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100 Years Of Baseball at Fenway Park
The Early Years
The Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park opened in 1912; ironically just days after the RMS Titanic sank. The Boston Red Sox first major league game was played on April, 20th, 1912, against The New York Highlanders (who later became the New York Yankees). It is the oldest operating major league ballpark today, and is still home to the Boston Red Sox. On April 20th 2012 Fenway park will turn 100 years old, and will play a game against, of course the New York Yankees.
The Boston Red Sox were known at the time as the Boston Americans, Pilgrims, Puritans, and many other team nicknames, because they didn’t have an official name. They were one of the eight charter teams that formed the new American League in 1900, and were in direct competition with the National League, which had been around a while, and thought of themselves superior than the American League. In 1903, mostly for profit and financial gain, the two leagues merged to become Major League baseball, and agreed to a championship game between the National League champion, and the American league champion, called the World Series, and in 1903 the first World Series was played, between Boston, and the Pittsburg Pirates.
In 1901 Boston's first year in major league baseball, they built the Huntington avenue grounds, ironically in close proximity to the south end grounds where the Boston Braves played of the National League. This park held 11,500 fans. In early 1911 Red Sox owner John Taylor set out to build a new ballpark for the Red Sox. In February Johns father, General Charles H. Taylor purchased land between Lansdowne Street, and Ipswich Street, and on September 25th, 1911 the building of Fenway Park began, issuing a new era in Red Sox history. With aggressive construction, the park was opened in April of 1912.
The Red Sox first year in Fenway Park was a memorable one. They had 105 wins and won their second World Series against the New York Giants. In 1918 they won their fifth world series in Fenway Park, unfortunately their previous 2 world series in 1915, and 1916 were played in the new Boston braves ballpark because it had a larger seating capacity. Likewise the Boston Braves, and the year of "the miracle Braves" played their games at Fenway Park in the latter part of the 1914 championship season. The Boston Braves also shared Fenway Park in 1915 until their park, Braves field opened. In addition to baseball Fenway park hosted a variety of high school and college football games.
Fenway In 1912
Babe Ruth As A Boston Red Sox
The 1920s were not kind to the Red Sox and Fenway Park, starting with the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. They finished in last place in all but three seasons, and finished no higher than fifth place in the whole decade. In 1926 a fire destroyed the left field bleachers and they were never repaired but removed. Fenway Park hosted many other events including high school and college football, soccer, and a boxing event.
The 1930s were a little better. Tom Yawkey purchased the team in 1933 and immediately began much needed renovations which were complete at the start of the 1934 season, again a fire in the newly built left field bleachers threatened the finishing of the construction, but Tom Yawkey made sure construction was complete at the start of the 1934 season. Also During this time Duffys cliff was removed, more seats were added and a 37 foot high wall was built, and filled with advertisements, and a hand operated scoreboard was added to the base of the wall. Fenway Park's capacity increased from 27,642 to 33,817 at this time. In 1933 Fenway became the home of the Boston Redskins the first professional football team to call Fenway home. They played there until 1936 before moving to Washington.
In the late 30s the red sox seemed to be improving with the emergence of Ted Williams, and Jimmie Foxx. On June 9th 1946 Ted Williams hit the longest home run ever recorded at Fenway Park. It measured 502 feet. A lone red seat marks the spot where the ball was hit. In 1946 the Red Sox saw their first world series play since 1918, and in 1947 the advertisements were removed from the 37 foot high wall, and the wall was painted green, therefore the green monster was born, which has become Fenway Parks most distinguishing character. Also in 1947 light towers were installed which allowed night games for the first time in Fenway Park. In 1944 another professional football team called the Boston Yanks started playing their home games at Fenway Park. They played there until 1948, when the team folded.
In 1951 The Red Sox celebrated their 50th year as a franchise. During this time Fenway Park was not only the home for the Red Sox, but also home to some of Boston university football, and Boston College football games. In 1960 it was Ted Williams last year playing, and in his last bat he hit a homerun to go out in true style. In 1961 Carl Yastrzemski started playing for the red sox, one of their best players ever. In 1963 The Boston Patriots a new team for the American Football League, began playing a majority of their home games at Fenway Park. They played at Fenway from 1963 thru 1968. In 1967 the Red Sox were in the World Series once again against The St. Louis Cardinals, but came up short once again.
