For over 100 years, Fenway Park has been one of baseball’s most iconic grounds. With its unique dimensions, and jewel box design built right into the city, it has become one of the landmark cathedrals for the sport. In today’s article we’ll take a look back at what makes this park so special and all of the history and features that have made it become so legendary. Everything from the Green Monster to Pesky’s Pole, and even outliving the attempt to tear down and replace the iconic stadium.
Huntington Avenue GroundsHuntington Avenue Grounds (1901 – 1911)
Before the Boston Red Sox called Fenway Park home, they played in another stadium called the “Huntington Avenue American League Baseball Grounds’ ‘ or more simply known as the “Huntington Avenue Grounds”. This was the home of the Red Sox for the first ten years of the team’s existence between 1901 and 1911. The stadium was built near the New York, New Heaven, and Hartford Railroad tracks, where just on the other side of the tracks was the South End Grounds, where the National League Boston Braves played at the time. The Huntington Avenue grounds plot of land was quite large, and was formerly home to a circus ground. While the stadium itself only had a capacity of 11,500, the playing field was massive with the deepest part of the park marked at 635 feet from home plate. Some notable events that took place there was the first modern World Series between both the American and National league in 1903. The following season on May 05, 1904, Cy Young threw the first perfect game of the modern era. But by 1911, Red Sox owner John I. Taylor felt limited by the Huntington Avenue Grounds small capacity and so he began searching for alternate sites to build a brand new stadium. He soon found and purchased a piece of land that was surrounded by five streets, Lansdowne Street, Ipswich Street, Van Ness Street, Jersey Street, and Brookline AvenueWith a little less than two weeks left in the regular season, construction began on the brand new stadium, which broke ground on September 25, 1911. Taylor made sure that the new ballpark would have over twice the capacity as the old Huntington Avenue grounds, with the new stadium seating around 27,000 fans. There is some debate over how Fenway Park got its name. Owner John Taylor claimed that it was in honor of the surrounding “Fenway-Kenmore” neighborhood near the new stadium. Prior to it’s development, the area originally was nicknamed “The Fens’ ‘ due to it being mainly a marshland. Later on, “The Fens” was incorporated into the name “Fenway-Kenmore” when the area was annexed from the nearby Brookline neighborhood in the 1870’s.
However, while John Taylor may have named the stadium in honor of the local neighborhood, he also just so happened to own a company named the “Fenway Reality Company” and perhaps thought some corporate synergy between his company and his baseball team couldn’t hurt? Whatever the case may be, John Taylor would end up selling most of his shares in the Red Sox in September 1911, just seven months before Fenway Park first opened. Taylor would later sell his remaining shares when Joseph Lannin (Lan-In) became the sole owner of the team in 1914. The architect behind Fenway was James McLaughin, who helped design and build a number of buildings around Boston in the early 20th century. McLaughin worked with Osborn Engineering, the engineering firm behind many famous stadiums such as the original Tiger stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, the original Yankee Stadium, and both of Cleveland and Kansas City’s municipal stadiums. Like many ballparks of the era, Fenway was designed with asymmetrical field dimensionals. The shortest part of the park is in right field, where the outfield wall was originally 325 feet away from home plate, but was later shortened to 302 feet. The deepest part of the park is in right-center field at 420 feet, forming a unique triangle shape. At a cost of $650,000 dollars (about $19 million dollars in today’s money), Fenway Park first opened on April 20, 1912, after what was supposed to be its opening game was rained out on April 18th. The opening game would be against the Red Sox rival, the New York Highlanders (who’d eventually become the New York Yankees), where Boston went on to win the game, 7-6. Interestingly enough, the grand opening of Fenway would be overshadowed by the news of the day, as continuing coverage of the tragic sinking of the Titanic dominated newspaper headlines.
