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Fenway Park

Fenway Park is the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club. Located near busy Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts, it is the oldest of all current Major League Baseball stadiums. The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. In 1911, owner John I. Taylor, who had changed the team's name from Americans to Red Sox four years earlier, sold the team at the same time he 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 district of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or “fens". 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.

The location of Fenway Park in the heavily commercial 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. Because of its age and constrained location in an urban neighborhood, the park has some unique features that are local landmarks in their own right, including “the Triangle”, “Pesky's Pole” and most notably the famous Green Monster in left field.

John Updike poetically described Fenway Park as a “lyric little bandbox” in a 1960 New Yorker essay about Ted Williams' last game entitled “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”. Attendance at the park has 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. Former pitcher Bill Lee has called Fenway Park “a shrine”.

Fenway hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1946, 1961, and 1999, and has played host to nine World Series. Fenway has also been the location of many other sporting and cultural events. Professional football teams the Boston Redskins and the Boston Patriots both spent several seasons playing home games at the park. Musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffett have performed at Fenway Park, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his last campaign speech there in 1944.

Features of the park

Like many classic ballparks, Fenway Park was constructed on an asymmetrical block, with consequent asymmetry in its field dimensions.

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. Just the same, when Satchel Paige first set foot in Fenway he said, "Huuuueee! This place is a pitchers' cemetery."

Fenway Park is one of the three remaining classic parks in major league baseball (the others being Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium, although Yankee Stadium was completely remodeled in the 1970s and is scheduled to be replaced for the 2009 season), and one of the only two, with Wrigley, to have a significant number of obstructed view seats, such as pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks.

"The Triangle"

Present day

"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.

Old feature

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"

"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. The name was inspired both by Colonial Williamsburg and Yankee Stadium's hitter-friendly right field area that was often called "Ruthville".

The Lone Red Seat

The lone red seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21), signifies the spot where the longest measurable home run ever hit inside Fenway Park's 1934 configuration landed. Ted Williams hit the home run on June 9, 1946 off Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers. Williams' bomb 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 one Joseph A. Boucher, who was supposedly taking a nap at the time, penetrating his large straw hat and hitting him in the head. A confounded Boucher was later quoted as saying,

Boucher was a Yankees fan, but his business required occasional trips to Boston, where he would often take in Red Sox games. After that hit, Boucher jokingly told reporters that he would take it as a sign from the baseball gods that he should be a Red Sox fan. The next day, the Boston Globe’s sports page headline ran, “Bullseye! Ted Williams Knocks Sense into Yankees Fan.”

No other player at Fenway Park has ever hit the seat since, although on June 23, 2001 Manny Ramírez hit two home runs; one measuring 463 feet and another one that was said to have traveled 501 feet. The 501 foot blast landed somewhere in the MassPike/Railroad cut beyond left field and 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.

"The Belly"

"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.

"Pesky's Pole"

Pesky'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 right field porch in Major League Baseball. The pole was named after Johnny Pesky, a light-hitting shortstop 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.

Fisk Foul Pole

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 "Pudge" 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.

The Green Monster

"Duffy's Cliff"

From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot-high incline in front of the then 25-foot high left field wall at Fenway Park, extending from the left-field foul pole to the center field flag pole. As a result, a left fielder in Fenway Park had to play part of the territory running uphill (and back down). Boston's first star left fielder, Duffy Lewis, mastered the skill so well that the area became known as "Duffy's Cliff".

The incline served two purposes:

  1. it was a support for a high wall;
  2. it was built to compensate for the difference in grades between the field and Lansdowne Street on the other side of that wall.

It also served as a spectator-friendly seating area during the dead-ball era when overflow crowds would sit on the incline behind ropes. It is often compared to the infamous left field "terrace" at Cincinnati's Crosley Field, but, in truth, the 15-degree all-grass incline there served an entirely different purpose: as an alternative to an all dirt warning track found in most other ballparks. It was a natural feature of the site on which Crosley Field and its predecessors were located; slightly less severe inclines were deliberately built in center and right fields to compensate. The incline in center field of Minute Maid Park has been considered a tribute to Duffy's Cliff.

