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This story is part of Only A Game's Thanksgiving Leftovers Show. Find the full episode here.
Back in July, we brought you the story behind the 1999 hit “All Star” by Smash Mouth.
We told you how the band’s one non-sports fan wrote the sports anthem of a generation. But we didn’t tell you how a member of Smash Mouth took a stand to save one of this country’s most beloved sports venues.
'Its Future Was Very Much In Doubt'
Back in 1999, Fenway Park was in danger.
"Its future was very much in doubt," said CBS Boston sports writer Michael Hurley. "It seemed like you maybe had a couple years left."
It may be hard to remember now in the era of Green Monster seats, $10 craft beers and quadrennial championships, but back then the stadium wasn’t exactly posh.
Models had already been made for a “New” Fenway Park.
"It seemed like it was going to happen," Hurley said.
Enter Smash Mouth.
Two months after the release of “All Star,” Smash Mouth was invited to perform at Fenway before the 1999 Home Run Derby.
The band was excited. Well, most of the band ...
"I know it meant a lot more to the other guys," said Greg Camp, the band's non-sports fan who wrote "All Star." "But I understand it. I know what it is. It's like me, if I were to go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ... or a museum that had a bunch of microphones in it. That’s cool to me."
But then Greg arrived at the ballpark.
"And I was, like, 'This place is cool, man. Why you want to rip this old, cool place down for?' " Greg recalled.
The performance began. Smash Mouth was on a stage in front of the right field bleachers, playing before a crowd of baseball fans who were presumably looking forward to a day in the not-so-distant future when they could watch a game in a seat wide enough for a late-20th-century human.
And then Greg Camp took the microphone.
"I said something about 'Save Fenway,' and everyone booed me," Greg recalled. "I got booed for saying that. And then the only thing that I saw was a billboard that said Dunkin' Donuts. And I went, 'Dunkin' Donuts!' And then everyone went, 'Yay!' ”
But is it possible that Greg’s stand on behalf of Fenway Park started to change some minds, ultimately marking a turning point in the effort to save "America’s Most Beloved Ballpark"?
"And the funny thing is, I didn’t know that they saved Fenway until you told me," Greg said. "I thought they ripped that place down and put up a new one."
"No, Fenway Park’s a big deal," I told him.
"Yeah, well good," he said. "It’s all because of me and you’re welcome."
Well, maybe not so fast …
If you look back at old blog posts and newspaper articles, you’ll find a few short mentions of Smash Mouth’s Fenway Park performance. These stories confirm a couple key details: that “Save Fenway Park” was shouted. That the crowd booed. But these stories say that Smash Mouth’s heroic member was not Greg Camp — they say it was lead singer Steve Harwell.
Of course, we had to try to get to the bottom of this.
A Smash Mouth Mystery
I asked Harwell if he remembered Greg shouting "Save Fenway Park."
"No, I don't remember that, honestly," Harwell said. "Pretty much, I was probably hammered at that time, just to be honest with you."
"Greg told me it was him, but then I read some old newspapers accounts that said it was you," I explained. "So I wasn't sure who should get the credit for saving Fenway Park."
"I always get the credit," Harwell said. "You understand that? Daddy always gets the credit."
It’s a mystery that perhaps never will be — or never should be — solved. But the next time you’re watching the Red Sox, enjoying a $13.50 turkey tip sandwich, you can give a little thanks to Smash Mouth — someone from Smash Mouth — for standing up for Fenway Park.
Our story on the origin of the song “All Star” aired on July 14, 2018.
This segment aired on November 24, 2018.
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