1972 was Carlton Fisk's first full year with the Red Sox, and another important player in Red Sox history in 1975 the Red Sox made it the World Series once again. In a deciding game six with the score tied 6-6 in the twelfth inning; Carlton Fisk hit a home run forcing a deciding game 7 in the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. This home run became the most important and famous home run in Red Sox history. In 1976 a new electronic and video scoreboard was put up, and also the green monster was resurfaced with hard plastic. In 1976 was also a sad year in Red Sox history, because longtime Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey passed away, and city of Boston renamed Jersey Street, next to Fenway Park, to Yawkey way in honor of Tom Yawkey.
In July of 1979 Carl Yastrzemski hit his 400th career home run at Fenway, and later in September of the same year he got his 4000th hit in front of the home crowd. In 1983 wade Boggs started playing for the Red Sox, and in 1984 Roger Clemens started his baseball career with the Red Sox. He became one of the best and most famous pitchers in red sox history, and had many memorable moments at Fenway Park, including a major league record setting 20 strikeouts in a game in 1896. Also In1986 The Red Sox once again were in the World Series Against the New York Mets, in the now famous game six, with one out away from their first world series in 68 years, Bill Buckner made a crucial error on a slow roller that allowed the Mets to win the game. The next game the Mets won and ultimately the series. In 1987 the Red Sox celebrated their 75th anniversary.
In The 90's and 2000's
In th 90s seen the emergence of players pitcher Tim Wakefield, and Mo Vaughn who had an MVP year in 1995. Jean Yawkey, Tom Yawkeys wife, and Red Sox owner passed away in 1992. This would be the first time since 1933 that a Yawkey was not in charge if the Red Sox. In 1997 Nomar Garciapara started his career with the red sox. Three giant coke bottles were added to one of the left field light towers. In 1999 The Major League all star game was played at Fenway Park, it was the third time the all star game was played at Fenway Park.
From 2000 thru 2010 was one of the most historic decades ever for Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. There was talk in the early part of the decade of the sale of the Boston Red Sox, and aggressive plans were underway to build a new modern Fenway Park with some of the same features as the old with a more modern setting. Well in 2002 the Red Sox were sold to John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino. Not only were these guys committed to keeping Fenway Park open, they were actively seeking to win a championship which had not happened since 1918. With active improvements right from the start they set out to improve Fenway Park from the beginning. The most famous Improvement was the addition of seats on top of the green monster. Since these seats were in stalled in 2003, they have been some of the most coveted seats of most Red Sox Games. Also in 2003 Kevin Millar hit the 10,000th home run in Fenway Park.
In 2004 it was a typical red sox season, they made the playoffs as the wild card. After defeating the California Angels in the ALDS, the Red Sox were set to take on the New York Yankees in the ALCS. It did not go well The Red Sox Lost the first three games to the Yankees falling to an 0-3 deficit, in which no team in baseball has ever come back from. The Red Sox won the next four games, two of which were at Fenway park. And ultimately their first world series in 86 years The Red Sox also won the World Series in 2007.
On January 1st 2010 the field was transformed to a hockey arena, and the Boston Bruins played the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The Bruins won 2-1 in a thrilling overtime win. Since new owners John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino purchased the Red Sox in 2002, there have been many improvements, and renovations to the park, while maintaining the overall look of the ballpark. This was part of a ten year plan to improve the park. The park now holds 37,493 for night games, and 37,065 for day games.
When you go to a baseball game at Fenway it's almost like stepping back in time, and you get the feeling of what it must have been like going to a game in the early part of the 1900s. On day games the streets are closed and it's like a carnival type atmosphere outside the park. Because of the small capacity the fans are literally right on top of the game. With its location, age, history and tradition Fenway park is a great place to see a game.