Fenway Park is the home ballpark for the Boston Red Sox baseball club. It is located near, and named for, the Fenway neighborhood in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, which in turn is named for the nearby fens, or marshes. Its name comes from when former owner John I. Taylor said, "It's in the Fenway section of Boston, isn't it? Then name it Fenway Park." It opened on April 20, 1912, the same day as the now-abandoned Tiger Stadium in Detroit. This makes it the oldest ballpark still in active use in Major League Baseball. Fenway hosted the 1946, 1961, and 1999 Major League Baseball All-Star Games. Fenway Park didn't even make the top page in the newspaper the day it opened, as it opened five days after the Titanic sank, amidst extensive coverage of that famous disaster.
Features of the park
Historically, Fenway Park has been decidedly unfriendly to left-handed pitchers. Babe Ruth is one of the few southpaw hurlers who found success there. Ruth started his career as a pitcher (mostly during the "dead-ball era",) and had a career record of 92 wins, 44 losses. Ruth also set a World Series record by pitching 29 2/3 scoreless innings, a record that lasted until broken by Whitey Ford of the New York Yankees in 1961.
Fenway Park is one of the few remaining classic parks in major league baseball to have a significant number of obstructed view seats. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of an era of less commercially-driven ballparks.
"The Green Monster"
The stadium is most famous for the left field wall called "Green Monster". Constructed in 1934, the 37-foot (11.3 m) high wall is 240 feet long, has a 22-foot deep foundation, and was constructed from 30,000 pounds of Toncan iron. Previously, a 23-1/2-foot tall screen protected cars and pedestrians on Lansdowne Street. However, the screen was replaced with more seating atop the Green Monster (in an attempt to fit as many seats as possible in Fenway).
The wall measures only 310 feet (94.5 m) from home plate down the left field line (See Duffy's Cliff). See comments below about the original measurement.
During the 1934 remodeling, the left-field scoreboard was added, and is one of two remaining original manual scoreboards in professional baseball (the other being at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois). Running vertically down the scoreboard, between the columns of out-of-town scores, are the initials "TAY" and "JRY" displayed in Morse code; a memorial to former Red Sox owners Thomas A. Yawkey and Jean R. Yawkey.
In 1947, advertisements covering the left field wall were painted over using green paint, which gave rise to the "Green Monster" moniker. Prior advertisements were: the Calvert Brewery's owl mascot ("Be Wise",) Gem razor blades ("Avoid 5 O'Clock Shadow",) Lifebuoy soap ("The Red Sox Use It!",) and Vimms vitamins ("Get that Vimms Feeling!")
In 1975, the wall was remodeled and an electronic scoreboard installed, and manual scoreboard changed to only show out-of-town scores from other American League games. In 1976, the railroad tin panels in the wall were replaced by a Formica-type panel which resulted in more consistent caroms and less noise when balls hit the wall.
In 2003, National League out-of-town scores returned; American League East division standings were first displayed in 2005. Additionally, advertisements returned to the Green Monster, most notably for Volvo and W.B. Mason. All work was done by D'Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects of Somerville, MA.
"The Triangle" is a region of center field where the walls form a triangle 420 feet (128 m) from home plate. That deep right-center point is conventionally given as the center field distance.
"Williamsburg" was the name, invented by sportswriters, for the bullpen area built in front of the right-center field bleachers in 1940. It was done primarily for the benefit of Ted Williams, to enable him and other lefthand 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 cozy 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 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." Tour guides at Fenway Park claim that the man sitting in the seat was a New York Yankees fan—and did not see the ball coming. As a result, he was hit in the face. Supposedly, the next morning, a Boston paper ran the headline "Bullseye!"
"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 to make it easier for Ted Williams hit more home runs. They cut the 1934 remodeling's right field line distance by some 30 feet.
Pesky's Pole is the name for the pole on the right field foul line. 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 and off the pole (a mere 302 feet from home plate). Pesky and the Red Sox attribute pitcher Mel Parnell with 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 in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series off that pole's screen.
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's 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 6-6, 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 will 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 was won by Cincinnati.
From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot (3 m)-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; and 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.
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 1579400914.)