First years (1912 – 1918)
One of the original features of Fenway Park was a 25 foot tall wall in left field, that would later famously become known as the “Green Monster ”, due to its imposing size and difficulty of hitting over it. The wall’s height is necessary because of the park’s close proximity to Lansdowne Street. A shorter wall would allow baseballs to easily travel into the streets, and possibly hit nearby shops. For many years, the wall had actually had a net installed at the top to prevent balls from going over and into the street. During its early years, the wall was completely covered in advertisements and was more simply known as “The Wall”. It didn’t get its Green Monster nickname until 1947, when the advertisements were taken down and the wall was painted green. Another original feature of the park, and of the Green Monster, was a 10-foot tall mound that sat at the base of the wall. It formed a slope that extended from the center field flagpole all the way to the left field foul pole. The incline served as sort of a precursor to the dirt warning track which would become more common in ballparks later on, and also doubled as an overflow seating area. During crowded games, fans could sit in the bleachers set up in front of the left field wall. However, when the bleachers were removed during less attended games, this meant that the left fielder would have to run uphill to catch any fly balls that were hit toward the left field wall. In that era, the Red Sox had a left fielder named Duffy Lewis, who became quite skilled at running uphill and making outs with no trouble at all. In fact, he became so popular that the incline was often referred to as “Duffy’s Cliff”. Spanning a little over the park’s first 20 years, “Duffy’s Cliff” remained a unique feature until 1934 when the decision was made to flatten it during renovations.
The 1910’s were quite a successful time for the Red Sox. Starting in 1912, when Fenway first opened, the club won 105 games, capturing the American League pennant. They’d later defeat the New York Giants in the World Series, winning four of the eight games played. They had to extend the series to eight games due to one game ending in a tie due to lack of available light to continue playing. In fact, night games in baseball wouldn’t become a regular occurrence until the late 1930’s. Pitcher Smokey Joe Wood, and outfielders Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper, were some of the Red Sox star players around this era which helped the team draw crowds to games. In 1914, Boston’s new owner Joseph Lannin signed an up and coming pitcher named George Herman Ruth, or who’d later become more widely known as “Babe Ruth”. Prior to that time, Ruth had been playing with a minor league club, the Baltimore Orioles. Not to be confused with the major league team the Baltimore Orioles, which is a different organization that moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954 . Ruth would help the Red Sox capture the American League pennant once more in 1915, winning 18 games that season. In an interesting move, Joseph Lannin decided to not have the Red Sox play their home games at Fenway Park during the 1915 World Series. Opting instead to play at the Boston Braves’ brand new field, wanting to take advantage of the 40,000 seating capacity the stadium offered. Amazingly, the Red Sox pitching depth was so deep that they hardly even used Babe Ruth during the series against the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the championship in five games. The next season, Boston continued their success once again by reaching the World Series. Ruth pitched 14 innings in game 2, in a 2-1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins (who later became known as the Brooklyn Dodgers). For the second year in a row, the Red Sox also played their home games at Braves Field during the series, where they’d go on to clinch the championship in game five in front of a then record crowd of 42,620 people. With the United States entering the fight in World War I in 1917, many baseball players either enlisted voluntarily or were drafted into military service. This left quite a number of vacancies on each team, and Babe Ruth who was somewhat dissatisfied with only being used as a pitcher, took the opportunity to play other positions, gaining him more playing time. Between the 1917 and ‘18 seasons, Ruth emerged as a breakout hitter, hitting .300 or above in each season. By the end of the 1918 no season, Ruth had become one of the league’s best and most versatile players. Boston would end up reaching the World Series again in 1918, this time facing the Chicago Cubs. This marked the return of playing at Fenway Park since the 1912 World Series for the team. Boston ultimately defeated Chicago in six games, securing the Red Sox’s fourth World Series title in just seven years, and fifth championship overall in the franchise’s history.
The Curse (1919 – 1923)
Prior to the 1917 season, Red Sox owner Joseph Lannin decided to sell the team to a theater producer and director named, Harry Frazee for $675,000. Even after enjoying his team’s success, Lannin was quoted saying, “I am too much of a fan to be an owner.” Frazee’s time in control of the team however would become infamous, as he sold most of the team’s players away (mainly to the New York Yankees) in return for a quick infusion of cash. Frazee’s theater productions did not always perform well financially, and he had to routinely borrow money from the Red Sox to pay for theater expenses. Making matters worse, World War I had shortened the 1917 and 1918 baseball seasons and attendance fell considerably. It was also no secret that American League president Ban Johnson wanted Frazee out as the Red Sox owner due to Frazee publicly criticizing Johnson over his handling of league business pertaining to issues brought on by the war. One of Frazee’s biggest fears was Johnson revoking his ownership of the Red Sox, and losing one of his biggest money makers. While Frazee was the sole owner of the team, he only owned a portion of Fenway Park, which was mainly held by Fenway Realty Trust (which was controlled by the team’s former owners, John Taylor and Joseph Lanin). Frazee figured if he could own Fenway Park outright, that would complicate any plans by Johnson to replace him as the owner as the Red Sox would be left without a stadium to play in.
