who’s been going to Sox games since he arrived in Boston in 1964, marveled at the many improvements made to the venerable ballpark in recent years.
“It was a hellhole in ’64,’’ said Dershowitz, who was with his son, Elon.
We also ran into Larry and Stacey Lucchino, looking festive in their birthday hats; Sox chairman Tom Werner; restaurateurs Ed and Joe Kane; longtime NBC executive Dick Ebersol; Sox vice chairman David Ginsberg and his fetching fiancee, Laura Margosian, of Cambridge School Volunteers, and J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf and girlfriend Nora O’Connor. (While the rest of the capacity crowd toasted Fenway with Welch’s grape juice, Wolf said he’d be sipping something a little stronger.)
Chatting before the game with Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck, we noticed what looked like a tattoo on his left arm. It was a tattoo - of his wife’s name. (The tat, celebrating the couple’s 24th wedding anniversary, was done by Todd “Gonzo’’ Stulzaft at Stingray Body Art in Allston.)
“He’d been talking about it, so I told him to just go do it,’’ said Corinne Grousbeck.
And what do the Celtics players think of his ink?
“The guys saw it,’’ said Wyc. “[Paul] Pierce said, ‘I can respect that. That’s your girl.’ ’’
Also in the crowd were celebrity chef Todd English, Davio’s owner Steve DeFillippo, Harvard Business School professor Stephen Greyser, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, MLB commissioner Bud Selig, Entercom’s Julie Kahn, SBLI’s Bob Sheridan and wife Jean, Nomar Garciaparra’s wife, Mia Hamm, New Balance boss Jim Davis and wife Ann, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Clear Channel’s Steve Ross, PR poobah George Regan, Reebok’s Paul Foster, David Lucchino, CEO of the biomed firm Semprus BioSciences (and nephew of the Sox CEO), and Hizzoner Tom Menino and wife Angela.
Senator Brown, who temporarily traded his barn coat for a Red Sox T-shirt, said it was a special treat to meet some of his boyhood heroes.
“My first real memory was Jim Lonborg and the ’67 Series, and then you throw in Yaz, who I just met, and the Steamer, Luis Tiant, the “Spaceman’’ Bill Lee . . . It’s just amazing here today.’’
We also spied former Senate president Bob Travaglini, Congressman Ed Markey, Sox COO Sam Kennedy, restaurateur Patrick Lyons, Fenway Recordings kingpin Mark Kates, former hip-hop MC Pete Nice of 3rd Bass, and Mean Creek co-managers Michael Creamer and Susan Scotti, who were sitting with Guster’s Brian Rosenworcel and “Curb Your Enthusiam’’ comic Jeff Garlin. Yankees president Randy Levine made an appearance at the pre-game get-together hosted by Henry, as did TV types Natalie Jacobson and “Morning Joe’’ cohosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who looked a little bleary-eyed having broadcast from the park at 6 a.m.
Clarke, who was with wife Jennifer, said Friday’s VIP schmoozefest was a far cry from the old days, when he used to sneak into games.
“In 1967 I snuck into 44 games, and now I’m in here with the owners,’’ he said.
Asked about the status of his show, “Are You There, Chelsea?,’’ Clarke said he isn’t sure if the sitcom will be picked up for another season.
“I don’t know, but I hope so, because daddy needs a garage,’’ he said.