The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. In 1911, owner John I. Taylor purchased the land bordered by Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street and developed it into a larger baseball stadium.
Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or "fens", to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. However, given that Taylor's family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, the promotional value of the naming at the time has been cited as well. Like many classic ballparks, Fenway Park was constructed on an asymmetrical block, with consequent asymmetry in its field dimensions. The General Contractor was the Charles Logue Building Company.
The first game was played April 20, 1912, with mayor John F. Fitzgerald throwing out the first pitch and Boston defeating the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees the next year), 7-6 in 11 innings. Newspaper coverage of the opening was overshadowed by continuing coverage of the Titanic sinking a few days earlier.
Fenway Park has historically drawn low attendance, its lowest occurring late in the 1965 season with two games having paid attendance under 500 spectators. Its attendance has risen since the Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, and on September 8, 2008, with a game versus the Tampa Bay Rays, Fenway Park broke the all-time Major League record for consecutive sellouts with 456, surpassing the record previously set by Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland, Ohio. On Wednesday, June 17, 2009, the park celebrated its 500th consecutive Red Sox sellout. According to WBZ-TV, the team joined three NBA teams which achieved 500 consecutive home sellouts. The sellout streak ended on April 11, 2013; in all the Red Sox sold out 794 regular season games and an additional 26 postseason games during this streak.
The park's address was originally 24 Jersey Street. In 1977, the section of Jersey Street nearest the park was renamed Yawkey Way in honor of longtime Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, and the park's address is now 4 Yawkey Way.
Some of the changes include:In 1934, a hand-operated scoreboard was added, with what was then considered high-technology lights to indicate balls and strikes. The scoreboard is still updated by hand today from behind the wall. The National League scores were removed in 1976, but restored in 2003 and still require manual updates from on the field.
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 center field bleachers.
In 1988, a glass-protected seating area behind home plate named The 600 Club was built. After Ted Williams' death in 2002, it was renamed the .406 Club in honor of his 1941 season in which he produced a .406 batting average. The section was renamed again in 2006 to the EMC Club.
In 1999 the auxiliary press boxes were added on top of the roof boxes along the first and third base sides of the field.
In 2000, a new video display from Daktronics, measuring 23 feet (7.0 m) high by 30 feet (9.1 m) wide, was added in center field.
Before the 2003 season, seats were added to the Green Monster.
Before the 2004 season, seats were added to the right field roof, above the grandstand, called the Budweiser Right Field Roof.
Before the 2008 season, the Coke bottles, installed in 1997, were removed to return the light towers to their original state. The temporary luxury boxes installed for the 1999 All-Star Game were removed and permanent ones were added to the State Street Pavilion level. Seats were also added down the left field line called the Coca-Cola Party-Deck.
Before the 2011 season, three new scoreboards beyond right-center field were installed: a 38-by-100-foot scoreboard in right-center field, a 17-by-100-foot video screen in center field, a 16-by-30-foot video board in right field, along with a new video control room. The Gate D concourse has undergone a complete remodel with new concession stands and improved pedestrian flow. The wooden grandstand seats were all removed to allow the completion of the waterproofing of the seating bowl and completely refurbished upon re-installation.
On May 15, 1999, then Red Sox CEO John Harrington announced plans for a new Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have seated 44,130 and would have been a modernized replica of the current Fenway Park, with the same field dimensions except for a shorter right field and reduced foul territory. Some sections of the existing ballpark were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout. Most of the current stadium was to be demolished to make room for new development, with one section remaining to house a baseball museum and public park. The proposal was highly controversial; it projected that the park less than 15 years of usable life, would require hundreds of millions of dollars of public investment, and was later revealed to be part of a scheme by current ownership to increase the marketable value of the team as they were ready to sell. Several groups (such as "Save Fenway Park") formed in an attempt to block the move. Discussion took place for several years regarding the new stadium proposal. One plan involved building a "Sports Megaplex" in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, their home throughout most of their history, which ended the Megaplex proposal. The Red Sox and the city of Boston failed to reach an agreement on building the new stadium, and in 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated, and will remain usable until as late as 2061.
The park is located along Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. The area includes many buildings of similar height and architecture and thus it blends in with its surroundings. When pitcher Roger Clemens arrived in Boston for the first time in 1984, he took a taxi from Logan Airport and was sure the driver had misunderstood his directions when he announced their arrival at the park. Clemens recalled telling the driver "No, Fenway Park, it's a baseball stadium ... this is a warehouse." Only when the driver told Clemens to look up and he saw the light towers did he realize he was in the right place.
Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field), and both have a significant number of obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks.
