10 Things You Didn’t Know About Fenway Park
Few stadiums or ballparks are treated with as much reverence and respect as the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park. It’s more than just because it’s the oldest park in Major League Baseball’s storied history.
The fact that this storied sports sanctuary, which officially celebrates its 100th anniversary this Friday, made it this long may be its most interesting milestone, but this Boston icon has many more stories to share. Here are 10 of them:
The Green Monster has a secret message written on it
The most notable feature of this famous ballpark is the giant, 37-foot-tall wall known as the Green Monster in left field. It has intimidated generations of ballplayers and thanks to its massive size, it has been able to hide some secrets of its own. Former team owner Tom A. Yawkey was instrumental in funding and commissioning improvements to the fledgling ball park, so as a tribute to him and his wife, Jean R. Yawkey, their initials (TAY and JRY) appear on the hand-operated scoreboard located on the famed wall. They are located in the middle of the scoreboard spelled out in Morse code.
It came very close to being demolished
The ballpark has had to endure a century of massive upkeep and renovations and even two fires that nearly turned the Red Sox’s home into a pile of unrecognizable ash, but it wasn’t that long ago that it almost didn’t make it to its 100th anniversary. A movement started way back in the 1990s to demolish the stadium and build a brand new facility, due mainly to the fact that it could only seat 33,000 people, one of the lower capacities in Major League Baseball. Fans started a movement to save their stadium and in 2002, the new owners assured them that the stadium would not be torn down and they were committed to maintaining upkeep on the near century old structure for years to come.
The “red chair” marks the spot of the longest home run ever hit in the park
Another unique feature of the park is an odd looking and out of place red chair that sits way back in the right field stands. This colorful addition marks the spot where famed Red Sox slugger Ted Williams smacked the longest homer out of the park in the stadium’s history on June 10, 1946 at a distance of 502 feet. The red chair was added to the stands in 1984 by then-Sox owner Haywood Sullivan and fans can still buy a ticket in section 42, row 37, presuming that someone hasn’t beaten them to it.
The Red Sox weren’t the only team that played there
Fenway Park might be known for being the long and storied home of Boston’s hallowed Red Sox, but they weren’t the only team to take to its historic field. The first team to play there was actually the “Miracle Boston Braves” for the latter part of their season when they defeated the Philadelphia Athletics in 1914 in the World Series.”Since then, the field has housed exhibition and seasonal games in several sports including hockey, football and even boxing. In fact…
The first game ever played in park was against Harvard University
The inaugural game played at the park back in 1912 was between the stadium’s hometown team and the famed Harvard Crimson. Sadly, the exhibition game wasn’t a success thanks to the harsh snowstorm that only brought 3,000 shivering fans to its ticket booths.
The Redskins once called Fenway Park their home field
The Washington Redskins actually got their start in 1932 in Boston as the Boston Braves and their inaugural season got its started in Fenway Park where they also received their current name, the Redskins. The team only stayed in Boston for a couple of seasons before owner George Preston Marshall moved them to Washington in 1936.
Its grand opening was overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic
Grand plans were made to open the famed ballpark in 1912, complete with advanced coverage in the local paper and stands filled with crowds of local fans. However, that didn’t happen because just two days before the park was scheduled to open, the infamous Titanic sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912 and buried the grand opening’s story on the front page of every local paper. Weather also forced the Red Sox to delay their opening game at their brand new home.
The Green Monster used to be covered with ads
It’s impossible for anyone to imagine a time when the Green Monster wasn’t actually green, but that’s because back before 1947, it was actually covered with wall-to-wall ads. The decision was made to remove them since they would be less distracting to players going up to bat. The top section of the wall also once had large Coke bottles before they were replaced with seats.
If you were playing left field, you would have to run uphill to catch a long fly ball
Some of the more infamous modifications and features of the park, including the famed Green Monster, presented some interesting challenges to the visiting players who weren’t used to playing on its field. One of its earliest features was overshadowed by the massive left field wall. A small mound around 10 feet high actually took outfielders uphill as they tried to run back to catch a fly ball. One Red Sox leftfielder, “Duffy” Lewis, became so good at catching the ball on this incline that they named it “Duffy’s Cliff” in his honor. The incline has since been removed.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his last campaign speech at Fenway Park
One of the more somber memories of Boston’s beloved Fenway Park happened in 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took to the field and gave what would be his last political speech. The speech took place just three days before he won his fourth consecutive term for the White House against Thomas E. Dewey.