Fenway is the home of the Red Sox and is the oldest ballpark currently in use. It was opened in September 25, 1911. Every Red Sox home game since May 15, 2003, has sold out; in 2008, the park sold out its 456th consecutive Red Sox game, breaking a Major League record. It has been called America's Most Beloved Ballpark.
The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. In 1911, owner John I. Taylor bought the developed land bordered by Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street into a larger baseball stadium.
Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or "fens", to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. However, given that Taylor's family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, the promotional value of the naming at the time has been cited as well. Like many classic ballparks, Fenway Park was constructed on an asymmetrical block, with consequent asymmetry in its field dimensions.
Attendance at the park was not always been great, and reached its low point late in the 1965 season with two games having paid attendance under 500 spectators. Its fortunes have risen since the Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, and on September 8, 2008 with a game versus the Tampa Bay Rays, Fenway Park broke the all-time Major League record with its 456th consecutive sellout, surpassing the previous record held by Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland, Ohio.On Wednesday, June 17, 2009 the park celebrated its 500th consecutive Red Sox sellout. According to WBZ-TV, the team joined three NBA teams which achieved 500 consecutive home sellouts; one of those teams was the Larry Bird-era Boston Celtics of the 1980s. Former pitcher Bill Lee has called Fenway Park "a shrine". Today, is considered to be one of the most well-known sports venues in the world.
FeaturesEditThe front of Fenway Park facing Yawkey Way. A view of Fenway Park and the surrounding neighborhood.Its location in the Kenmore Square area includes many buildings of similar height and architecture, causing it to blend in well with its surroundings. This results in the park appearing smaller and less imposing than other major outdoor sports venues in the country. When pitcher Roger Clemens arrived in Boston for the first time in 1984, he took a taxi from Logan Airport and was sure the driver had misunderstood his directions when he announced their arrival at the park. Clemens recalled telling the driver "No, Fenway Park, it's a baseball stadium ... this is a warehouse." Only when the driver told Clemens to look up and he saw the light towers did he realize he was in the right place.
Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field), and both have a significant number of obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks. As discussed by George Will in Men at Work (MacMillan, 1990), Fenway Park is a "hitters' ballpark", with its short right-field fence (302 feet), narrow foul ground, and generally closer-than-normal outfield fences. By Rule 1.04, Note(a), all parks built after 1958 have been required to have foul lines at least 325 feet long and a center-field fence at least 400 feet from home plate. Regarding the narrow foul territory, Will writes (p. 175): The narrow foul territory in Fenway Park probably adds 5 to 7 points onto batting averages. Since World War II, the Red Sox have had 18 batting champions (through 1989)... Five to 7 points are a lot, given that there may be only a 15- or 20-point spread between a good hitting team and a poor hitting team. Some observers might feel that these unique aspects of Fenway give the Red Sox an advantage over their opponents, given that the Red Sox hitters play 81 games at the home stadium, while each opponent plays only a handful (9 for AL East teams, 6 for some AL teams, and only 3 for other AL teams and the NL teams which play at Fenway for interleague games). Will does not share this view (p. 117).
Will's book pre-dates the smaller retro ballparks and the home run barrage that began in the early/mid-1990s, as well as the Red Sox World Series wins of 2004 and 2007.
Historically, Fenway Park has been decidedly unfriendly to left-handed pitchers, Babe Ruth being one of the few southpaw exceptions. Ruth started his career as a pitcher (mostly during the "dead-ball era"), and had a career record of 94 wins, 46 losses (.671 winning percentage). Ruth also set a World Series record by pitching 29⅔ scoreless innings, a record that lasted until broken by Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees in 1961. Fenway Park had the smallest seating capacity in the major leagues for a number of years, but that is no longer the case. A number of the classic ballparks had seating capacities under 40,000, and some were smaller than Fenway. Montreal's Jarry Park was smallest of all the modern ballparks, at about 28,000. At the time of Jarry Park's closing in 1977, the other old ballparks were gone, and Fenway's capacity was listed (according to Sporting News Baseball Guides) at 33,513, making it the smallest in the majors at that point. Fenway began to grow incrementally over the next three decades, as pockets of seating areas were added from time to time.
Before the 2008 season, Fenway Park's capacity was increased to 39,928, where it remains following additional renovations for the 2009 season rendering Fenway as the fourth smallest, behind the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Tropicana Field and PNC Park. Renovations prior to the 2009 season now allow the Sox to sell roughly 350 more tickets each game, though the official capacity has not increased.
There have previously been proposals to increase the seating capacity to as much as 45,000 through the expansion of the upper decks, while others (notably former team owners, the JRY Trust) have called for razing the historic ballpark entirely and building a similar, but larger and more modern, scalable facility nearby. These proposals are now effectively moot as a result of the alternative modernization plan undertaken by the current ownership.
It would be fairly simple to completely replace the upper deck with a modern multi-level structure similar to today's retro-modern ballparks; the upper deck was never a part of the original 1912 structure, meaning that it has far less historic value, and replacing just the upper deck could drastically modernize the stadium. The proposed replacement park (see above) called for a large scoreboard atop the Green Monster. Doing so in the current ballpark could allow the right field seats to be expanded.