As part of the 1934 remodeling of the ballpark, the bleachers and the wall itself, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey arranged to flatten the ground along the base of the wall, so that Duffy's Cliff no longer existed, and thus became part of the lore of Fenway Park. Thus the base of the left field wall is several feet below the grade level of Lansdowne Street, accounting for the occasional rat that might spook the scoreboard operators. ("The Fenway Project", ISBN 1-57940-091-4.)

For decades there was considerable debate about the true left field distance, which was posted as 315 feet (96 m). For years, Red Sox officials refused to remeasure the distance. Reportedly, The Boston Globe was able to sneak into Fenway Park and remeasure the line. When the paper's evidence was presented to the club in 1995, the line was finally remeasured by the Red Sox and restated at 310 feet (94.5 m). The companion 96 meters sign remained unchanged, until 1998, when it was corrected to 94.5 meters. A theory about the incorrect foul line distance is that the former 315 ft (96 m) measurement came from the Duffy's Cliff days. That measurement likely included the severity of the incline, and when the mound was leveled, the distance was never corrected. A quick study of the geometry of "Duffy's Cliff" suggests the theory has merit. Regardless of the posted distance, frustrated pitchers will always argue that the Green Monster is closer than the sign says.

EMC Club (formerly "The .406 Club" and "The 600 Club")

In 1983, private suites were added to the roof behind home plate. In 1988, 610 stadium club seats enclosed in glass and named the "600 Club", were added above the home plate bandstand, replacing the existing press box. The press box was then added to the top of the 600 Club. The 1988 addition is largely credited with changing the air currents in Fenway Park to the detriment of hitters. In the 1980s, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor published his scientific finding that the addition does, in fact, curtail home runs at Fenway Park, giving credence to that claim by players, coaches, and fans, most notably Wade Boggs.

In 2002, the organization renamed the club seats the ".406 Club" (in honor of Ted Williams' batting average in 1941), six days after his death. (Williams is the last player to hit .400 or better to finish a season in the major leagues.)

During the 2005–2006 offseason, as part of the continuing expansion efforts at Fenway Park, the existing .406 club was rebuilt. The second deck now features two open-air levels: the bottom level is the new "EMC Club" featuring 406 seats and concierge services, and above that, the State Street Pavilion, with 374 seats and a dedicated standing room area. The added seats are wider than the previous seats. All work was done by D'Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects of Somerville, MA.

"Canvas Alley"

A phrase made popular by Boston television commentators, "Canvas Alley" is the open alley behind the first base line where the grounds crew sits. Canvas Alley has recently been narrowed to accommodate seats. Contrary to common belief, it does not actually house the tarp. The tarp sits next to the camera pit which is next to the Red Sox dugout.

"Hitters' ballpark"

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). "Question: When you hear the phrase 'hitters' park', which parks come to mind? Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Which two teams have not won a World Series since 1908 and 1918, respectively? The Cubs and the Red Sox. Moral: It is bad to play in a park that is beastly to your pitchers." 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.

Public address announcers

Fenway Park has had four public address announcers in the over forty years dating back to the Impossible Dream season of 1967, with veteran composer and radio announcer Sherm Feller serving for 26 of those years. The most recent announcer, Carl Beane, began his career in radio in 1972 and has handled duties at Fenway since 2003.

Announcer Years
Sherm Feller 1967–1993
Leslie Sterling 1994–1996
Ed Brickley 1997–2002
Carl Beane 2003–current

Retired numbers

There are seven retired numbers above the right field grandstand. All of the numbers retired by the Red Sox are red on a white circle. Jackie Robinson's 42, which was retired by Major League Baseball, is blue on a white circle. The two are further delineated through the font difference; Boston numbers are in the same style as the Red Sox jerseys, while Robinson's number is in the more traditional "block" numbering found on the Dodgers jerseys.

The Red Sox policy on retiring uniform numbers was once one of the most stringent in baseball—the player had to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, play at least 10 years with the team, and retire as a member of the Red Sox. The final requiremnent was waived for Carlton Fisk as he had finished his playing career with the Chicago White Sox. However, Fisk was assigned a Red Sox front office job and effectively "finished" his baseball career with the Red Sox in this manner. In 2008 the current ownership relaxed the requirements further with the retirement of Johnny Pesky's number 6. Pesky has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but in light of his over fifty years of service to the club, the management made an exception.

