IN 1993 THE RED SOX BEGAN OFFERING 50-MINUTE GUIDED TOURS OF FENWAY Park. For $5 visitors could step on the very turf where Tris Speaker, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski trod and check out the dugouts, bullpens and press box. The past seemed glorious, but the present, well. ... In the throes of a painful down period—the Old Towne Team went 291--310 from 1991 through strike-shortened 1994—the park felt cramped and dingy, in need of new life.
Then in 1995, as baseball reemerged, so did the Red Sox and their fabled home. Mo Vaughn powered his way to an MVP award. The Sox went to the playoffs, as they would again in '98 and '99. Memorable sights and sounds were born: In '97 three 20-foot Coca-Cola bottles were installed around the leftfield light tower, a distinctive (if, some complained, crass) addition to the skyline above the Green Monster that stood for 11 years. In 1998 the Standells' rock ode to Boston, Dirty Water, was played out of the Fenway loudspeakers after every Red Sox win, a practice that endures.
Before the 1999 season, in anticipation of hosting the All-Star Game, Fenway's undersized clubhouses were buffed up with new lockers and rugs along with brighter lighting. Then came that Midsummer Classic, a night made indelible by a spine-tingling tribute to Ted Williams; it would turn out to be the Splinter's final appearance at Fenway. The stands shook; the park was in jewel-like glory.
It was also during that 1999 season that Red Sox CEO John Harrington proposed the building of a new Fenway, an expanded ballpark to be built across Yawkey Way. But at the time of the announcement a group called Save Fenway Park! as well as other prospective rescuers already were organized in opposition. New Fenway? No way. The treasure was preserved.