SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/In-Depth
Fenway through the years
Published April 16, 2012, Page 26
• Red Sox owner John Taylor announces in June his intention to build Fenway Park. The Red Sox were playing their home games at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, now part of the Northeastern University campus. Groundbreaking occurs in September.
|The World Series comes to Fenway in the ballpark's first season in 1912.
• In the first game at Fenway Park, held on April 9, the Red Sox defeat Harvard 2-0 in an exhibition game played during snow flurries in front of 3,000 fans.
• The Red Sox christen the ballpark that year with a World Series win over the New York Giants.
• The Red Sox and National League Boston Braves share Fenway Park from April 1914 until August 1915, when the Braves move into their new ballpark, Braves Field.
|The 1916 Boston Red Sox pose for a team photo.
• Outside Ireland, Boston was, and is, home to one of the largest Irish populations in the world. In June, more than 60,000 people fill Fenway Park to hear a speech by the Irish Republican Army’s Eamon de Valera.
• In December, team owner Harry Frazee sells rights to Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
• The ballpark’s first boxing match, held on Oct. 9, is headlined by a heavyweight bout between “Battling” Jim McCreary and John Lester Johnson.
• Three small fires break out in the left-field bleachers on May 7 when trash and paper ignite beneath the wood-framed stands. Fans quickly extinguish the flames, but following a game the next day, the ballpark catches fire again in the same area. This time the stands are destroyed.
• Temporary bleachers for football are installed for the first time in the left field. Boston College plays several games at the ballpark that year.
• The first Sunday game at Fenway Park is held this season. Sunday baseball was approved in Boston three years earlier, but not at Fenway due to its proximity to a church. The Red Sox had played their Sunday games at Braves Field on Commonwealth Avenue until the law was changed.
• Tom Yawkey buys the Red Sox and brings with him much-needed capital. Following the Red Sox season, Yawkey begins a massive reconstruction of the ballpark, including beginning to replace the two wooden bleacher seating areas in right and center field with remodeled steel and concrete sections. Several other areas of the ballpark are remodeled or introduced as part of the construction project.
• The NFL’s Boston Redskins begin a four-year stint playing their home games at Fenway Park, defeating the New York Giants 21-10.
|Work continues on new seating as part of changes to the ballpark in 1934 that would give birth to what would become known as the Green Monster.
• Only five days into the calendar year, a raging fire interrupts Yawkey’s ambitious offseason renovation of Fenway Park. The fire destroys the new seating areas down the left-field line and the center-field bleachers. An undaunted Yawkey redoubles the team’s construction efforts, pledging to have the park ready by Opening Day.
• On April 17, an Opening Day crowd of nearly 33,000 pack into the reconstructed Fenway Park. Yawkey had spent over a million Depression-era dollars to transform Fenway Park. The project contains more than 7,000 new seats and created a dramatically altered look. In place of a 10-foot embankment known as Duffy’s Cliff and a 25-foot high fence above it, a new left-field wall that would become the Green Monster, made of concrete and tin, stands 37 feet high and features the first electronically operated scoreboard in baseball. The ballpark also has received a “Dartmouth Green” paint job throughout, taking on the characteristic color it is known for today.
• The largest crowd to ever see a game at Fenway Park — 47,627 — turns out for a doubleheader with the Yankees on Sept. 22. Crowds of this size will never be equaled under Fenway Park’s current dimensions. More stringent fire laws and league rules after World War II prohibit crowding that was permitted in the 1930s.
• With the prevalence of home runs increasing, a 23-foot high net is added above the left-field wall to protect pedestrians and property on Lansdowne Street.
• A roped-off, on-field standing area in deep right and center field, where fans had been able to watch the team play, is eliminated this season as Yawkey stops permitting fans on the field during games.
• Yawkey begins further renovations to Fenway Park that move in the right-field wall some 20 feet, shortening the home run distance for Ted Williams. The renovations also feature a new bullpen area in front of the bleachers to accommodate the home and visiting teams.
• A Cities Services sign is erected behind the Green Monster. The sign would be replaced in 1965 by the same company, but under its new name, Citgo.
• Helen Robinson begins her career as Fenway Park switchboard operator. Over the next 60 years, Robinson would never miss a day of work. She was at work on the day before her death in October 2001.
• The NFL Boston Yanks begin playing at Fenway Park. The team would continue using the facility until 1948.
• On Nov. 4, only three days before being elected to an unprecedented fourth term, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a speech before more than 40,000 supporters.
