Diversity, Culture and Leadership – Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 – Celebration on April 20, 2012

Diversity, Culture and Leadership – Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 – Celebration on April 20, 2012 Diversity, culture and leadership matter in every environment from athletes, sports teams, organizations, religion and yes-even politics. Why you might ponder? Let’s take a quick review of our current events, i.e., the 2012 Olympics, the high-stakes run for the president of the US, (think Todd Akins) the Universities, (Penn State, UNC), The Vatican, The Military, to name just a few. The issue is that leadership can sanctify a culture without diversity and support it, and the ‘why’ it is necessary for many years, decades and some case centuries. Yet this comes at the expense of every person, every citizen, and yes there is a loss and where there is a loss, there appears to be a win at least for a period of time. The implication is a win-loss mentality versus a win-win opportunity for everyone, (inclusive of everyone) whether you are a sports fan, and athlete, a voter, a student, a parishioner, an employee or an enlisted personnel in the military. I recently viewed a PBS program entitled, Inside Fenway Park at 100, which is the history of the Green Monster. Below in this article is an overview of what was covered in the program from the WGBH Website and the article, Fenway at 100: A Ballpark’s History of Change. The history of Fenway is more than intriguing to me as I watched the program, and listened while Matt Damon provided the narration. Yes, Fenway brings to mind my experiences at Fenway and B-town. My earliest memories are being in the stands at Fenway from a school field trip with classmates and the bus trip from Maine to see Yaz play. The excitement of the bus ride and going to see the Red Sox play baseball was a big deal; especially as a kid from Maine. It is a great memory, what could get much better than that? I cheered on the team as I sat beside a grade-school pal, Cathy. She knew a great deal about the sport being that her father was a coach and we had a blast being a fan. Later in life, I moved to the Boston area to attend college. I lived in Cambridge and Somerville for over twenty years and had the opportunity to go to the ballpark several times. What really made me want to write something about this historic ballpark are the culture it represents in Boston, and the culture of the Boston Red Sox and the arrival of their new leadership/owners in 2002. The new leadership brought in the wave of cultural change and diversity. It has made a difference to the city of Boston, Fenway Park, the game of baseball and yes, and this includes the fans according to the articles. This historical cultural change written in the article entitled, Making Fenway a Place for Everyone, By Phillip Martin.What this means is a change to the history of the Red Sox leadership, diversity and culture where diversity and culture in the past was not something that was favored. As quoted in the article, “Sam Kennedy, the Red Sox chief operating officer, has been with the team for 11 seasons, arriving with the new owners in 2002. He says this most recent management team came with a strong vision they expressed from the start. “No one sort of came in here with their head buried in the sand saying we didn’t have problems. We clearly did,” Kennedy recalls. “The quote that Larry Lucchino had was something to the effect that the organization had an undeniable history of racial intolerance, and that was something for our leader to say that, and to say that on the record was a wake up call to the region that there is a sort of new leadership group in charge.” The article goes onto say “…Not surprisingly, Fenway Park’s bleachers reflected this purposeful absence of diversity, says Boston sports historian Richard A. Johnson, “Certainly it was not a large drawing crowd for a black audience.” The importance of this change is more than significant for Boston whose multicultural issues are so much part of the fabric of living in the gritty streets of Boston. Yet by the 2000’s this predominately-white ball club and fan base needed more than a face-lift if they were going to continue to increase performance and standings in the league and to begin the needed practice of diversity as part of their culture and leadership. Part of my excitement in watching this PBS Fenway history program was the similar feeling of pride I felt in watching the Olympics and seeing how each athlete made a difference individually and in their team contributions. Yes, the 2012 Olympics is an historical honor for all and especially as noted in the article entitled, 2012 Olympics: Year of U.S. Women by Sheila Eldred was the women and their winning the Gold medals. “As Team USA marched through London’s Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics on Sunday, most of the American athletes with medals were women. U.S. women earned 56 percent of the country’s medals, and 66 percent of its golds.” WhoHoo!! This segues me to my point of diversity in the work place and in the article entitled, “Steps to Retain Diverse Talent” in the Diversity Executive Magazine by Dwain Celistan, the article summarizes with diversity and inclusion not only is performance higher, employees are happier, and the retention of employees is higher with a higher return of investment (ROI) to the overall organization. We as a nation can learn from observing the history at Fenway and what didn’t work for those who were turned away from playing the game in the earlier years, and the fans who supported them. From the success in investing in programs such as Title IX to understand how important equality is for any ball-club, athlete, and employee. We know that leadership matters, culture matters and at the end of the day working together to accomplish a practice of inclusion versus exclusion provides increased performance. In summary, the value of leadership to strive to incorporate all various cultures and beliefs will provide many types of return on investment. The position of inclusion versus exclusion and the action to take is to start today rather than let months, years, decades, and centuries prevail in ideas that do not support equality for all everyone. Below is an excerpt from WGBH website and the program, Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 broadcasted on PBS March 26, 2012. Enjoy! Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 celebrates the centennial of the oldest and most intimate big league ballpark in America. Fenway’s Grand Opening was on April 20, 1912, when the Red Sox played the New York Highlanders, a team that would be renamed the Yankees the next year. The film uses a current Red Sox-Yankees game as a thread to the history of the ballpark and as a way to go inside and get behind the scenes to see what it takes to put on a major league game. National Baseball Hall of Fame Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1918. We’re in the locker room as the Red Sox get ready for the game, in the underground batting cage where ball players can swing bats away from the eyes of the public and the press. What’s it like inside the Green Monster’s famous manual scoreboard? We find out. We follow the superintendent as he takes care of the century-old building; the groundskeepers who prepare the field of play; a vendor who races through the stands selling hot dogs; the bat boy who’s really more of a bat man; and the guy who’s worked at Fenway Park for 32 years and whose job is to rub every one of the 160 or so balls used in the game with mud from a secret location. Boston Public Library Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper is safe at third during a 1916 game at Fenway Park. Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 hears from players and historians that Fenway Park is not just home to a legendary baseball team, the place where Babe Ruth made his major league debut and Ted Williams set records. It is also a public space that is vital to the city of Boston. From the very beginning, Fenway hosted all sorts of events, including other sports, masses for World War I soldiers, a 1919 rally for Irish independence, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last presidential campaign speech. We see how, in 2002, Fenway Park narrowly escaped demolition, the fate of most other early baseball palaces. The ownership group that took over in that year was committed to the ballpark’s preservation, turning the run-down stadium into both a fan favorite and the most popular tourist attraction in Boston. Fenway Park is a memory palace for generations of fans and ballplayers, a place where you can sit in the same seat as your grandfather to watch the stars of the day play America’s pastime. In fast-paced, mobile America, the old building provides a sense of continuity, an anchor to our past. Additional Information: Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100 – Preview Video – PBS PBS Video and Program of Inside Fenway Park Icon-100, 3/26/2012. “Celebrate the centennial of Fenway Park, one of Boston’s most popular attractions and a landmark for baseball fans everywhere.”




