Fenway Park

Fenway Park
Fenway Park
Facility Statistics
Location4 Yawkey Way
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Broke Ground1911
OpenedApril 20, 1912
OwnerBoston Red Sox
Construction Cost$650,000 USD
ArchitectOsborn Engineering
Boston Red Sox1912-present
Boston Patriots1963-1967
Boston Redskins1933-1936
Boston Yanks1944-1948
Seating Capacity
2001 (day games)33,557
2001 (night games)33,993
Current Dimensions
Left field line310 ft (94.5 m)
True left-centernot posted
Left-center (deep)379 ft (115.5 m)
Center field389 ft 9 in (118.8 m)
Right-center (deep)420 ft (128 m)
Right field "average"380 ft (115.8 m)
Right field line302 ft (92 m) not posted
Backstop60 ft (18 m)

Fenway Park is the home ballpark for the 2004 World Series Champion 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.

The stadium is most famous for the "Green Monster", the imposing, 37 foot (11 m)-tall left field wall, only 310 feet (94.5 m) from home plate down the left field line. 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 purpose of this mound was similar to that of the famous "terrace" at Cincinnati's Crosley Field: partly as a supporting earthworks for a high wall, and partly to make up the difference in grade 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 days when overflow crowds would sit behind ropes on that slope. 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 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. (As per the book The Fenway Project, 2004, Rounder Books, published for The Society for American Baseball Research).

Other notable features include:

  • "The Triangle", 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", the bullpens built in front of the right-center field bleachers, so-dubbed by sportswriters, as it was added for the benefit of Ted Williams. The name parodied Yankee Stadium's right field area that was often called "Ruthville" .
  • "The Belly", 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" — the foul pole down the shallow right field line, named for Johnny Pesky a light-hitting shortstop when he hit the pole for a home-run. This is contrary to popular belief that he "wrapped" a homer around it. In similar fashion, Mark Bellhorn hit what proved to be the game-winning homer in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series off that pole's (miked) screen, and TV announcer Tim McCarver said the resulting twang was "the worst sound he had ever heard".
  • "Fisk's Pole" — the foul pole down the left field line, atop the Green Monster. It was recently named for Carlton Fisk in a ceremony before an interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds. In game six of the the 1975 World Series against the Reds, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk the most famous home run in World Series history, a 12th inning walk-off shot down the left field line that bounced off the pole. The hit is best remembered for Fisk jumping down the first base line, watching the hit and waving his arms trying to will the ball fair. Whether the name sticks remains to be seen.
  • The lone red seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21). The seat is painted red to mark 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. The blast was measured at 502 feet (153 m), well beyond Williamsburg.

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 Monster, and the flagpole stands within that little triangle. In 1968 the bleacher wall was extended to encase the flagpole and take it out of play. Where that extension meets the Monster a new sign was posted, 379 feet (115.5 m). That is not the true power alley, but deep left-center. The true power alley distance is not posted. The foul line hits the Monster at a right angle, so the geometrically inclined in the audience could calculate the true power alley, perhaps based on the sine of 22.5 degrees.

Companion metric distances were first posted in 1976, a time when it was thought that the United States would "go metric". Few ballparks post metrics nowadays, but this steeped-in-tradition ballpark retained them until mid-season 2002, when they were painted over.

For decades there was debate about the true left field distance, which was posted as 315 feet (96 m). In 1995 the line was finally remeasured and posted as 310 feet (94.5 m). The companion 96 meters sign remained unchanged, until 1998 when it was finally corrected to 94.5 m. One theory is that the 315 ft (96 m) came from the Duffy's Cliff days, that ballpark officials had included the slope of the incline in the measurement, and did not correct that figure when the cliff was leveled. A quick study of the geometry of it suggests that that argument has merit. Regardless of the posted distance, frustrated pitchers will always argue that the Monster is closer than the sign says.

Fenway is known as a hitter's ballpark, especially during July and August when the wind blows out to left field, carrying balls up to and over the Green Monster. However, the 1990 expansion of the press box had the unintended effect of blocking these winds somewhat. As a result, the park has been less hitter-friendly since then. Regardless, between the batting and the multi-faceted nature of the outfield fences, some writers have referred to Fenway as a "gigantic pinball machine".

The park holds over 34,000 spectators. This number has increased over the years as seats have been added in what was once foul ground and 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 upper decks, while others have proposed tearing down the stadium and rebuilding a similar one nearby.

After the Red Sox won their first World Series championship in 86 years, construction started on a new under-field drainage system to prevent the field from becoming too wet to play on during light to medium rains and also to reduce the number of hours needed to dry the field after a rainy day. Work went on throughout the off-season and was completed weeks before Spring Training began.

With seats now running along all or most of the rooftop, Fenway Park has essentially become the first double-decked ballpark in Boston since the South End Grounds.

The left-field scoreboard was added to Fenway during the 1934 remodeling, and is one of the few remaining manual scoreboards in professional baseball (another famous one is at Wrigley Field in Chicago). In 1975 the wall was remodeled, an electronic scoreboard installed, and manual scoreboard changed to only show American League out-of-town scores. Lately, however, the scoreboard has grown. National League scores returned in 2003, and American League East division standings were first displayed 2005. Running vertically down the scoreboard, between the columns of out-of-town scores, can be seen the initials TAY and JRY in Morse code; these are memorials to former Red Sox owners Thomas A. Yawkey and Jean R. Yawkey.

The National Football League's Boston Redskins played at Fenway from 1933 to 1936 after playing the 1932 season at Braves Field under their original name Boston Braves (the name borrowed from their landlords), and before transferring south to become the Washington Redskins. The American Football League's Boston Patriots played at Fenway from 1963 to 1968 after first similarly trying Nickerson Field, the direct descendant of Braves Field. The one-time crosstown rival Braves used Fenway as their home ground during the 1914 World Series.

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