So by the spring of 1920, even though he was already pretty deep in debt, Frazee entered into discussions to buy Fenway Park after first setting a money dispute with the team’s former owner Joseph Lannin. A few months earlier, Frazee also made a deal with the Yankees to send Babe Ruth to New York for $100,000, which at the time was the largest deal ever made for a player. The sale also included a loan from Yankees owner, Jacob Ruppert of $300,000 to Frazee which was financially backed by the mortgage on Fenway Park. Not long after Ruth was sold, Frazee and Taylor finalized a deal that would make Frazee the sole owner of Fenway Park. With Ruth, and many of the talented Red Sox players traded away, Boston would struggle greatly over the next decade. Babe Ruth would of course go on to be considered one of the greatest to ever play the game, holding a number of all-time records including the most home runs in a season and most home runs in a career by the time of his retirement in 1935. Frazee’s ownership of the team wouldn’t last long after the Ruth sale, as he ended up selling the team to one of Ban Johnson’s buddies Bob Quinn for just over $1.2 million in 1923. Ruth coming to the Yankees was considered the beginning of the “Curse of the Bambino” which would loom over the Red Sox franchise over most of the next century, in which they failed to win a championship for 86 years.
Fenway Renovations (1924 – 1939)
Bob Quinn’s reign as owner of the team wouldn’t fare much better than Frazee’s, as he too became cash strapped when one of the co-owners of the club, Palmer Winslow passed away in 1927. The remaining co-owners didn’t have enough money to properly finance the team, so the club and Fenway Park languished into the early 1930’s. In the following years after the stock market crash of 1929, Quinn had finally had enough and decided to sell the Red Sox. A lumber magnate named Thomas Yawkey purchased the team from Quinn for $1.5 million dollars. Yawkey immediately set out to turn the team around by buying highly talented players, as well as spending over a million dollars on renovations to Fenway Park. The renovations were necessary, as a fire that broke out in 1926 badly damaged the bleachers on the third base side of the park. Bob Quinn was so cash strapped that he never even bothered to replace the seats, and so there was a huge empty space that became foul ball territory. Another fire broke out during renovations in 1934, which did further damage to the Lansdowne Street side of the stadium. One of the changes was replacing the Green Monster’s original wooden wall (which was a fire hazard) to a new wall made out of concrete and covered in tin. The height was also increased from 25 feet to 37 feet. Many of the wooden grandstand areas around the park were also replaced with concrete and steel. A hand operated scoreboard was added as a feature to the wall as well, with a state of the art lighting system that indicated balls and strikes. The scores themselves are manually updated throughout the game, while also showing the out of town scores for the fourteen other teams (as there were 16 Major League teams at the time).
Fenway Park has also played host to other sports over the years, especially during the economic downturn of the 30’s. In fact, between 1920 and 1956 boxing matches were held as regular events at Fenway. The first of which took place on October 9, 1920, featuring a memorable one between John Lester Johnson and Battling McCreery. The fight was rumored to be fixed so after the match, an incensed Johnson punched McCreery when he tried to shake his hand. After managing to knock Johnson out of the ring, McCreery picked up a chair and hit Johnson over the head. Fenway Park has also hosted many soccer matches over the years, most recently with Liverpool F.C. (which is owned by current Red Sox owners Fenway Sports Group), facing off against the Spanish team Sevilla futbol club in July of 2019. And speaking of football, there were a number of American Football games at Fenway in its early years as well. Some notable teams that called Fenway home at one time or another, were the NFL’s Boston Redskins who played there between 1933 and 1936. The Redskins relocated to the Washington D.C. area as season later in 1937, and are now known today as the Washington Commanders. Between 1963 and 1968, the Boston Patriots of the AFL played their home games at Fenway Park. After the NFL-AFL merger was completed in 1970, each team was required to play in a stadium that had a minimum capacity of 50,000. Although the Patriots had been splitting their time between different venues like Harvard Stadium, Alumni Stadium, and Fenway Park (neither of which had 50,000 seats), they did eventually build the 60,000 seat Schaefer Stadium in 1971.