Resources Bullard, R. To the Core (2012).Available from: The News and Observer (N&O) Opinions Section. http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/08/19/2275237/roger-a-bullard-christian-to-the.html#storylink=misearch Accessed 08/19/2012. Caputo, I. Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100. (2012). Available from: WGBH.org. http://www.wgbh.org/articles/Fenway-at-100-A-Ballparks-History-of-Change-6929 Accessed 8/19/2012. Caputo, I. Fenway at 100: A Ballpark’s History of Change. (2012). Available from: WGBH.org. http://www.wgbh.org/Blogs/Home.cfm?topicID=363&Date=&startRow=1 Accessed 8/19/2012. Celistan, D. Steps to Retain Diverse Talent (2012). Available from: Diversity Executive Magazine. http://www.diversity-executive.com/articles/view/steps-to-retain-diverse-talent/ Accessed 8/13/2012. Hewitt, B. Medal of Honor Winner Dakota Meyer Is a Man on a Mission‏ (2012). Available from: Parade.com. http://www.parade.com/news/2012/08/19-medal-of-honor-winner-dakota-meyer-man-on-a-mission.html Accessed 8/20/2012. Eldred, S. Olympics: Year of U.S. Women (2012). Available from: Discovery News. http://news.discovery.com/adventure/us-women-olympics-london-120813.html Accessed 8/19/2012. Marchman, T. A Sad Story of Happy Valley. (2012). Available from: The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444443504577601093829708820.html?KEYWORDS=paterno Accessed 08/21/12. Martin, P. Making Fenway a Place for Everyone (2012). Available from: WGBH.org http://www.wgbh.org/articles/Making-Fenway-a-Place-for-Everyone-6318 Accessed 8/19/2012. ( ). Todd Akin’s Sinking Ship. (2012). Available from: The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443989204577601781595726706.html?mod=WSJ_hps_RightRailColumns Accessed 08/21/12. ( ) Judge Rules Vatican Isn’t Priests Employer. (2012). Available from: The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20000872396390443989204577601710008899428.html Accessed 08/21/12.

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.