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 truly restated at 310 feet (94.5 m). The companion 96 meters sign remained unchanged, until 1998, when it was finally corrected to 94.5 meters. A theory about the incorrect foul line distance is 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 that the theory has merit. Regardless of the posted distance, frustrated pitchers will always argue that "The Green Monster" is closer than the sign says.
The "EMC Club" and The "HP Pavilion 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, an MIT 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.
In 2002, the club 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 in the major leagues.)
During the fall and winter of 2005-2006, 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 HP Pavilion Club, 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.
There was once a smaller "triangle" at the left end of the bleachers in center fteld, 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 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.
A phrase made popular by Boston television commentators, "Canvas Alley" is the open alley behind the first base line where the grounds crew sits. Contrary to the belief that it "houses" the tarp it does not. The tarp sits next to the camera pit which is next to the Red Sox dugout.
- Foul poles, screen poles and screen on top of left field fence are outside playing field.
- A ball going through scoreboard, either on the bound or fly, is two bases.
- A fly ball striking left-center field wall to right of line behind flag pole is a home run.
- A fly ball striking wall or flag pole and bounding 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 bounding into bullpen is a home run.
- A ball sticking in the bullpen screen or bouncing into the bullpen is two bases.
- A batted or thrown ball remaining behind or under canvas or in tarp cylinder is two bases.
Changes in Fenway Park
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 centerfield bleachers.
After Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, 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 announced that they, in addition to their plans for the .406 Club area, would add 852 pavilion club seats, 745 pavilion box seats, and approximately 200 pavilion standing-room seats along the left- and right-field lines for the 2006 season, replacing approximately 1,300 seats.
The Red Sox plan to also add approximately 700 tickets for the 2007 season and 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 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's 100th anniversary) that they would like to replace the old wood seats in the grandstand section.
For the 2006 season, Fenway's capacity has been increased from 36,298 to 38,805. Reported attendance is generally 1,500 to 2,000 below this capacity, though, due to the distribution of complimentary (e.g., to players, advance scouts, overflow press passes) and promotional tickets by the team, as well as no shows. Capacity for day games is also reduced by 410 seats in the centerfield bleachers to provide a better hitter's background. By the park's 100th birthday in 2012, the team has announced that capacity could be increased to as much as 39,968.
Capacity has increased in recent years as additional rows have been added in front of the field boxes in former foul territory (the "Dugout Seats"), on top of "The Green Monster" (the "Monster Seats"), atop the right field roof (the "Budweiser Seats"), and in 2006 to the roof (the "Pavilion Seats"), which has been raised by about 10 feet, and to the former .406 Club (now the EMC club and HP Pavilion). There have 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. Fenway Park also has standing room areas on the Roof, Green Monster and throughout the park.
Despite its relatively small size, Fenway Park's oblong-esque layout actually makes it a reasonably viable football facility. The National Football League's Washington Redskins played at Fenway for four seasons, 1933 to 1936, as the Boston Redskins after playing their inaugural season in 1932 at Braves Field as the Boston Braves, 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. The Red Sox's one-time crosstown rivals, the Braves used Fenway Park when they were the Boston Braves and played their home games there during the 1914 World Series. At various times in the past, Boston College and Boston University teams have also played football games at Fenway Park, too. In February 2006 the Boston Herald and other news sources have reported that Boston College has shown interest in setting up a hockey rink and playing a game there in the winter of 2006-2007.
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, forcing the United States to enter World War II.
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. Jimmy Buffett performed at Fenway in 2004. The Rolling Stones also kicked off their 2005 A Bigger Bang tour with two consecutive shows at Fenway. And on July 7–8, 2006 the Dave Matthews Band will be playing at the stadium.
Boston College is expected to play a hockey game at Fenway Park during the 2006-2007 regular season.
Fenway Park in film
Some scenes from Blown Away (1994) and Little Big League (also 1994) were filmed at Fenway Park.
- Boston Globe - Sox to add upscale seats; sponsor signed
- RedSox.com - Sox honor Fisk with left-field foul pole
- Boston Globe - Dedication of Fisk Pole
- Fenway Park info, including information on visiting
- Fenway Park info
- Boston Ballpark History. MLB.com.
- Google Maps Aerial map
- SaveFenwayPark.com, a fan-run movement to save and preserve Fenway Park