Fenway Park

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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, which in turn is named for the nearby fens, or marshes. It opened on April 20, 1912, the same day as the now-defunct Tiger Stadium in Detroit. This makes it the oldest ballpark still in active use in Major League Baseball.


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 "The Green Monster". Constructed in 1934, the 37-foot (11 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 squeeze in 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 [[Fenway Park#"Duffy’s Cliff"|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 tin panels in the wall were replayed by a Formica-type panel which resulted in more consistent caroms and less noise when balls hit the wall. In 2003, National League scores returned; American League East division standings were first displayed 2005.

"The Triangle"

"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"

"Williamsburg", dubbed by sportswriters, is the bullpens built in front of the right-center field bleachers in 1940 for the benefit of Ted Williams. The name parodied Yankee Stadium's 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."

"The Belly"

"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, and they cut the 1934 remodeling's right field line distance by some 30 feet.

"Pesky's Pole"

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 Hall of Fame shortstop for the Red Sox, hit the pole for a home run. Pesky and the Red Sox attribute Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell with coining the name. In his career Pesky hit 17 homeruns, with six of those being at Fenway Park. The most notable for Pesky, is a two-run homerun in the eighth inning of the 1946 Opening Day game to win the game. In similar fashion, Mark Bellhorn hit what proved to be the game-winning homerun in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series off that pole's screen.

"Fisk’s Pole"

Fisk’s Pole is the name for the pole on the left field foul line atop "The Green Monster." In a ceremony before the Boston Red Sox's 2005 interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds, the pole was officially named "Fisk's Pole" in honor of catcher Carlton Fisk, who 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 knotted 6-6, Fisk launched a pitch 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 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.

"Duffy’s Cliff"

From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot (3 m)-high mound that formed an incline in front of the left field wall at Fenway park, extending from the left-field foul pole to the center field flag pole. As a result of the mound, 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 mound served two purposes: 1) it was a supporting for a high wall; and 2) it was built to compensate for the difference in grades between the field and the 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 mound 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 ".406 Club" (formally, "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 1980's, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (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 William's batting average in 1941, six days after his death. Williams was the last time that a player hit .400 or better in the major leagues.

Following the 2005 season, the glass will be removed from the .406 Club, as part of a total renovation of the section behind homplate. For the 2006 season, the area behind homplate will feature two levels. The bottom level which will be the new "EMC Club" featuring 406 seats and concierge services. The Home Plate Pavilion Club section will feature 374 seats and a dedicated standing room area. The added seats will be wider than the current seats.

Center field "triangle"

There was once a smaller "triangle" at the left end of the bleachers, 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.

"Canvas Alley"

A phrase made popular by boston television commentators, "Canvas Alley" is the open alley behind the first base line where the rain tarp is kept.

Ground Rules

  • 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.
  • 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 two bases.

Changes in Fenway Park

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 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.

Proposed Changes

After the 2005 season, Red Sox announced plans to open the new EMC Club below the new Home Plate Pavilion Club section behind homeplate. The Sox announced plans to 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 the Fenway up to the MLB average of precentage of premium seating.

Seating Capacity

Fenway Park currently holds over 35,000 spectators. This number has increased over the years as seats have been added in what was once foul territory, throughout the upper decks, and, most recently, on top of "The Green Monster" and atop the right field wall. Some people have proposed increasing the seating capacity by up to 10,000 more seats through the expansion of the upper decks, while others have proposed razing the historic ballpark entirely and building a similar, but larger and more modern, scalable facility nearby.

Other Tenants

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/New England 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.

Non-Baseball Uses

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 Great Britain 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 recruited recent performances by acts such as the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Jimmy Buffett.

Fenway Park on the Silver Screen

The park was featured in a pivotal scene in the 1989 Kevin Costner film "Field of Dreams". It was the only location shoot outside the Iowa-Illinois area.

The 2005 movie, "Fever Pitch" included scenes shot on location during the 2004 American League Championship Series games and scenes from Busch Stadium were filmed after Game 4 of the 2004 World Series.

Some scenes from "Blown Away" (1994) and "Little Big League" (also 1994) were filmed at Fenway Park.

(Source: "Shot on This Site", by William A. Gordon (ISBN 080651647X)

References

External links

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