• The Red Sox host their first All-Star Game on July 9. Ted Williams goes 4-for-4 with two homers, a walk and five RBIs.
• Green paint replaces advertisements covering the left-field wall. No more Calvert Owl (“Be wise”), Gem Blades (“Avoid 5 o’clock shadow”), Lifebuoy (“The Red Sox use it”) and Vimms (“Get that Vimms feeling”).
• The Red Sox defeat the White Sox 5-3 on June 13 in Fenway Park’s first night game. The Red Sox were the third-to-last of the 16 Major League clubs competing at the time to add lights to the playing field.
• On May 12, the first Red Sox game is televised from Fenway, on WBZ-TV.
• The first playoff game in American League history takes place at Fenway in October.
|Ted Williams addresses the crowd as his teammates look on in a farewell ceremony after being recalled to active duty for the Korean War in 1952.
• The Braves move to Milwaukee, leaving Fenway as the only major league sports stadium in Boston.
• During the offseason, the visitors clubhouse is moved to the third-base side of the ballpark and connected to the visitors dugout via a tunnel.
• John Kiley begins his 37-year career playing Fenway Park’s Hammond organ. The organ is still played during every game today.
• Fenway Park’s first basketball game takes place as the Harlem Globetrotters defeat the George Mikan United States All-Stars, 61-41.
• The lineups of both teams are posted on the left-field scoreboard for the first time. The electronic display shows the number and position of each player and is used through 1975, when a new electronic board is built on top of the bleachers in center field for the 1976 season. In addition, a row of seats is added to the roof boxes.
|Opening Day ceremonies take place in 1963 as construction is underway in the Boston skyline.
• The AFL Boston Patriots begin a six-year stay at Fenway Park.
• The Newport-New England Jazz Festival brings Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and B.B. King to play at Fenway.
• Carlton Fisk’s World Series home run guarantees Citgo decades of media exposure because of the company’s giant sign outside the ballpark. The homer comes during the first World Series night game ever played at Fenway.
• In addition to the new electronic scoreboard installed above the bleachers in center field, the press box is enclosed with glass, and the left-field wall is reconstructed.
• Tom Yawkey dies in July; his wife, Jean, takes control of the team.
|Game action in 1977, the first year the Red Sox would top 2 million in annual attendance.
• For the first time in its history, Fenway Park welcomes more than 2 million fans to the park for Red Sox games during the season.
• A two-year renovation begins that includes the addition of 23 luxury boxes down the left-field line, bringing Fenway’s total to 44. New seats are built on top of the roof above both sides of the infield, and Fenway receives its first elevator. In addition, the last true bleacher seats (wooden planks without backs) are replaced.
• NESN, the new team-owned regional sports network, makes its first broadcast from its Fenway Park studio.
• Ted Williams’ No. 9 and Joe Cronin’s No. 4 uniforms are placed on the facade of the right-field roof, the first uniforms to be retired by the Red Sox.
• A color video board and black-and-white message board are installed in center field, the playing field is resodded and “The 600 Club,” a glass-enclosed section of 606 stadium club seats, is added on the roof behind home plate. New broadcast booths and the press box are relocated on top of the 600 Club. In 2002, the club would be renamed the .406 club in honor of Ted Williams, who died earlier that year.
• Shawmut Bank installs Fenway Park’s first ATM.
• The first organized tours of Fenway Park begin, making it one of Boston’s most popular tourist destinations.
• Aramark begins its first season as general concessionaire, taking over for Harry M. Stevens Inc., the only concessionaire the ballpark had ever had.
• Three giant Coke bottles are added to one of the left-field light towers above the Green Monster. Coke has been a Red Sox sponsor since Fenway opened.
• With Fenway Park set to play host to the 1999 All-Star Game, temporary press boxes are installed on the left-field and right-field roofs. After the All-Star Game, the boxes would become the K and B suites at the ballpark.
• A proposal for a replacement for Fenway Park, made by then team-CEO John Harrington, had the team moving across Yawkey Way into a bigger, modern version of Fenway Park.
• Before the season, a Hood milk carton is installed on the right-field light tower.
• The Red Sox retire Carlton Fisk’s No. 27.
• Boston developer Frank McCourt, in a pitch to buy the Red Sox, unveils a plan to build a new Fenway Park on land he owns on Boston’s Seaport.
• A John Hancock sign is installed above the center-field scoreboard, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the franchise.
• In December, the Yawkey Trust agrees to sell the team and stadium to a group led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino.
