Boston’s Fenway Park, the home ground of local MLB team the Red Sox, is the oldest active ballpark in the United States. It is the second smallest ballpark by total sitting capacity and the fifth smallest by the number of seats. Still, fans call it America’s most beloved ballpark thanks to Fenway Park’s unique features, scintillating games, and historical landmarks. The stadium has hosted 11 iconic World Series games, a feat unrivaled by any other ballpark.
It is said that Babe Ruth built the Yankee Stadium of 1923. But Fenway Park is the very place where Ruth honed the skills to become “The Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat.” Fenway’s fame led the Red Sox great Bill “Spaceman” Lee to call it “a shrine” for baseball lovers. It has also hosted many sporting, political, religious, entertainment, and cultural events. Fenway Park observed its centennial year in 2012 and the Red Sox home ground is expected to remain functional until 2062.
Fenway is just more than a baseball park with its unique features. It is an emotion to millions of baseball fans. With its alluring features and mesmerizing aura, the stadium successfully reserves a soft corner in millions of people across the globe.
In 1901, Ban Johnson established the American League dissolving the then minor Western League. It was a direct challenge to the National League, which was the only major baseball league until the upstart. Soon Johnson-led league set up a franchise in Boston. It was called the Boston Americans until the 1908 season.
The newly formed team constructed Huntington Avenue Grounds in 1901 and continued to play there until the 1911 season. With its meager 11,000 capacity and unattractive interior, the ground didn’t look apt for the rising profile of the Boston Red Sox. Owner John Taylor was looking for a new ballpark and acquired land in the Fenway neighborhood. Construction of a larger baseball stadium began in September 1911, and Fenway Park with asymmetry in its field dimensions was opened on April 20, 1912. The Redo Sox won the inaugural match 7–6 in 11 innings against the New York Highlanders.
The area surrounding Fenway Park blends well with the stadium in height and architecture. But when it was built, the plot of land was asymmetrical. The classic design, thus, boasts asymmetry in its field dimensions. It is the second MLB jewel box stadium after Chicago’s Wrigley Field. A large number of pillars supporting the roof obstruct the view from many seats and hint at architectural limitations.
The smallest foul ground, a short right-field, and nearer outfield make Fenway park a hitters’ paradise. Many fans still view the stadium as a remnant of the “Cookie-Cutter Stadium” era that preceded 1958.
The short left field from the home plate allows right-handed hitters to exploit the stadium features. This led many to call this the bordering wall “the Green Monster.” A terrace-style gallery was added above it in 2003. The bullpen area 7-meter closer to the right-center field than the bleacher wall. As a result, left-handed hitters score a lot in that area. Though the ballpark has the shortest outfield distance, the fence behind it curves away sharply. As a result, home runs to the area are very few.
Fenway Park was extensively rebuilt in 1934 following a fire incident.
In 1946, it was made a double-tier ballpark. Fenway Park received arc lights a year later making it the third stadium to have them. The 1983 renovation added private suites above the home plate. Five years later, 610 galls-enclosed club seats replaced the press box, which was reconstructed on the roof of club seats. Expansions in 2005 and 2006 saw the area remodeled with two open-air levels, a dedicated standing room, and seats with concierge services.
Fenway Park received a Daktronics screen in 2000. The terrace-seating arrangement was there above the Green Monster in 2003. Before the 2012 centennial celebrations, renovations added three new scoreboards and a revamped Gate D concourse. All wooden seats were replaced with plastic ones and the stand was completely refurbished.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- Fenway Park is the oldest and the most hitter-favored MLB ballpark.
- There were 11 World Series at the stadium with the Red Sox winning six – 1912, 1918, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2018 – and the Boston Braves (now Atlanta Braves) in 1914.
- Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald threw the first ball and the inaugural game ended with the home team’s victory over New York Highlanders.
- Fenway Park witnessed a surge in the crowd following the 1967 “Impossible Dream” season of the home team.
- In September 2008, the ballpark broke the 455 consecutive sellout record of Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Within nine months, Fenway Park set an MLB record of 500 consecutive sellouts. The run ended in 2013 with 794 Red Sox sellouts.
- The formation of the field with a short right-field fence and closure outfields is perfect for hitters to exploit. Its narrow foul territory adds 5 to 7 points extra to batting in every game.
- Often outfielders end up jumping over the lowly built bullpen wall while running after balls.
- Red Sox’s left-handed batter Ted Williams scored most of his home runs hitting the ball into the bullpen area located opposite the right-center field. This led sportswriter to dub the bullpen as “Williamsburg.”
- On June 9, 1946, Ted Williams hit the ball to land 502 ft away. This longest home run at Fenway Park is highlighted with a lone red seat numbered 21, row 37 in section 42, among more than 37,000 green bleachers.
- According to The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, a book written in 2007, Babe Ruth hit a massive 545-ft home run on May 25, 1926.
- A 2001 hit by Manny Ramirez was on its way to land outside the ballpark when it hit the light tower and fell inside. Official estimates pegged it at 501 ft.
- The Boston Braves had their 1914 World Series and 1915 season at Fenway Park.
- It hosts the Baseball Beanpot, a local intercollegiate tournament. Teams play the final round at Fenway.
- Every year two minor league teams play a regular season at the stadium. It also hosted many minor league games, including the Cape Cod Baseball League.
- The right field grandstand had replicas of 11 numbers retired by the Red Sox in memory of its greatest players. Out of these, 42 number of Jackie Robinson was retired by MLB.
The Ground Rules at Fenway Park
|The ball hitting or going above the scoreboard||A double|
|The ball reaching the left-center field wall to the right of the flag pole||A home run|
|The ball landing on the line behind the flag pole||A home run|
|The ball directly hitting the wall or flag pole||A home run|
|The ball hitting the line in the center||A home run|
|The ball hitting the right of the wall in center||A home run|
|The ball hitting left of the line before flying into the bullpen||A home run|
|The ball directly flying into bullpen/ going under canvas or reaching tarp cylinder/ hitting top of the left-field scoreboard before bouncing outside||A grand double|
|The ball striking the redline atop the green wall||A home run|
|The ball hitting the rail of the triangle area||A home run|
Fenway Park Gate/ Source: TripSavy
Fenway Park hosted the first open-air boxing match of Boston in 1920. For the next four decades, it was a regular place for boxing shows in the city.
The stadium hosts local and international soccer matches. Many well-known European soccer clubs from the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A continue to play their pre-season matches here.
· American Football
Starting from 1916, Fenway has been hosting American football matches. Starting from 2021, there are plans to have an annual Fenway Bowl between two teams from the Atlantic Coast and the American Athletic conferences.
Fenway Park was the venue for the 2010 NHL Winter Classic. The annual Frozen Fenway ice-skating and ice hockey events draw local and regional school, college, and university teams.
The stadium allowed concerts for the first time in 1973. Dave Matthews’ band, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Lady Gaga had their concerts at the ballpark since then.
· Polartec Big Air
In February 2016, Fenway witnessed the Polartec Big Air snowboarding and skiing. A part of the US Grand Prix Tour, the International Ski Federation organized it.