George Will asserts in his book Men at Work that Fenway Park is a "hitters' ballpark", with its short right-field fence (302 feet), narrow foul ground (the smallest of any current major league park), and generally closer-than-normal outfield fences. By Rule 1.04, Note(a), all parks built after 1958 have been required to have foul lines at least 325 feet (99 m) long and a center-field fence at least 400 feet (120 m) from home plate. Regarding the narrow foul territory, Will writes:
The narrow foul territory in Fenway Park probably adds 5 to 7 points onto batting averages. Since World War II, the Red Sox have had 18 batting champions (through 1989)... Five to 7 points are a lot, given that there may be only a 15- or 20-point spread between a good hitting team and a poor hitting team.
Will states that some observers might feel that these unique aspects of Fenway give the Red Sox an advantage over their opponents, given that the Red Sox hitters play 81 games at the home stadium while each opponent plays no more than nine games as visiting teams but Will does not share this view.
The Green Monster is the nickname of the 37.167 feet (11.329 m) left field wall in the park. It is located 310 to 315 feet (94 to 96 m) from home plate; this short distance often benefits right-handed hitters.
Part of the original ballpark construction of 1912, the wall is made of wood, but was covered in tin and concrete in 1934 when the scoreboard was added. The wall was covered in hard plastic in 1976. The scoreboard is manually updated throughout the game. Despite the name, the Green Monster was not painted green until 1947; before that it was covered with advertisements. The Monster designation is relatively new; for most of its history it was simply called "the wall." In 2003, terrace-style seating was added on top of the wall.
"The Triangle" is a region of center field where the walls form a triangle whose far corner is 420 feet (130 m) from home plate. That deep right-center point is conventionally given as the center field distance. The true center is unmarked, 390 feet (120 m) from home plate, to the left of "The Triangle" when viewed from home plate.
There was once a smaller "triangle" at the left end of the bleachers in center field, posted as 388 feet (118 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 nearly a right angle, so the power alley could be estimated at 336 feet (102 m), assuming the power alley is 22.5° away from the foul line as measured from home plate.
"Williamsburg" was the name, invented by sportswriters, for the bullpen area built in front of the right-center field bleachers in 1940. It was built there primarily for the benefit of Ted Williams, to enable him and other left-handed batters to hit more home runs, since it was 23 feet (7.0 m) closer than the bleacher wall.
The lone red seat in the right field bleachers (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) signifies the longest home run ever hit at Fenway. The home run, hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946, was officially measured at 502 feet (153 m) – well beyond "Williamsburg". According to Hit Tracker Online, the ball, if unobstructed, would have flown 520 to 535 feet (158 to 163 m).
The ball landed on Joseph A. Boucher, penetrating his large straw hat and hitting him in the head. A confounded Boucher was later quoted as saying,
How far away must one sit to be safe in this park? I didn't even get the ball. They say it bounced a dozen rows higher, but after it hit my head, I was no longer interested. I couldn't see the ball. Nobody could. The sun was right in our eyes. All we could do was duck. I'm glad I did not stand up.
There have been other home runs hit at Fenway that have contended for the distance title. In the 2007 book The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs, researcher Bill Jenkinson found evidence that on May 25, 1926, Babe Ruth hit one in the pre-1934 bleacher configuration which landed five rows from the top in right field. This would have placed it at an estimated 545 feet (166 m) from home plate. On June 23, 2001, Manny Ramirez hit one that struck a light tower above the Green Monster, which would have cleared the park had it missed. The park's official estimate placed the home run one foot short of Williams' record at 501 feet (152.7 m).
Pesky's Pole is the name for the pole on the right field foul line, which stands 302 feet (92 m) from home plate, the shortest outfield distance (left or right field) in Major League Baseball. Despite the short wall, home runs in this area are relatively rare, as the fence curves away from the foul pole sharply. The pole was named after Johnny Pesky, a light-hitting shortstop and long-time coach for the Red Sox, who hit some of his six home runs at Fenway Park around the pole but never off the pole. Pesky and the Red Sox give credit to pitcher Mel Parnell for 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 off of Julián Tavárez, in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series off that pole's screen.
On September 27, 2006, on Pesky's 87th birthday, the Red Sox organization officially dedicated the right field foul pole as Pesky's Pole with a commemorative plaque placed at its base.
In a ceremony before the Red Sox's 2005 game against the Cincinnati Reds, the pole on the left field foul line atop the Green Monster was named Fisk Foul Pole, in honor of Carlton 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, 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 direct 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 Cincinnati won.
From 1912 to 1933, there was a 10-foot (3.0 m) high incline in front of the then 25-foot (7.6 m)-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 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: it was a support for a high wall and it was built to compensate for the difference in grades between the field and Lansdowne Street on the other side of that wall. The wall also served as a spectator-friendly seating area during the dead ball era when overflow crowds would sit on the incline behind ropes.