Red Sox Retired Numbers
Number Player Position Red Sox Years Date Retired Notes
1 Bobby Doerr 2B 1937–44, 46–51 1988-05-21 US Army, 1945
4 Joe Cronin SS 1937–45 1984-05-29
6 Johnny Pesky SS, 3B, 2B 1942, 46–52 2008-09-28 US Navy, 1943–45
8 Carl Yastrzemski OF, 3B, 1B 1961–83 1989-08-06
9 Ted Williams OF 1939–42, 46–60 1984-05-29 US Marines, 1943–45, 52–53
27 Carlton Fisk C 1969–80 2000-09-04
42 Jackie Robinson Retired by Major League Baseball 1997-04-15

Ground rules

(all ground rules based on )

  • Foul poles are inside the field of play.
  • A ball going through the scoreboard, either on the bounce or fly, is a ground rule double.
  • A fly ball striking left-center field wall to right of or on the line behind the flag pole is a home run.
  • A fly ball striking wall or flag pole and bouncing into bleachers is a home run.
  • A fly ball striking line or right of same on wall in center is a home run.
  • A fly ball striking wall left of line and bouncing into bullpen is a home run.
  • A ball sticking in the bullpen screen or bouncing into the bullpen is a ground rule double.
  • A batted or thrown ball remaining behind or under canvas or in tarp cylinder is a ground rule double.
  • A fly ball that strikes the top of the ladder on the Green Monster and then bounces out of play is two bases.
  • A fly ball that lands above the red line on top of the Green Monster and bounces onto the field of play is ruled a home run

Changes to Fenway Park

  • In 1946, upper deck seats were installed; Fenway Park is essentially the first double-tiered ballpark in Boston since the South End Grounds of the 1880s.
  • In 1947, arc lights were installed at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox were the third-to-last team out of 16 major league teams to have lights in their home park.
  • In 1976, metric distances were added to the conventionally-stated distances because it was thought that the United States would adopt the metric system. Today, few American ballparks have metric distances posted. Fenway Park retained the metric measurement until mid-season 2002, when they were painted over. Also, Fenway's first message board was added over the center field bleachers.
  • In 1999 the auxiliary press boxes were added atop the roof boxes along the first and third base sides.
  • Before the 2003 season, seats were added to the Green Monster.
  • Before the 2004 season, seats were added to the right field roof, above the retired numbers, called the Budweiser Right Field Roof.
  • Before the 2005 season, a new drainage system was installed on the field. The system, along with new sod, was installed to prevent the field from becoming too wet to play on during light to medium rains, and to reduce the time needed to dry the field adequately. Work on the field was completed only weeks prior to spring training.
  • After the 2005 season, the Red Sox completed their plans for the .406 Club area, which became the EMC Club. The construction resulted in 852 pavilion club seats, 745 pavilion box seats, and approximately 200 pavilion standing-room seats along the left- and right-field lines, resulting in approximately 1300 additional seats.
  • The winter of 2006 renovations focused on renovating the luxury boxes as well as adding a new food concourse area and renovated bathrooms behind the third base grandstands.
  • Before the 2008 season, the temporary luxury boxes installed for the 1999 All-Star Game were removed and permanent ones were added to the State Street Pavilion level. Seats were also added down the left field line called the Coca-Cola Party-Deck. 100 standing-room tickets were also added to the pavilion increasing capacity to just under 40,000 people. The Coke bottles, installed in 1997, were also removed to return the light towers to their original state.

Proposed changes

The Red Sox added another 1,400 tickets for the 2008 season. In adding additional seating, the Red Sox plan to have 1,000 of the seats added over the three years be high-priced premium seats, to help deflate ticket costs and bring Fenway Park up to the MLB average of percentage of premium seating.

The Red Sox have also stated that at some point before the 2012 season, (Fenway Park's centennial) they would like to replace the old wood seats in the Grandstand section.

Proposed New Fenway Park

On May 15, 1999 then Red Sox CEO John Harrington announced plans for a New Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have the same dimensions on the field, include a new Green Monster, basically be a replica of the current park, but be modernized to replace some of the old features of Fenway Park. Some sections of the old Fenway Park were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout.

This was a highly controversial move, with groups such as "Save Fenway Park" created to try to save Fenway Park. Their efforts were ultimately successful, as the current owners announced on March 23, 2005 that plans for the New Fenway Park were abandoned and chose to stay in the current Fenway Park..