Pesky’s Pole (1940 – 1949)
After struggling mightily in the 1920’s and most of the 30’s, the Red Sox and fans at Fenway Park were ready for change in the 1940’s. One player who had an immediate impact after his contract was purchased by the club, was a left fielder named Ted Williams. He quickly broke out as one of the game’s biggest stars, especially after hitting an incredible .406 in 1941 (as of the writing of this article, he’s still the last player to hit over .400 in a season). In 1940, the bullpen area that had been located in foul territory at Fenway Park, was moved in front of the right-center outfield seats. The relocated bullpen wall was 23 feet closer than the old wall, making it a little easier for a left handed hitter like Williams to deposit home runs into the bullpen. In fact the area was soon nicknamed “Williamsburg” by baseball writer’s for William’s ability to do just that. A few months into the 1946 season, Williams hit the longest home run ever in Fenway Park history measured at a distance of 502 feet. The ball actually struck a man in the head, bouncing off of it and landing several rows beyond his seat. In 1984, a specially painted red seat in the right-center bleachers was added that marks the spot where the ball landed. Later in the 1946 season, Williams helped Boston clinch the American League pennant (their first in 28 years). After winning game five of the World Series, the Red Sox took a 3-2 series lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately for Boston, an injured Ted Willams struggled during the series only hitting .200, and the Cardinals went on to win the next two games, winning the series in seven games.
Another popular player during that time, was an infielder named Johnny Pesky. Although not partially known for his power hitting, the right field pole at Fenway became known as “Pesky’s Pole”. The nickname was coined by former Red Sox pitcher, Mel Parnell who came up with the name after an eventful ending to one his starts in 1948. Parnell claimed that Pesky hit a game winning home run that landed just shy of the right foul line, winning the game for Boston and Parnell. However, baseball historians have noted that game records show no such home run occurring in the manner in which Parnell described, with the only home run that Pesky hit during one of Parnell’s starts being a two-run shot against the Tigers during the first inning of a game in June of 1950. In either case, the nickname stuck and became part of the stadium’s lore when Mel Parnell became a broadcaster for the team during the 1960’s and often made reference to “Pesky’s Pole” down the right field line. In 2006, in celebration of Pesky’s 87th birthday, the team officially named the right field foul pole, “Pesky’s Pole” with a plaque at the base of it. Earlier that season, Fenway Park had gone under a series of changes in anticipation of the 1946 All-star game. Additional press box seats were added called “Sky-view” seats, and they were sold to regular public when they were not in use by the press, thus creating the park’s first small upper-deck seating section. The following season saw the addition of light towers to the stadium, allowing for the park’s first ever night game to take place on June 13, 1947 where Boston beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3.
Yawkey Way (1950 – 1979)
Over the next three decades, Fenway Park would see only minor additions or changes to the stadium. Since the park first opened, both the visiting and home clubhouses were located right next to each other. But, after the conclusion of a game in May of 1952, a fight broke out between Yankees second baseman Billy Martin and Red Sox center fielder Jimmy Piersall inside the tunnel that connects the clubhouses to the field. Because of this, owner Tom Yawkey decided a change had to be made. Prior to the 1953 season, the visiting clubhouse was moved to the third base side, away from the Red Sox clubhouse which is situated on the first base side of the park. A new tunnel was then constructed that connected the visiting clubhouse to the playing field. Although not actually a part of the park itself, the iconic CITGO sign first appeared looking over Fenway in 1965. While the company’s original sign had existed in the location since 1940, CITGO introduced what became the iconic trifold logo in 1965. The sign is 60 feet wide, and 60 feet tall, giving it the appearance of being right next to the park on TV, when in reality it’s actually about 1,200 feet away from home plate. During the oil crisis that came from the Iranian revolution of the late 1970’s and early 80’s the sign went dark, and did not light up for several seasons. CITGO actually had planned to take the sign down, but in 1983, due to popular demand the sign was renovated with all new lights, and given a special relighting ceremony. Over the years, it’s been renovated a number of times and has remained a unique and iconic part of one of baseball’s greatest backdrops. After the 1975 season, a new electronic scoreboard was added just above the left-center field bleachers. The 40 by 24 foot state of the art scoreboard could show video, and replays to the crowd for the first time. As part of the $1.5 million dollar renovation project, the entire green monster wall was rebuilt, while also removing the older electronic scoreboard that had been located on the green monster since 1962. The reconstructed wall addressed dead spots on the wall, where balls would bounce off it in unpredictable ways creating problems for Red Sox fielders.
