Even as the world was still reeling from the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, a new era dawned in Boston, and in sports history. On April 20, 1912 Fenway Park opened to the public with a capacity of 35,000 seats … and the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders in an extra-innings thriller to launch the storied baseball stadium.
At this point, Fenway Park is the oldest professional baseball stadium. Chicago’s Wrigley Field is the only other ‘classic’ park remaining. It is also one of the most famous venues in all of sports, with many legendary moments transpiring on the field.
Over at NESN (New England Sports Network, which I watched regularly before moving out of Mass.), they have ‘100 facts for 100 years’. Here are a few:
1. On Opening Day in 1912, Fenway Park’s original capacity was 35,000.
3. Construction began in September 1911 on a landfill for $650,000.
4. The Red Sox won their first game at Fenway Park on April 20th 1912, defeating the New York Highlanders 7-6 in 11 innings
5. The first All-Star Game was played at Fenway Park in 1946.
8.The Red Sox held their first night game at Fenway Park on July 13, 1947, defeating the Chicago White Sox 1-0.
10.The Green Monster was originally blue and featured many white advertisements.
14. The Green Monster is the tallest wall in any MLB park at an impressive 37 feet.
15. Ted Williams was the first player to ever hit a 500 foot home run at Fenway.
17. The seats at Fenway are made out of Oak wood.
18. The right field foul pole was named after legendary Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky.
22. Pesky’s No. 6 is one of eight numbers retired by the Red Sox, all of which are displayed above the right field grandstands
23. Those honored players include Bobby Doerr (1) Joe Cronin (4), Pesky, (6) Carl Yastrzemski, (8) Ted Williams, (9) Jim Rice, (14) Carlton Fisk (27) and Jackie Robinson (42).
26. Fenway Park was christened with a World Series victory, as the Red Sox defeated the New York Giants in the 1912 World Series.
27. Counting the 1912 season, the Red Sox have played eight World Series at Fenway Park.
28. The Red Sox haven’t celebrated a World Series victory at home since the 1918 season.
29. Fenway Park has been sold out in 718 consecutive games dating back to 2003, which is the best streak in baseball history
35. Roger Clemens recorded the first ever 20 strikeout game in Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners on April 29, 1986.
42. Fenway Park hosted its first ever Negro League game on September 8, 1942, when the Philadelphia Stars defeated Baltimore Elite Giants 8-7.
48. 1934 was the first season that Fenway Park featured a scoreboard.
57. April 20 wasn’t the original date for Fenway’s first game in 1912, as two prior games had been rained out.
61. The foul ball screen behind home plate was the first ever used in professional baseball.
82. WBZ-TV televised the first game at Fenway Park on May 12, 1948.
84. Babe Ruth was the first player to hit a home run over the newly constructed left field wall in 1934.
86. Then Red Sox owner John I. Taylor came up with the name Fenway Park, simply by calling it after the Fenway section of Boston.
89. The Red Sox lost 13-2 to the Yankees on the first Sunday game played at Fenway on July 3, 1932.
90. Sunday baseball was approved in Boston three years earlier, but not at Fenway due to its proximity to a local church.
93. 15,000 people were in attendance to honor the fallen military members of the Spanish-American war on May 23, 1915.
95. John. F. Fitzgerald, grandfather of John F. Kennedy, started the tradition of tossing out the first pitch.
98. The left field foul pole also has a name. Dubbed the “Fisk Pole,” the left field foul pole was named after the legendary home run hit by Sox catcher Carlton Fisk in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
100. The 100th anniversary of Fenway Park’s opening will take place on April 20, 2012, as the Red Sox will take on the New York Yankees. Both teams will be wearing throwbacks uniforms for the event.
CBS has a ‘Fenway Road Trip’ series as well, related to open house tours given of the park. An interesting retrospective looks at how things have changed since the epic 1975 World Series which is still considered one of the best series of all-time.
Personally it is hard to single out just one memory of Fenway. As someone who grew up watching Yaz and crew play, I was lucky to see many games at Fenway, some good, some bad, some from behind the obstructed seating poles! Going into the Fenway area was always part of the fun, wandering around the bustling vendors surrounding the park. I was fortunate to get some sweet seats for the playoffs in 2004 and was able to take my kids to their first Red Sox game as they marched on their way to their first World Series in 86 years. It was an amazing day we still talk about!
What memories do you have – good or bad – of Fenway Park?