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    Fenway Park a big part of pop culture

    The ‘lyric little bandbox’ has been a movie and television star, as well as an inspiration for many in the literary and musical worlds

    Drew Barrymore’s run through the field during a game at Fenway Park was filmed for a scene in the movie “Fever Pitch.”
    Barry Chin/Globe Staff
    Drew Barrymore’s run through the field during a game at Fenway Park was filmed for a scene in the movie “Fever Pitch.”

    It is not unprecedented for inanimate objects to receive a Best Supporting Actor nod for an Academy Award, and if Mark Wahlberg’s Oscar-nominated performance for the 2009 film ‘‘The Departed’’ just popped into your mind, well, that Boston accent was a bit rough for a proud son of Dorchester.

    So perhaps the thought ventures only slightly beyond the whimsical to suggest that Fenway Park, a frequent star of television and film and a pop culture icon for at least the most recent decades among its 100 years, deserves Oscar consideration.

    When it comes to Fenway and film, the Green Monster and the red carpet have meshed as perfectly as baseball and an idyllic summer night.


    Fenway was one of the few Boston landmarks that did not share a scene or two in ‘‘The Departed,’’ but its star turn came a year later. In ‘‘The Town,’’ a modern spin on the classic heist movie starring and directed by Cambridge’s Ben Affleck, Fenway, as much as any actor, was the center of the film’s pivotal late scenes, when a group of Charlestown criminals attempts a devious and doomed master stroke: a robbery of Fenway Park’s money room, where the night’s proceeds are tallied, with the denouement coming with a shootout at Gate D.

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    From Sept. 15, 2010: Fenway Park hosts premiere of ‘The Town’

    Affleck told the Globe at the time of the film’s September 2010 release that whenever he’d get stressed out during the 13 days of complicated filming at Fenway, he would reminisce about going to Red Sox games with his dad.

    Brian Snyder/Reuters
    Ben Affleck brought the premiere of "The Town," which has many of its scenes set at Fenway, to Fenway Park.

    During 1989’s ‘‘Field of Dreams’’ in which Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) drags reclusive writer Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) to Fenway Park, a mysterious message appears on the video board imploring them to ‘‘go the distance.’’ Affleck and boyhood pal Matt Damon were not-yet-famous extras in that scene.

    Eight years later, Affleck and Damon skyrocketed to stardom after sharing the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for ‘‘Good Will Hunting.’’ Fenway’s role in that film, which starred Damon, Affleck, and Robin Williams, is little more than a cameo — just as it had in 2011’s Oscar-nominated ‘‘Moneyball.’’


    As Williams’s character, a scraggly, world-weary professor named Sean Maguire, tells Will Hunting, the tortured genius portrayed by Damon, the tale of how he met his wife when she walked into a bar he happened to be patronizing, he instantly recalls the date: Oct. 21, 1975.

    It was the night of the epic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and Carlton Fisk’s unforgettable walkoff home run. The footage of Fisk’s homer is the backdrop as Sean explains to an incredulous Will in a wonderful piece of dialogue of how he came to give up his ticket.

    Will: You missed Pudge Fisk’s home run?

    Sean: Oh, yeah.

    Will: To have a drink with some lady you never met?


    Sean: Yeah, but you should have seen her. She was a stunner.

    Will: I don’t care if Helen of Troy walks in the room, that’s Game 6!

    Sean: Oh, Helen of Troy . . .

    Will: Oh my God. And who are these friends of yours, they let you get away with that?

    Sean: Oh, they had to.

    Will: What did you say to them?

    Sean: I just slid my ticket across the table, and I said, ‘Sorry, guys. I gotta see about a girl.’

    I gotta see about a girl. That line earned its own lasting place in pop culture, and it was essentially the theme of 2005’s ‘‘Fever Pitch,’’ perhaps the only movie more Fenway-centric than ‘‘The Town.’’

    ‘‘Fever Pitch’’ is directed by Sox fans Peter and Bobby Farrelly and stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. It features numerous scenes at Fenway, including one that strikes as either the most magical or cringe-worthy in Fenway film history.

    After a failed romance, the main characters reconcile on the field during Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series. Barrymore’s character hops out of the stands and eludes Fenway security to profess her love just as Fallon’s character is about to sell his cherished season tickets. Yes, during the game.

    Cue the famous final scene. Eight Red Sox wins later, the Red Sox are World Series champions, and Barrymore and Fallon, in character, can be found forever smooching in the background of the on-field celebration of the franchise’s first title in 86 years. It’s quite the storybook ending, especially for the Farrelly brothers, who had to reshoot segments of the film after the Red Sox pulled off the most unexpected of plot twists by winning it all.

    During his seven-year run (1998-2004) on ‘‘Saturday Night Live,’’ Fallon’s recurring character — named ‘‘Sully,’’ naturally — was a diehard Red Sox fan who was either bickering with his girlfriend Denise (played by Rachel Dratch) or hollering his admiration for ‘‘NOMAAHH!,’’ the then-beloved shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Fenway has enough credits on the small screen to earn its Screen Actors Guild card, including virtually a half-dozen David E. Kelley programs. And, of course, everybody knew the name Sam Malone, the bartender played by Ted Danson on the 1980s classic ‘‘Cheers,’’ because before he ever served a beverage, he served up home runs as a middling Red Sox pitcher.

    Acknowledgements of Fenway in literature begin with the very first sentence of John Updike’s celebrated October 1960 essay in the New Yorker, an account of Ted Williams’s final game titled ‘‘Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu’’: ‘‘Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg.’’

    Fenway has been featured innumerable times in non-fiction. And notable among fictional accounts is Stephen King’s ‘‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,’’ which references the club’s former closer in the title. Julianna Baggott’s ‘‘The Prince of Fenway Park’’ is exceptional among children’s literature.

    Updike’s lyric little bandbox has lent itself to plenty of song lyrics. In recent years, Fenway has hosted concerts by such enduring acts as Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Jimmy Buffett, who recorded a live album at the ballpark. Neil Diamond has also played Fenway, and his ‘‘Sweet Caroline’’ has become as essential to the eighth inning as stretching is to the seventh, a staple on the ballpark soundtrack along with the Standells’ ‘‘Dirty Water.’’

    To complete the soundtrack, the standard ‘‘The Impossible Dream’’ became the coda to the unforgettable 1967 season. The Dropkick Murphys put a modern spin on the long-ago Fenway anthem ‘‘Tessie’’ and became the unofficial house band at Fenway during the 2004 season. Jonathan Richman’s ‘‘As We Walk To Fenway Park in Boston Town’’ was a staple of the ‘‘Fever Pitch’’ soundtrack.

    And just last year, crooner Brian Evans recorded ‘‘At Fenway.’’ It’s a suitable tribute to the ballpark in this 100th year. And who knows, perhaps a Red Sox fan might listen to it en route to seeing about a girl.