Fenway Park in Boston
Fenway Park is a baseball park near Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Located at 4 Yawkey Way, it has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club since it opened in 1912, and is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. It is one of two "classic" ballparks still in use, the other being Chicago's Wrigley Field. Considered to be one of the best-known sports venues in the world, it has been the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States since the 1991 demolition of Comiskey Park in Chicago.
Because of the ballpark's age and constrained location in the dense Fenway–Kenmore neighborhood, the park has had many renovations and additions over the years not initially envisioned, resulting in unique, quirky features, including "The Triangle," "Pesky's Pole", and most notably the famous Green Monster in left field. Dedicated Red Sox fans have sold out every Red Sox home game since May 15, 2003; in 2008, the park sold out its 456th consecutive Red Sox game, breaking a Major League Baseball record. Fans who attended this game received gifts to celebrate this accomplishment. As of March 30, 2011, the Red Sox have had 631 consecutive sellouts, which is easily the best in Major League Baseball history. The sellout streak is aided by the Red Sox's fan base as well as the fact that, as of 2011, Fenway Park has the lowest maximum capacity of any MLB stadium; it is only one of two MLB ballparks (PNC Park in Pittsburgh being the other) that cannot accommodate at least 40,000 spectators.
Besides baseball, Fenway Park has been the site of many other sporting and cultural events, including professional football games for the Boston Redskins and the Boston Patriots, concerts, soccer and hockey games, political and religious campaigns.
2012 will mark Fenway Park's centennial, with the Red Sox making plans (including a distinctive commemorative logo just as they did for Fenway's 75th and 90th birthdays) for the celebration, though most have not yet been announced.
The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. In 1911, owner John I. Taylor bought the land bordered by Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street and developed it 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 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. 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, the park is considered to be one of the most well-known sports venues in the world.
Changes to Fenway Park
Some of the changes include:
- In 1934, the scoreboard was added, with what was then considered high technology lights representing balls and strikes. The score is still updated by hand today from behind the wall (except the National League scores which need to be changed out on the field).
- 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 on top of the roof boxes along the first and third base sides.
- In 2000, a new video display from Daktronics, measuring 23 ft high by 30 ft wide, was added in center field.
- 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 grandstand, 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 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. All bleacher seats were replaced and the seating bowl water-proofed as well.
- Before the 2009 season, the right field roofbox seating area was renovated and expanded and the original 1912 seating bowl was water-proofed and seats replaced.
- Before the 2010 season, the left field lower seating bowl was water-proofed and seats replaced. This was done in two phases to allow for the hosting of the NHL Winter Classic.
- Before the 2011 season, three new scoreboards beyond right-center field were installed: a 38-by-100-foot scoreboard in right-center field, a 17-by-100-foot video screen in center field, a 16-by-30-foot video board in right field, along with a new video control room. The Gate D concourse has undergone a complete remodel with new concession stands and improved pedestrian flow. The wooden grandstand seats were all removed to allow the completion of the waterproofing of the seating bowl and completely refurbished upon re-installation. The Red Sox originally planned to expand the bullpens to provide more room for pitchers to warm up, but that part of the renovation project was scrapped.
Proposed (then canceled) 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. Most of the old park was to be demolished to make room for new development, with one section remaining to house a baseball museum and public park. This was a highly controversial idea, as most Boston area sports fans consider Fenway Park to be sacred ground, and demolishing the old park would have caused a significant outcry (as did the closure and later demolition of Tiger Stadium that same year after decades of grassroots efforts to try to save it). Several groups sprang up, such as "Save Fenway Park" to try to block the move.
All involved parties wrangled for several years on the details of the new stadium. One plan even involved building a "Sports Megaplex" in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built a new stadium in Foxborough, and that plan was abandoned. Even after several more rounds of deliberations, the Red Sox could not reach an agreement with the city of Boston for a new stadium. In 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. After finishing 10 years of improvements to Fenway, spending $285 million to renovate, improve, rebuild the ballpark, in 2011 team president Larry Lucchino stated in an interview that all renovations are complete. At the same time, he said that engineers have told the team that the structure has 40–50 years of life remaining and that there is nothing in the plans (for a new ballpark).
- 35,000 (1912–1946)
- 35,500 (1947–1948) 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 Monster
The Green Monster is the nickname of the thirty-seven-foot, two-inch (11.3 m) left field wall in the park. Only 310–315 feet to home plate, it is a popular target for right-handed hitters.
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 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 ft 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 ft closer than the bleacher wall. Ironically fewer than three 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 ft.
The Lone Red Seat
The lone red seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. The Ted Williams hit 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,
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 ft and another one with an official estimate of 501 ft. 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 ft from home plate. Ruth also hit several other "Ruthian" blasts at Fenway that landed across the street behind straightaway center field, estimated at 500 ft.