In addition, metric distance markers were added throughout the park as it was thought at the time that the United States would switch over to the metric system due to the “Metric Conversion Act of 1975” passing through Congress. However, the act never gained any further traction after it’s passing and by 1982, the group tasked with overseeing it’s implantation, the United States Metric Board was disbanded. Fenway Park would still list the metric distances until the 2002 season when they were finally removed. One more famous event that occurred at Fenway Park during this time period happened in game six of the 1975 World Series, between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. With the game tied 6-6 heading into the bottom of the 12th inning, Boston’s Carlton Fisk hit a deep ball into left field off of Red’s pitcher Pat Darcy. The ball was so close to going foul that Fisk could be seen waving his arms to his right, seemingly willing the ball to stay fair. The ball ended up banging off of the left field foul pole, giving Fisk the game winning home run. Although the Red Sox ultimately lost the series in seven games, Fisk’s home run became one the most recognizable sports moments in history. Thirty years after the home run, in 2005 the Red Sox honored Fisk by renaming the left field foul pole, “Fisk Pole” in similar fashion to the park’s right field pole, Pesky’s Pole. Just a couple of seasons after Fisk’s home run, in 1977 Fenway Park changed its address from “24 Jersey Street” to “4 Yawkey Way”. The city of Boston officially renamed Jersey Street to Yawkey Way in honor of Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey who had recently passed away the year before. However, in 2018 the street’s name reverted back to its original name of Jersey Street due to the team wanting to distance itself from Tom Yawkey’s notoriously racist past, which included refusing to sign black players and becoming the last team in baseball to integrate in 1959.
New Fenway Park (1980 – 1999)
During the 1980’s Fenway went under a series of changes and renovations starting with a project to replace the stadium’s roof while also adding in luxury boxes. Construction lasted over several seasons and was completed in 1983, with the addition of 23 new luxury boxes it brought Fenway’s total up to 44. In 1988, the team added a brand new multicolored video board which replaced the electronic scoreboard that had been in center field since 1976. Later in 1988, the stadium went under another mult-year renovation project to add more premium seating throughout the park. The 600 club, which debuted during the 1989 season offered padded seats in a glass enclosed section. Because some people like watching baseball through a window…I guess? To make way for the new premium section, the old press box had to be torn down and rebuilt on top of it. The 600 club would later be renamed to the .406 club, in honor of Ted Williams’ epic 1941 season, where he finished with a batting average of .406. The glassed-in section became somewhat controversial to Red Sox fans and players since it’s introduction in 1989. The private enclosed area seemed to be at odds with the charm of Fenway’s intimate confines, this fact rubbed a lot of Red Sox fans the wrong way. Some players, like Wade Boggs, insisted that the glass enclosure actually changed wind patterns at Fenway which prevented numerous home runs from happening. Ultimately, the 406 club was renamed once again to the EMC club in 2006, while also removing the glass windows from the section.
By the late 1980’s the prevailing thought around baseball stadiums and how the public viewed them had begun to change quite significantly. Starting from the mid 1960’s, with the introduction of the Astrodome, nicknamed at the time as the “Eighth wonder of the World” due to the stadium’s futuristic design and specially created playing turf, the trend in baseball had been to build multi-purpose dome shaped venues that could house both baseball and football teams. But in 1989, the Baltimore Orioles began construction on their brand new park that would be known as “Oriole Park at Camden Yards”. The design of Camden Yards was the first of the modern stadiums to utilize a retro-classic feel, taking inspiration from older jewel box style parks like Fenway Park, and it would be constructed for baseball purposes only. The stadium became such a hit with fans and baseball purists that many teams began to devise plans to build new stadiums of their own. In fact as of the 2022 season, two-thirds of Major League ball clubs have replaced their stadiums since Camden Yards first opened, with many copying the retro-classic esetic. With the rise in popularity of newer jewel-box styled stadiums over the next decade, many began to wonder if the Red Sox would ever consider building a new stadium?
