Fenway Park

From BR Bullpen

  • Opened: April 20, 1912
  • Address: 4 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215 (formerly Yawkey Way)
  • Capacity: 36,298 (2004)
  • Dimensions: (Left to Right) 310, 379, 420 (triangle), 380, 302

Red Sox Home Record (1912-Present): 4,909-3,726-31 (.568)

Braves Home Record (1913-15, 1946): Regular Season: 57-27-3 (.672) 414-322 (+92); Post Season: 2-0 (1.000) 8-5 (+3)

Non Baseball Tennants:

  • Boston Bulldogs (AFL: 1926)
  • Boston Redskins (NFL: 1933-36)
  • Boston Shamrocks (AFL: 1936-37)
  • Boston Yanks (NFL: 1944-48)
  • Boston Patriots (AFL: 1963-68)
  • Boston Beacons (NASL: 1968)

Non Baseball Usage: 2010 and 2023 Winter Classic (NHL); 2010, 2012, 2014 Frozen Fenway (NCAA hockey)

Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, is the oldest ballpark still in use in the major leagues, having opened for the start of the 1912 season, and being used without interruption ever since (except for the 1915 World Series which was moved to Braves Field because of its greater seating capacity, and Sunday home games between 1929 and 1932, which were also played in Braves Field because of a local by-law that prevented the use of Fenway Park for being too close to a church). In addition to World Series games played by the Red Sox, Fenway hosted the Boston Braves in the 1914 World Series, before the opening of Braves Field. Fenway Park was the first ballpark to celebrate its 100th anniversary, in 2012.

Whle it is now universally considered to be a jewel of the game, Fenway could easily have become a mere footnote in history. Before the 1920 season, the team's ownership considered the possibility of moving into Braves Field, and then demolishing the ballpark and selling the land for a large profit. The reasoning was that both the Red Sox and the Boston Braves were paying a lot of overhead to maintain a playing facility when they could easily have shared one; Braves Field had the larger capacity, even if everyone recognized that Fenway was a much nicer place to enjoy a ballgame, while the land under Fenway was much more valuable due to its location. Owner Harry Frazee was strangled by large debts and was apparently seriously considering the plan. Fortunately, it did not come to pass; instead, as part of the infamous Babe Ruth trade to the New York Yankee, Jacob Ruppert agreed to loan $300,000 to Frazee as a mortgage on the ballpark to alleviate his financial troubles.

From May 15, 2003 to April 8, 2013, the Red Sox had a streak of 820 consecutive sell-outs of home games at Fenway Park. The streak included 794 regular-season games and 26 postseason contests. It was the longest in major league history, easily surpassing the previous record of 455, held by the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field. Indeed, it was the longest in the history of North American professional sports, beating a streak of 814 sell-outs by the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association, achieved over a much longer period. The streak ended on April 10, 2013, when the paid attendance for a game against the Baltimore Orioles was 30,862, well below the stadium's capacity for night games which is 37,493. What makes it even more remarkable is that Fenway's capacity was increased by 5,000 seats during the period of the streak.

Fenway Park, August 2005

Fenway Park is known for its quirky configuration, forced by the constraints of urban geography. Its left field area is very small, but is bordered by an extremely high fence, the Green Monster. The Monster turns line drives which would go for extra bases elsewhere into singles, but also allows what would otherwise be harmless fly balls to become doubles or homers. In contrast, the center field area is extremely deep. While the right field corner is very close, with the "Pesky Pole" (the right foul pole) representing the shortest distance for a home run to travel in the major leagues, the fence then juts out at very steep angle, making it very difficult to hit a homer to right field unless the ball is hit very close to the foul line. The outfield has a number of nooks and crannies, as the deepest spot is not in dead center, but slightly to the right of it, and the height of the outfield fence varies significantly as well. Overall the park is considered to be one of the most hitter-friendly in the majors.

Fenway Park has undergone significant renovations, since the John Henry ownership began in 2002, including added seats on the Green Monster (left field wall) and on the right field roof. Under the bleachers in right field has become a large concession area. The team has also been able to purchase land adjacent to the park to expand office space and make room for larger locker rooms and player facilities. Another plan is in place to add 1,500 or more seats in the next two years to increase capacity to over 38,000.

Fenway Park boasts the oldest hand-operated scoreboard in the majors, located in the Green Monster. The scoreboard has been in place since the ballpark opened in 1912.

Fenway Park seen from the street. The back of the center field scoreboard is the most visible feature

Among other events that have taken place at Fenway are two editions of the NHL Winter Classic (in 2010 and 2023). It has also hosted boxing matches, soccer games (including serving as the home field for the Boston Beacons of the NASL in 1968), professional and college football (including being the home field for the Boston Redskins of the NFL from 1933 to 1936 and the Boston Patriots of the then-rival American Football League from 1963 to 1968). Boston College has been the college team to use the ballpark most often, and there are plans to have a permanent bowl game - the Fenway Bowl - be played at the facility, although the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic set these plans back by a few years.

It has also hosted concerts, even if it not an ideal music venue, but since 2003 at least one major touring act has stopped at Fenway every year; during the 2020 pandemic, local band the Dropkick Murphys played a fanless show here with a strong baseball theme (the band was spread out along the infield, and the musicians were introduced by the public address announcer as if part of a starting lineup, with their instrument and position on the field being listed. They have a number of baseball-themed songs in their set, and made them a prominent part of the show, which was broadcast over the internet.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Harvey Frommer: Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York, NY, 2011. ISBN 978-1584798521
  • David Hickey, Raymond Sinibaldi and Kerry Keene: Fenway Park: Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2012.
  • Bill Nowlin: Fenway Lives: The Team Behind the Team, Rounder Books, Cambridge, MA, 2004. ISBN 978-1579400903
  • Bill Nowlin: "The Time(s) the Braves Played Home Games at Fenway Park", in Bill Nowlin, ed.: The Miracle Braves of 1914: Boston's Original Worst-to-First World Series Champions, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 320-327. ISBN 978-1-933599-69-4
  • Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime: Fenway Park at 100: Baseball's Hometown, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2012. ISBN 978-1613210017
  • Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, eds.: The Fenway Project, SABR, Rounder Books, Cambridge, MA, 2004.
  • Bill Nowlin: "Dismantling Fenway Park Before the 1920 Baseball Season?", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 49, Nr. 2 (Fall 2020), pp. 112-114.
  • Dan Shaughnessy: At Fenway: Dispatches from Red Sox Nation, Three Rivers Press, new York, NY, 1996. ISBN 978-0517701041
  • Dan Shaughnessy and Stan Grossfeld: Fenway, Expanded and Updated: A Biography in Words and Pictures, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2007. ISBN 978-0618737369 (originally published in 1999)
  • Glenn Stout: Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY, 2011.
  • Milton J. Valencia: "Yawkey name dropped from Fenway street", Boston Globe, April 26, 2018.
  • David Vincent: "Fenway Park's Hand-Operated Scoreboard", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Cleveland, OH, #35 (2007), pp. 97-99.

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