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. 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.
There has been debate as to the true left field distance, which was once posted as 315 feet. A reporter from The Boston Globe was able to sneak into Fenway Park and measure the distance. When the paper's evidence was presented to the club in 1995, the distance was remeasured by the Red Sox and restated at 310 feet. The companion 96 meters sign remained unchanged until 1998, when it was corrected to 94.5 meters.
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 has been thought to have changed the air currents in the park to the detriment of hitters. In 2002, the organization renamed the club seats the ".406 Club" (in honor of Ted Williams' batting average in 1941).
Between the 2005 and 2006 seasons the existing .406 club was rebuilt as part of the continuing ballpark expansion efforts. The second deck now features two open-air levels: the bottom level is the new "EMC Club" featuring 406 seats and concierge services and the upper level, the State Street Pavilion, has 374 seats and a dedicated standing room area. The added seats are wider than the previous seats.
The Red Sox's one-time cross-town rivals, the Boston Braves used Fenway Park for the 1914 World Series and the 1915 season until Braves Field was completed; ironically, the Red Sox would then use Braves Field – which had a much higher seating capacity – for their own World Series games in 1915 and 1916.
Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" has been played at Fenway Park since at least 1997, and in the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002. On opening night of the 2010 season at Fenway Park, the song was performed by Diamond himself.
Since 1990 (except in 2005 when, because of field work, it was held in a minor league ballpark), Fenway Park has also played host to the final round of a Boston-area intercollegiate baseball tournament called the Baseball Beanpot. The teams play the first rounds in minor league stadiums before moving on to Fenway for the final and a consolation game. Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst compete in the four-team tournament.
Beginning in 2006, the Red Sox have hosted the "Futures at Fenway" event, where two of their minor-league affiliates play a regular-season doubleheader as the "home" teams. Before the Futures day started, the most recent minor-league game held at Fenway had been the Eastern League All-Star Game in 1977.
The 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament was scheduled to be held at Fenway Park, but a scheduling conflict caused the 2010 tournament to be scheduled at Fenway Park instead. Due to economic reasons, the ACC elected to move the 2010 tournament from Fenway Park to NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, North Carolina, but is still looking to host a tournament at Fenway Park in the future.
Fenway Park has also hosted the Cape Cod Baseball League All Star Game in 2009 and 2010.
Since its construction, Fenway Park has hosted 20 soccer matches. The first game was played on May 30, 1931; 8,000 fans were on hand to see the New York Yankees of the American Soccer League lose to Celtic 6–0. The Yankees goalkeeper, Johnny Reder, would later return to play for the Boston Red Sox. During 1968, the park was home to the Boston Beacons of the now-defunct NASL. In July 2010 Fenway hosted an exhibition game between European soccer clubs Celtic F.C. and Sporting C.P. in an event called "Football at Fenway". A crowd of 32,162 watched the two teams play to a 1-1 draw. Celtic won 6-5 on penalty shoot out, winning the first Fenway football challenge Trophy. Recent matches have taken place between Liverpool, an English Premier League club owned by Fenway Sports Group, and A.S. Roma, an Italian Serie A club. The July 25, 2012 match ended in a 2-1 win for AS Roma before a crowd of 37,169. AS Roma also won the rematch on July 23, 2014 by a score of 1-0.
In 1926, the first American Football League's Boston Bulldogs played at both Fenway and Braves Field; the Boston Shamrocks of the second AFL did the same in 1936 and 1937. The National Football League's Boston Redskins played at Fenway for four seasons, 1933 to 1936, after playing their inaugural season in 1932 at Braves Field as the Boston Braves. The Boston Yanks played there in the 1940s; and the American Football League's Boston Patriots called Fenway Park home from 1963 to 1968 after moving there from Nickerson Field. At various times in the past, Dartmouth College, Boston College and Boston University teams have also played football games at Fenway Park. Boston College and Notre Dame played a game at Fenway in 2015 as part of Notre Dame's Shamrock Series.
The third annual NHL Winter Classic was held at Fenway on New Year's Day in 2010. The Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in sudden-death overtime, securing the first home-team victory in the relatively short history of the NHL Winter Classic. The Winter Classic paved the way for the Frozen Fenway series of ice skating and hockey events at the ballpark. Frozen Fenway is an annual series of collegiate and amateur games featuring ice hockey teams from local and regional colleges and universities, including the University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New Hampshire, University of Maine, University of Vermont, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Northeastern University, Boston College and Boston University, and is held during the first part of the event. After the completion of the hockey series, the rink was opened to the public for free ice skating.
