A silent Sunday at Fenway Park

The place had no attraction. It might as well have been just another one of the old brick buildings common in the area for all the attention it received. The streets surrounding it were nearly deserted, and few showed any interest in it.

Such neglect of the structure is not unusual - in the winter. On the first day of summer and the last day of what should have been a big series, however, it is an aberration.

But Fenway Park had nothing to recommend it yesterday - the 10th day of a players’ strike that shows no sign of ending.


A few pedestrians strolled down Yawkey way, looking into the windows of the souvenir shops lining the street. All of them were closed, hidden behind ugly iron grates. So were the restaurants and bars nearby. And so was the park’s advance ticket sales office.

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The street should have mobbed with people yesterday. Hawkers yelling at the top of their lungs should have been urging them to buy peanuts or a pennant, and the bars, the restaurants and the souvenir shops should have been doing a brisk business.

But business was at a standstill, and the cardboard signs announcing, “We are open during the strike” (except Sundays) went unread.

Lacking too were the sounds associated with the place. The organ music that would have been booming from the park was replaced by a monotonous beat

from the speakers of a roller disco across the street from the bleacher gates. The only other sound was the whine of traffic from the Massachusetts Turnpike a few hundred yards away.


Normally, parking attendants would have been waving red flags in a frantic semaphore aimed at getting drivers into their lots. Yesterday gas stations which park cars on their property during games only pumped gas. And a group of young men from the Salvation Army’s social center used the vast lot next to the building on Brookline avenue to hit pop flys to each other.

The day would have been acceptable for baseball. Though skies were overcast in Boston, sunshine managed to pierce the clouds now and then, and the air was comfortably warm. No doubt there would have been a large crowd for the afternoon game with the California Angels, which had been scheduled to begin at 2.

It would have marked the end of a six-day home stand for the Red Sox, who then were to head for New York and a series with their archrivals, the Yankees.

And it would have been the last game in a three-game series that could have been appropriately dubbed “The Red Sox vs. The Red Sox.” Three ex-Red Sox - Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson - now play for the Angels. Their presence in town would surely would have drawn the fans.

Pamela Arpin, who is seven months pregnant, had wanted badly to see the game, and had bought tickets when she and her husband were in Boston in May to celebrate their anniversary. But the player’s strike ended those plans. Still, the Arpins, who live in Woonsocket, R.I., decided to keep their reservation at the Copley Plaza, and spent the weekend in Boston anyway.


The couple stopped at the park on their way home yesterday, hoping to get a refund for their tickets, and were not prepared for the quiet scene they encountered. “This is sad,” Pamela Arpin said. “I wish this would all end. I love the Red Sox, I really do, especially the Eck (Dennis Eckersley*. I told the doctor I won’t have the baby until they’re on the road.”

A Bronx man and his son visiting Boston also stopped at the locked ticket office door, looked inside, and noted with satisfaction that an enlarged Red Sox schedule on the wall indicated that all the games with the Yankees had been sold out.

“We thought we’d come over for a look,” the man, who would not give his name, said. “I’ve seen the park before but my son hasn’t. There’s not much to see today.”

A young man riding a 10-speed bicycle also came over for a look, circling the streets around the park several times and speaking into a small tape recorder as he went.

The bicyclist, Scott Lindberg, a rabid Red Sox fan, also is cohost of a Sunday sports talk show on WMBR, an MIT-owned radio station in Cambridge. On Sundays when the team in at home, he enjoys riding around the park “to catch the atmosphere of the place. I love it.” Yesterday, he was on assignment, reporting an atmosphere he has never seen before during the season.

“I’m coming down Lansdowne street,” he said into the recorder, trying to catch his breath between words. “I’m right up against the Green Wall, and I’m looking up at the holes in the nets.” He pedaled a few seconds and added solemnly, “Here it is, the 10th day of the strike, and it’s dead down here at Fenway. It’s absolutely morbid . . . .”