By Rosemary Ford
CNHI News Service
BOSTON — It's hallowed ground to almost anyone who's heard of baseball.
This year Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, celebrates its 100th anniversary as America's oldest Major League stadium -- and the setting for some of baseball's greatest players, historic wins and crushing losses.
That sacred magic is captured in two exhibits at the 20-year-old Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, a Boston suburb. (The museum is named for famed Lawrence, Mass., photographer Arthur Griffin, who died in 2001 at the age of 97.)
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The first is "Fenway Park: A 100th Anniversary Exhibit," featuring about 100 works from Griffin and various other photographers who captured its nooks, crannies and craziness.
The second is, "There Goes Ted Williams," featuring the work of Griffin alongside contemporary illustrations by Matt Tavares of the Red Sox Hall of Fame outfielder.
Peter Griffin of Windham, N.H., nephew of the photographer, said the exhibits are intended to capture the warm and fuzzy feeling of Fenway Park.
"There are so few constants in our life," he said. "There is so much change going on in our lives — it's something we can sort of grasp."
The show includes historical and contemporary photographs, as well as ephemera related to the building, the neighborhood, and the people.
"It's been a great venue for the Boston Red Sox, but it has also been the great New England clubhouse over the years," said Griffin. "FDR gave his final political stump speech there in 1944. In 1918, there was a rally there for Irish independence that attracted 60,000 people — inside and on the streets around Fenway."
His uncle's photos are the first color shots ever taken of Williams and also one of the largest collections of images from Williams' early career, twice interrupted by military service in World War II and Korea.
Griffin said his uncle pioneered the use of 35mm cameras and color film, shot the first color photos of Williams and fighter Joe Louis, and his pictures were the first to run in color in The Boston Globe, The Saturday Evening Post, and Yankee Magazine. Among other famous people he photographed were Norman Rockwell, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Orson Wells and Ethel Barrymore.
In a 1998 interview, Griffin, the photographer, told The Eagle-Tribune:
"All of the other guys had a big box camera. I had a very small, fast camera." It allowed him to be nimble and get the shots the others missed. He could shoot 36 pictures a roll, where his contemporaries had to reload after taking two pictures.
In 1939, Kodak sent him an experimental color film. He used it to shoot the first color photos of 19-year-old Red Sox rookie Williams at Fenway Park.
No one else shot a color photo of him until the 1950s.
Rosemary Ford is a reporter for The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.