By the late 1990’s, what had been unthinkable to many Red Sox fans soon became reality, when pn May 15, 1999 Red Sox CEO John Harrington officially announced that a new ballpark would be built to replace the iconic Fenway Park. The project called for moving Fenway’s home plate back 206 feet, to across the street where the new stadium would be constructed. Essentially, the new ball park would be a replica of the old Fenway, keeping with the same field dimensions, but with more capacity, luxury boxes, and amenities. Parts of the old Fenway would still be preserved, while the rest would be torn down and converted into a museum and play park for kids. The Red Sox claimed that Fenway Park as it stood was obsolete, and a new park must be built that generated more revenue so that the team could keep up with rising player salaries. The team also said that they would privately finance the entire construction of the new stadium, but they needed $275 million dollars in public funds to help improve and upgrade the streets and transportation around the stadium. A few years before this announcement, there had been the idea floated around by Massachusetts Governor William Weld to build a sports “Megaplex” that would be home to both the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, and a brand new convention center in Boston. The Patriots had been looking to build a new stadium of their own as well, and had even flirted with the idea of moving to Hartford, Connecticut after Governor John Roland practically begged the Patriots to move there by offering to pay for pretty much everything. Getting back to Fenway Park, the megaplex deal never came to be, and so the team opted to try and build a new park on their own adjacent to the original Fenway Park. Understandably, many residents were opposed to tearing down an historical site like Fenway Park and formed opposition groups like “Save Fenway” to try and stop the plan from happening. After months and months of back and forth over the amount of public funds that would be allocated to the project, the proposed idea came to an end when the owners decided to sell the team instead. Some would say that the entire new Fenway project plan was just a ruse to jack up the value of the team so that the owners could sell, while others thought that John Harrington simply got tired of waiting and moved on. Either way, the new owners of the Red Sox, Fenway Sports Group led by John Henry declared that with sizable investments in renovating Fenway Park, it would here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The Broken Curse (2000 – 2004)
A couple of seasons before the planned Fenway Park replacement was announced, the team introduced their first mascot “Wally” the Green Monster on April 13, 1997. Wally’s backstory includes that he’s lived inside of the Green Monster wall since 1947, and has seen many great players over the years but decided for whatever reason that 1997 would be a good time to finally come out of the wall. Hailey’s comet maybe? Who knows. Wally was immediately popular with kids, but it took some time for some of the older more traditional fans of the team to come around on him. Wally’s debut came just in time for the 1999 All Star Game, which Fenway Park was selected as the host. This marked the third time in the park’s history that they’d host the All-Star Game, having done so in 1946, and 1961. In anticipation of the All-Star game, a couple of renovation projects went underway to enhance the park. Both the home and visiting club houses were updated and remodeled, while auxiliary press boxes were added on the roof of the far left and right field sides of the stadium. The additional press boxes that were temporary for the All-Star game were later torn down and replaced with permanent structures that were turned into suites for regular season games. During the All-Star break of the 2001 season, the park’s iconic scoreboard in left field that had been there since 1934 was replaced with a modern replica version. The reason for the replacement was that the 1934 version had become somewhat warped, littered with holes, and had water damage. The original scoreboard was not lost to history though, as it was saved and moved to South Dakota remaining in storage. After the sale of the team in 2002, the stadium underwent an extensive ten year $285 million dollar renewal project, to be completed in time for the park’s 100th anniversary in 2012. Before the 2003 season, seats were added on top of the Green Monster for the first time, giving fans one of the most unique viewing experiences in all of baseball. Permanent advertisements were also added to the Green Monster for the first time since 1946.
In 2004, the Red Sox found themselves once again matching up against their rivals the New York Yankees in the ALCS. The previous year, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in seven games after Aaron Boone hit a series clinching home run in extra innings. The 2004 series got off to a disastrous start for the Red Sox, when they lost the first three games and were facing elimination. In the bottom of the ninth in game 4, Boston was down 4-3 facing the Yankees closer Mariono Rivera when he walked the first batter Kevin Millar. Dave Roberts then came into the game to pinch run for Millar, and on the next pitch proceeded to steal second base putting the Red Sox in scoring position. Bill Muller then hit a game tying single into center field, which ultimately sent the game into extra innings. In the 12th inning, David Ortiz hit the game winning two-run home run, stunning the Yankees. Ortiz would win it again for Boston with a late home run in the 14th inning in Game 5. In the next game, Curt Schilling pitched with a torn tendon in his right ankle but managed to shut down the Yankees through most of the game. The series culminated in a blow out win for Boston in game 7, thus completing the incredible 0-3 comeback. This would be the first time Fenway Park would host the World Series since the 1986 World Series, when the Red Sox infamously blew the lead in game 6 at Shea Stadium after a routine ground ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs allowing the New York Mets to score. The series was extended to a seventh and final game, in which they lost to New York in heartbreaking fashion 5-8. However, 2004 would be different. Riding on the momentum from the previous series after defeating the Yankees in such a thrilling comeback, the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games, having never trailed in any point during the series. For the first time in 86 years, the Boston Red Sox were World Series champions and the curse of Babe Ruth was finally broken. 2004 was just the beginning of a renaissance in Red Sox success on the field, as of the writing of this article, they’ve gone on to win three more World Series titles in 2007, 2013, and 2018.