• The Red Sox add nearly 400 seats, including 161 new dugout seats that are built on the infield side of both dugouts.
• Temporary advertising signs are added above the Green Monster, the first advertisements on the wall since 1946.
• The Yawkey Way Concourse, an expansion of the park onto the adjacent street, adds 25,000 square feet and doubles the space for fans on the first-base side of the ballpark.
• Aramark sells its ownership interest in the Red Sox, resulting in a pre-tax gain of $37.9 million, and begins its first season as premium concessionaire.
|Green Monster seats were installed in 2003.
• Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform the first concerts at Fenway Park in three decades, beginning a series of concerts the ballpark has held in recent years. Among those who have performed: Jimmy Buffett (2004); the Rolling Stones (2005); Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow (2006); the Police (2007); Neil Diamond (2008); Dave Matthews Band and Phish, and Paul McCartney (2009); and Aerosmith and the J Geils Band (2010).
• Green Monster seats debut above the left-field wall. Two rows of additional seats and new camera pits are constructed on the outfield end of the Red Sox and visitors dugouts. Two new rows of seats are added behind the plate. A new manual out-of-town scoreboard and advertising panels are installed on the left-field wall.
• The team adds 269 barstool seats atop the Green Monster. The Dugout Seats are expanded beyond each dugout toward the outfield, and 87 Home Plate Seats are added by moving the backstop closer to home plate.
|Curt Schilling throws the first pitch of Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox would go on to sweep the Cardinals to pick up their first title in 86 years.
• The Budweiser right-field roof deck, built on top of the original 1934 roof, features home-plate-shaped tables, seating four people each. Along with the 192 new seats, the additional space creates room for 250 standing-room patrons.
• The decades-old Jimmy Fund sign moves to the left-field wall, a new symbol of the club’s longtime affiliation with the nonprofit organization.
• The Third Base Concourse is refurbished with new rest rooms and concessions space. Abutting the concourse, the room formerly used as the Lansdowne Shop is renovated to create the Crown Royal Club (now the Absolut Club) premium area.
• Eighty-six years of heartache are erased with a 3-0 win in St. Louis, as the Red Sox complete a sweep of the 100th World Series for their first championship since 1918. A parade later beginning at Fenway Park would attract 3.2 million fans along its route.
• Henry, Werner and Lucchino announce that the Red Sox are formally committed to remain long-term at Fenway Park.
• The left-field foul pole is dedicated as the Fisk Pole in honor of Carlton Fisk’s iconic home run versus the Cincinnati Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
• A new playing field is installed and the Red Sox clubhouse is improved.
• The Red Sox remove the glass that had separated the .406 club from the ambience and atmosphere of Fenway Park, creating the new EMC Club and the State Street Pavilion. In the process, the club adds 1,300 seats, standing-room positions, and additional concession stands and rest rooms.
• The right-field foul pole, nicknamed “Pesky Pole” for decades, is officially dedicated to former player Johnny Pesky, who celebrated his 87th birthday that day.
• Jordan’s Third Base Deck, on top of the previously expanded Third Base Concourse, is constructed. The new deck provides concessions, rest rooms and space at the back of the third-base grandstand seats. Two levels below, the Yaz Door area under the third-base seating bowl is renovated and a locker room for Fenway Park’s ushers, ticket takers and security staff is built. The team uses additional space in the vicinity to build an indoor batting cage for visiting teams.
• More than 3,000 new citizens are sworn in as Fenway Park plays host to its first naturalization ceremony.
• Additions include more than 800 new State Street Pavilion seats, plus standing-room tickets down the first- and third-base lines, as well as the “Coca-Cola Corner” in left field.
• The right-field roof is repaired and expanded for the season and approximately 560 seats are added to the area, along with new rest rooms, concessions and additional standing-room space with drink rails. The renovation creates the Cumberland Farms Deck. The Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck also is expanded with 28 new seats at tables.
• On New Year’s Day, the Boston Bruins win the 2010 NHL Winter Classic, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1.
• Forty-two years after Fenway Park’s last soccer match, Celtic defeats Sporting Lisbon, 2-1.
• A new statue honoring “Teammates” is unveiled outside Gate B paying tribute to Red Sox greats Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams.
• The 10-year, $285 million plan to modify Fenway Park concludes with $40 million in construction upgrades.
• This season, the Red Sox debut the new Royal Rooters Club and The Nation’s Archives tied to the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. The club is being offered first to the longest-tenured season-ticket holders.
Sources: Boston Red Sox, SportsBusiness Journal research