EVERYONE IS gushing over the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. But it wasn’t long ago that anyone with clout in this town wanted to pulverize the “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark’’ and dance a jig on the rubble. It was mainly a small group of preservationists and neighborhood activists under the banner Save Fenway Park who challenged the official line that the nation’s oldest major league ballpark was beyond redemption.
By the late 1990s, Red Sox CEO John Harrington had sold the city on the bogus idea that Red Sox Nation would collapse unless the team built a new 44,000 seat ballpark adjacent to Fenway Park. Sure - it would require some tricky financing and land takings. Mayor Menino, John Hancock chief executive David D’Alessandro, advertising executive Jack Connors, and other city leaders stepped in to cut a deal with the Legislature. In July, 2000 - with an ill-advised push from the Globe editorial page - lawmakers passed a bill smoothing the way for the acquisition of a new stadium site for the Red Sox.
Thankfully, it never happened.
Fast forward to Thursday at the Cask ’n Flagon, across the street from the ballpark, where eight members of Save Fenway Park’s board of directors were attending their - ahem - annual meeting, which always coincides with Opening Day. Over beers, they recalled the skewerings by sports columnists and the catcalls they endured when handing out flyers on game days.
“But we knew we were right,’’ said John Valianti, whose skill as a professional sign maker came in just as handy as the legal and financial expertise of other members of the group.
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