Pesky's Pole is the name for the pole on the right field foul line, which stands a mere 302 ft 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.
NBC-TV director Harry Coyle had wanted to aim the camera on the ball. But legend has it that a rat in the left field camera booth had frightened the cameraman, causing him to stay focused on Fisk's "waving it fair". This play clinched an Emmy award for Coyle and NBC's coverage of the Series.
From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10 ft high incline in front of the then 25 ft 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:
- it was a support for a high wall;
- 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 stewert 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", .)
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.
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 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 regular season in the major leagues.)
During the 2005/06 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.
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, Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the four-team 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. Due to economic reasons, the ACC elected to move the 2010 tournament from Fenway Park to NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, NC, but is still looking to host a tournament at Fenway Park in the future.
Fenway Park has also hosted the Cape Cod Baseball League All Star Game since 2009.
Since its construction, Fenway Park has hosted 19 soccer matches. The first game was played on May 30, 1931; 8,000 fans were on hand 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. During 1968, the park was home to the Boston Beacons of the now-defunct NASL. The latest soccer event was held in July 2010, when Fenway hosted an exhibition game between European soccer clubs Celtic F.C. and Sporting C.P. called Football at Fenway. A crowd of 32,162 watched the two teams play to a 1-1 tie. The Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in over time, securing the first home-team victory in the relatively short history of the event. The Winter Classic paved the way for the Frozen Fenway series of ice skating and hockey events at the ball park. Frozen Fenway is an annual series of collegiate games featuring hockey teams from local and regional colleges and universities, including the University of Maine, University of Vermont, Boston College and Boston University, is held during the first part of the event. After the completion of the hockey series, an the rink is opened to the public for free ice skating.
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.
There are eight 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.
Until the late 1990s, the numbers originally hung on the right-field facade in the order in which they were retired: 9-4-1-8. It was pointed out that the numbers, when read as a date (9/4/18), marked the eve of the first game of the 1918 World Series, the last championship series that the Red Sox won before 2004. After the facade was repainted, the numbers were rearranged in numerical order.
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 requirement 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. Pesky would have had 10 seasons but he had given 3 seasons as an Operations Officer in the U.S. Navy during WWII. The latest number retired was 14, worn by Jim Rice. Rice met the original requirements, retiring after playing sixteen seasons with the Red Sox and entering the Hall of Fame in 2009.
|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|
|6||Johnny Pesky||SS, 3B, 2B||1942, 46–52||2008-09-28||US Navy, 1943–45|
|8||Carl Yastrzemski||LF, 3B, 1B||1961–83||1989-08-06|
|9||Ted Williams||LF||1939–42, 46–60||1984-05-29||US Marines, 1943–45, 52–53|
|27||Carlton Fisk||C||1969, 71–80||2000-09-04|
|42||Jackie Robinson||Brooklyn Dodgers 1947-1956, retired by Major League Baseball 1997-04-15|
(all ground rules based on)
- Foul poles are inside the field of play.
- A ball striking the "Ladder to Nowhere" is in 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 ball striking the top of the scoreboard in left field in the ladder below top of wall and bounding out of the park is a ground rule double.
- 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.
- A fly ball that gets stuck in the ladder above the score board on the left field wall is ruled a ground rule triple. (The only ground rule triple in MLB parks)
Access and transportation
- Fenway Park can be reached by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line subway's Kenmore Station on the "B", "C" & "D" branches, as well as the Fenway Station on the "D" branch.
- Yawkey Station is served by the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Line commuter rail trains.
- Although the Massachusetts Turnpike passes close to Fenway Park there is no direct connection. Motorists are directed to use local streets or Storrow Drive to access the park.
Fenway Park and the Red Sox have been referenced in various songs by Dropkick Murphys and Jonathan Richman.
The stadium has been featured in a number of films, most notably in the 2010 crime film The Town, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. In the film's climax, the main characters enter Fenway Park's cash room disguised as Boston police officers and trick the guards and counting room staff in order to steal upwards of $3 million.
Other notable movies filmed at Fenway Park include 1989's Field of Dreams, an Academy Award nominated baseball homage that featured Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones watching a Red Sox game, and 2005's Fever Pitch, with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. The ending of the latter film had to be rewritten during the 2004 production when the Red Sox went on to win their first World Series title in 86 years.
- Stadium site on redsox.com
- Fenway Park Seating Chart at Precise Seating
- Fenway Park info, including information on visiting
- Fenway Park facts, photos, statistics and trivia
- Boston Ballpark History. MLB.com.
- Fenway Park dynamic diagram at Clem's Baseball
- Google Maps Aerial view
- Mini-Fenway Park
- VisitingFan.com: Reviews of Fenway Park
- Fenway Park Seating Chart
- Fenway Park 100th Anniversary page MLB.com