While the Kansas City Royals began batting practice Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park ahead of a showdown with the Red Sox, Harvard football coach Tim Murphy thought ahead to his team’s annual meeting with Yale, which this year will be held at the historic ballpark Nov. 17.
Murphy, who grew up in Kingston, recalled his days playing Little League for the Kingston Red Sox and the euphoria in his neighborhood when the Sox won the pennant in 1967.
“If you had told me as a 10-year-old kid in ’67 that we would be playing in Fenway Park . . . amazing,” said Murphy. “It’s such an iconic place.
“Any time you take a leap of faith and break tradition, it’s going to be imperfect. But I think it’s indicative of the interest that The Game is already pretty much sold out, and for any Bostonian, this is a home game.”
November’s game will mark the 135th meeting between Harvard and Yale and the first time since 1912 that The Game is not held at either Harvard Stadium or the Yale Bowl.
For the coaches, athletes, and alumni of each university, the opportunity to play in Fenway was simply too good to pass up.
“We’ve got 30-something states represented, and we’re truly a national team,” Murphy said. “But I know all the kids are fired up. If you want an indication of who is the most excited, it’s definitely been the players, from the minute it came up.”
When Crimson senior captain and linebacker Zach Miller moved to Boston for his first year at Harvard, he attended a Red Sox game before even setting foot on campus.
Stepping on the hallowed field Tuesday, the Houston native said he found it hard to contain his excitement.
“It was hard not to daydream,” said Miller. “You can feel the atmosphere.
“Being able to come back [to Fenway] to finish up my college football career is going to be an awesome experience.”
Miller and Yale captain Kyle Cullen were presented with Red Sox jerseys that read “Harvard” and “Yale” on the back.
Football returned to Fenway in November 2015 for the first time since 1968, the same year Harvard overcame a late 16-point deficit to tie Yale, 29-29.
This year’s contest will mark the 50th anniversary of that historic game. Former Harvard captain Vic Gatto, who started at running back in that contest, was on hand to offer some perspective on the second-oldest rivalry in college sports.
“It’s a great, friendly rivalry even if it doesn’t appear that way when you play,” said Gatto.
“We think of Harvard Stadium as an historic venue, but Fenway is, as well, and when you go to school in Cambridge or Boston, Fenway is a part of the experience.”Nathaniel Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.