The Green MonsterEdit
The Green Monster is the nickname of the thirty-seven-foot, two-inch (11.3 m) left field wall in the park. Only 305–315 feet to home plate, it is a popular target for right-handed hitters. The Green Monster is one of the reasons that Fenway Park is a hitters park.Part of the original ballpark construction of 1912, the wall is made of wood, but was covered in tin and concrete in 1934 when the scoreboard was added. The wall was covered in hard plastic in 1976. The scoreboard is still manually updated throughout the game today. Despite the name, the Green Monster was not painted green until 1947; before that it was covered with ads. The Monster designation is relatively new. For most of its history it was simply called the wall. In recent years, terrace-style seating has been added on top of the wall.
The TriangleEdit"The Triangle" is a region of center field where the walls form a triangle whose far corner is 420 feet (128 m) from home plate. That deep right-center point is conventionally given as the center field distance. True center is unmarked, 390 feet from home plate, to the left of "The Triangle" when viewed from home plate.
There was once a smaller "triangle" at the left end of the bleachers in center field, posted as 388 feet (118.3 m). The end of the bleachers form a right angle with the Green Monster and the flagpole stands within that little triangle. That is not the true power alley, but deep left-center. The true power alley distance is not posted. The foul line intersects with the Green Monster at nearly a right angle, so the power alley could be estimated at 336 feet (102.4 m), assuming the power alley is 22.5 degrees away from the foul line as measured from home plate.
"Williamsburg" was the name, invented by sportswriters, for the bullpen area built in front of the right-center field bleachers in 1940. It was built there primarily for the benefit of Ted Williams, to enable him and other left-handed batters to hit more home runs, since it was 23 feet closer than the bleacher wall. Ironically fewer than two dozen of Williams' home runs would end up falling into the bullpen area.
"The Belly" is the sweeping curve of the box-seat railing from the right end of "Williamsburg" around to the right field corner. The box seats were added when the bullpens were built in 1940. The right field line distance from the 1934 remodeling was reduced by some 30 feet.
Ted Williams' Red SeatEditThe lone red seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. Ted Williams' homer was officially measured at 502 feet (153 m)—well beyond "Williamsburg". According to Hit Tracker Online, the ball, if unobstructed, would have flown 520 to 535 feet.
The ball landed on Joseph A. Boucher, penetrating his large straw hat and hitting him in the head. A confounded Boucher was later quoted as saying,
|“||How far away must one sit to be safe in this park? I didn't even get the ball. They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head, I was no longer interested. I couldn't see the ball. Nobody could. The sun was right in our eyes. All we could do was duck. I'm glad I did not stand up.||”|
No other player at Fenway Park has ever hit the seat since, although on June 23, 2001 Manny Ramírez hit two home runs; one estimated at 463 feet and another one with an official estimate of 501 feet. The latter blast struck a light tower above the Green Monster denying it a true landing point, to which the official estimate deferred to Williams' record placing Ramirez's home run exactly one foot short.
As noted in the 2007 book The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, researcher Bill Jenkinson found evidence that on May 25, 1926, Babe Ruth hit one in the pre-1934 bleacher configuration which landed five rows from the top in right field, an estimated 545 feet from home plate. Ruth also hit several other "Ruthian" blasts at Fenway that landed across the street behind straightaway center field, estimated at 500 feet.
Foul PolesEditPesky's Pole is the name for the pole on the right field foul line, which stands a mere 302 feet from home plate, the shortest porch (left or right field) in Major League Baseball. Oddly, this distance has never been posted on the foul pole. Despite the short wall, home runs in this area are relatively rare, since the fence curves away from the foul pole sharply. For comparison's sake, the much larger "Old" Comiskey Park in Chicago had several dozen home runs hit over its roof, yet no one has ever hit one over Fenway's much shorter right field roof. The pole was named after Johnny Pesky, a light-hitting shortstop and long-time coach for the Red Sox, who hit some of his six home runs at Fenway Park around the pole but never off the pole. Pesky and the Red Sox give credit to pitcher Mel Parnell for coining the name. The most notable for Pesky is a two-run homer in the eighth inning of the 1946 Opening Day game to win the game (in his career, Pesky hit 17 home runs). In similar fashion, Mark Bellhorn hit what proved to be the game-winning home run off of Julián Tavárez, in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series off that pole's screen.
On September 27, 2006, on Pesky's 87th birthday, the Red Sox organization officially dedicated the right field foul pole as Pesky's Pole with a commemorative plaque placed at its base.
In a ceremony before the Red Sox's 2005 interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds, the pole on the left field foul line atop the Green Monster was named Fisk Foul Pole, in honor of Carlton Fisk. Fisk provided one of baseball's most enduring moments in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Reds. Facing Reds right-hander Pat Darcy in the 12th inning with the score tied at 6, Fisk hit a long fly ball down the left field line. It appeared to be heading foul, but Fisk, after initially appearing unsure of whether or not to continue running to first base, famously jumped and waved his arms to the right as if to somehow direct the ball fair. It ricocheted off the foul pole, winning the game for the Red Sox and sending the series to a seventh and deciding game the next night, which Cincinnati won.