Fenway at 100 (2005 – present)
In 2010, hockey came to Fenway Park for the first time when the NHL’s annual Winter Classic was held at the stadium. The hometown Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1, on New Year’s day 2010, in front of a sold out crowd of 38,112. The event was so popular that the annual “Frozen Fenway” series between local amateur, collegiate, and high school hockey programs is held at the park every year. Fenway also gained the distinction of becoming the first stadium to have hosted the Winter Classic twice, as the Boston Bruins played the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2023 edition of the Winter Classic. One final major addition before the park’s 100th anniversary was the installing of three high definition screens on top of the center field seating areas. The biggest screen is 38 feet tall and 100 feet wide, while two smaller screens were installed on either side of the main video board. The left-center screen is 1,700 square feet, and the right center screen is 480 square feet. Through improvements to the concourse and seating areas around the park, capacity was actually expanded to over 37,000 available seats for the first time in 2011. But Fenway Park is unique in that the stadium actually has different capacity limits for both day and night games. Day games actually have less capacity due to some of the center field seats being blocked off to help create a better batter’s eye for the players. For the night games the center field seats are uncovered and sold, which adds around an extra 400 seats or so to the capacity limit.
Over the years the Red Sox have honored the contributions of past players by retiring their numbers, and in some cases building statues of them just outside the park. As of the recording of the writing of this article, the team has retired 11 numbers. This list includes Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Jackie Robinson, Pedro Marteniz, and most recently David Ortiz. The retired numbers can be seen inside the stadium on the right field overhang, near Pesky’s Pole, and outside the stadium near the Gate B entrance. Also near Gate B are the statues of former players throughout Red Sox history. The first statue of Ted Williams which was unveiled on April 16, 2004 depicts Williams placing his cap on a boy’s head. Williams was well known for his charitable work, especially with sick children and was outspoken for his support for the Jimmy Fund which raises money for the Dana-Farber cancer institute. The second statue that was unveiled on September 6, 2010 is unique in that it depicts four players standing together. The statue known as the “Teammates” statue features Bobby Doerr, Dom Dimaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams (making it technically his second statue). The four men were best of friends on and off the field, and stayed together as teammates for seven seasons, helping the Red Sox clinch the American League pennant in 1946. The next statue was unveiled on September 22, 2013, is of Carl Yastrzemski. The 18 time all-star won the most valuable player award in 1967, after an incredible season hitting 44 home runs, 121 runs batted in, and finished the season with a .326 batting average. This earned him the American League triple crown, a rare feat in the game. Yastremski later became a first ballot inductee into the baseball hall of fame in 1989. On April 20, 2012, exactly 100 years to the day that Fenway Park opened, the Red Sox celebrated by inviting players, and managers, past and present to commemorate the historic milestone. Some of those in attendance included Red Sox legends Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Cal Yastrzemski, Normar Garicipara, Terry Francona, Pedro Martinenz, and many more. One of the guests invited to throw out the first pitch was Caroline Kennedy, whose great grandfather, the mayor of Boston John Fritzgerald had thrown out the first pitch when the park first opened in 1912. For the game the Red Sox played the New York Yankees, with each team wearing era specific throwbacks, just as the two teams had originally faced each other 100 years before on opening day. Prior to the start of the 2012 season, Fenway Park was added to the National Register of Historical Places, joining other stadiums like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ohio Stadium, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So what did you think of Fenway Park almost being torn down in the early 2000’s? And do you think there’ll ever be a time when they replace Fenway? Let me know in the comments below!