Fenway has been home to several concerts beginning in 1973 when Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles first played there. No further concerts were played there until 2003 when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a leg of their The Rising Tour. Since 2003, there has been at least one concert every year at Fenway by such artists as Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Jason Aldean, Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Phish, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Lady Gaga.
Polartec Big Air At Fenway is the first big air snowboarding and skiing competition that was held on February 11–12, 2016. The spectacle took place at Fenway Park in Boston. This is event was part of the U.S. Grand Prix Tour and the International Ski Federation's World Tour. Notable winter athletes that competed are Ty Walker, Sage Kotsenburg, and Joss Christensen. The big air jump was constructed to be about 140 feet tall, standing above the lights of the stadium.
Frank Fallon was the first public address (PA) announcer for the Red Sox, and held the job from 1953 to 1957. Fred Cusick, better known for his career of announcing Boston Bruins hockey games, joined him in 1956 and also left after 1957. Jay McMaster took over in 1958, until his replacement by Sherm Feller in 1967. Feller served as the announcer for 26 years until his death after the 1993 season. He was known for beginning his games by welcoming the fans with "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to Fenway Park", and ending them by saying "Thank you." Leslie Sterling took the job for the 1994 season, becoming the second female PA announcer in the history of Major League Baseball. Ed Brickley took over in 1997, and was replaced by Carl Beane in 2003. Beane was regarded as an "iconic" announcer, and served until his death in 2012, which was caused by a heart attack suffered while driving. Fenway used a series of guest announcers to finish the 2012 season before hiring its current announcers: Henry Mahegan, Bob Lobel, and Dick Flavin.
There are nine retired numbers above the right field grandstand. All of the numbers retired by the Red Sox are red on a white circle. Jackie Robinson's 42, which was retired by Major League Baseball, is blue on a white circle. The two are further delineated through the font difference; Boston numbers are in the same style as the Red Sox jerseys, while Robinson's number is in the more traditional "block" numbering found on the Dodgers jerseys.
Until the late 1990s, the numbers originally hung on the right-field facade in the order in which they were retired: 9-4-1-8. It was pointed out that the numbers, when read as a date (9/4/18), marked the eve of the first game of the 1918 World Series, the last championship that the Red Sox won before 2004. After the facade was repainted, the numbers were rearranged in numerical order. The numbers remained in numerical order until the 2012 season, when the numbers were rearranged back into the order in which they were retired by the Red Sox.
The Red Sox policy on retiring uniform numbers was once one of the most stringent in baseball—the player had to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, play at least 10 years with the team, and retire as a member of the Red Sox. The final requirement was waived for Carlton Fisk as he had finished his playing career with the Chicago White Sox. However, Fisk was assigned a Red Sox front office job and effectively "finished" his baseball career with the Red Sox in this manner. In 2008, the ownership relaxed the requirements further with the retirement of Johnny Pesky's number 6. Pesky has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but in light of his over 50 years of service to the club, the management made an exception. Pesky would have had 10 seasons, but he was credited with the three seasons he served as an Operations Officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The most recent number retired was 26, worn by Wade Boggs. 2013 World Series Most Valuable Player David Ortiz will have his number 34 retired during the 2017 season.Foul poles are outside the field of play.
A ball going through the scoreboard, either on the bounce or fly, is a ground rule double.
A fly ball striking left-center field wall to right of or on the line behind the flag pole is a home run.
A fly ball striking wall or flag pole and bouncing 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 bouncing into bullpen is a home run.
A ball sticking in the bullpen screen or bouncing into the bullpen is a ground rule double.
A batted or thrown ball remaining behind or under canvas or in tarp cylinder is a ground rule double.
A ball striking the top of the scoreboard in left field in the ladder below top of wall and bouncing out of the park is a ground rule double.
A fly ball that lands above the red line on top of the Green Monster and bounces onto the field of play is ruled a home run.
A fly ball that hits the rail in the right-center triangle is a home run
It is a misconception among fans that a fly ball that gets stuck in the ladder above the scoreboard on the left field wall is ruled a ground rule triple. There is no mention of it in the Red Sox ground rules list.Fenway Park can be reached by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line subway's Kenmore Station on the "B", "C" and "D" branches, as well as the Fenway Station on the "D" branch.
Yawkey Station is served by all MBTA Framingham/Worcester Line commuter rail trains. This line provides service from South Station or Back Bay and points west of Boston. In 2014, the new Yawkey station was completed with full-length platforms, elevators, and access to not only Yawkey Way, but Beacon Street, too.
Another option is taking the Orange Line or commuter rail to Back Bay or Ruggles. The stations are a 30-minute walk to Fenway.
Although the Massachusetts Turnpike passes close to Fenway Park there is no direct connection. Motorists are directed to use local streets or Storrow Drive to access the park.