Seating capacity

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.

For the 2008 season, Fenway Park's capacity was increased to 39,928, rendering Fenway as the fourth smallest, behind the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Tropicana Field and PNC Park. The Red Sox ownership has stated publicly that it has no plans to increase capacity further.

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. Any such proposal in the future, though, would likely be met by strong local opposition.

Other uses

Baseball

The Red Sox's one-time cross-town rivals, the Boston Braves used Fenway Park for the 1914 World Series and the 1915 season until Braves Field was completed.

Since 1990 (except in 2005 when, because of field work, it was held in a minor league ballpark), Fenway Park has also played host to a baseball version of Boston-area intercollegiate sports' prestigious Beanpot tournament.

Beginning in 2006, the Red Sox have hosted the "Futures at Fenway" event, where two of their minor-league affiliates play a regular-season doubleheader as the "home" teams. In 2006, the Lowell Spinners and Pawtucket Red Sox played, with both winning. The 2007 event featured Lowell and the Portland Sea Dogs as the two featured farm clubs, again with both teams winning. Before the Futures day started, the most recent minor-league game held at Fenway had been the Eastern League All-Star Game in 1977.

The 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament was scheduled to be held at Fenway Park, but a scheduling conflict has caused the 2010 tournament to be scheduled at Fenway Park instead.

Soccer

On May 30, 1931, 8,000 fans came out to Fenway Park to see the New York Yankees of the American Soccer League beat Celtic 4 - 3. The Yankees goalkeeper, Johnny Reder, would later return to play for the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park was also used by the NASL team, Boston Beacons, as their home field for the 1968 season.

Football

Despite its relatively small size, Fenway Park's oblong-esque layout actually makes it a reasonably viable football facility. In 1926, the first American Football League's Boston Bulldogs played at both Fenway and Braves Field; the Boston Shamrocks of the second AFL did the same in 1936 and 1937. The National Football League's Boston Redskins (later becoming the Washington Redskins) played at Fenway for four seasons, 1933 to 1936, after playing their inaugural season in 1932 at Braves Field as the Boston Braves; the Boston Yanks played there in the 1940s; and the American Football League's Boston Patriots called Fenway Park home from 1963 to 1968 after moving to there from Nickerson Field, the direct descendant of Braves Field. At various times in the past, Boston College and Boston University teams have also played football games at Fenway Park.

Hockey

Fenway never hosted a hockey game, but was scheduled to do so in with Boston College and Boston University playing host to teams from the Midwest. The plan was scrapped, but Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has been lobbying the National Hockey League to have the Bruins play a homegame at Fenway.

Political speeches

One of the most famous campaign speeches in American political history was made at Fenway Park in the 1940 Presidential race, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised that he would not send American servicemen into foreign wars. During this time World War II was raging in Europe, but the United States was officially neutral, although it was aiding the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. This speech was noted repeatedly by Roosevelt's opponents, even after Japanese Imperial Naval forces attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, causing the United States to enter World War II.

Citizenship ceremony

On September 17th, 2008, Fenway Park was consecrated as a temporary federal court to host a naturalization ceremony. 3,032 immigrants from 140 countries sat in the box and loge seats along the first base line, stretching from right field in to home plate. The ceremony was lead by US District Judge Patti Saris and lasted about an hour. The greatest number to become citizens were from the Dominican Republic, the homeland of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and former Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Concerts

Although Fenway Park was not previously a frequent venue for concerts, the Red Sox new ownership has used the venue for two concerts each year, starting in 2003 with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's The Rising Tour, Jimmy Buffett in 2004, and The Rolling Stones who kicked off their 2005 A Bigger Bang Tour with two consecutive shows at Fenway Park. On July 7–8, 2006 the Dave Matthews Band played at the stadium, with Sheryl Crow. In the summer of 2007, The Police played two of their shows on their 30th anniversary reunion tour at Fenway. In 1973, there were concerts on consecutive evenings, with Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles as the headliners. After that weekend, the next major rock show at the park was Springsteen's 2003 performance. Neil Diamond announced a concert at Fenway Park on August 23, 2008 as part of his world tour, on the big screen during the Red Sox home opener on April 8.

Film and television

Transportation

References

External links

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