Fenway Park

A Salute to the Coolest, Cruelest, Longest-Running Major League Baseball Stadium in America


By John Powers

By Ron Driscoll

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Fenway Park. The name evokes a team and a sport that have become more synonymous with a city’s identity than any stadium or arena in the country. Since opening in the same week of 1912 that the Titanic sank, the park’s instantly recognizable confines have seen some of the most dramatic happenings in baseball history, including Carlton Fisk’s “Is it fair?” home run in the 1975 World Series and Ted Williams’s perfectly scripted long ball in his final at-bat. For 100 years, the Fenway faithful have been tested. They have known triumph and heartbreak, miracles and curses — well, one curse in particular — to such a degree that an entire nation of fans heaved a collective sigh of relief when Dave Roberts stole a base by a fingertip in 2004, triggering the most amazing comeback in the game’s annals. To sit and watch a game at Fenway is to recognize that the pitcher is standing on the same mound where Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Babe Ruth pitched, that a hitter is in the same batter’s box where Ty Cobb and Hank Aaron and Shoeless Joe Jackson dug in to take their swings. This is a ballpark that has embraced its odd construction quirks, including the bizarre triangle out in center field and the Green Monster that looms above the left fielder, and today — for better and for worse — it remains largely unchanged from the day it opened. In its long history, Fenway has hosted football, hockey, soccer, boxing, and so much more. It has provided a backdrop to hundreds of historic events having nothing to do with sports, including concerts, religious gatherings, and political rallies. It was the site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s final campaign address, as well as visits by music luminaries from Stevie Wonder to Bruce Springsteen to the Rolling Stones. Through it all, the Boston Globe has been the consistent, respected chronicler of every important moment in park history. In fact, the newspaper played a remarkable role in Fenway’s creation and evolution: the Taylor family — founders and longtime owners of the Globe — owned the ballclub in 1912, helped finance the new stadium, and renamed the team the “Red Sox”. It is the Globe’s insider perspective, combined with more than a century of exemplary journalism, that makes this book the definitive narrative history of both park and team, and a centennial collectors’ item unlike any other. Its pages offer a level of detail that is unmatched, with exceptional writing and hundreds of rarely seen photographs and illustrations.

This is Fenway Park, the complete story, unfiltered and expertly told.



The histories of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox have been intertwined with the Boston Globe from the outset, and also with the Taylor family, which owned the Globe for much of the newspaper’s first 125 years, and which played a key role with the team and its ballpark at various times. Thus we would like to especially thank the Red Sox, present and former staff members of the Globe, and the Taylor family for their involvement in helping to create 100 years of Fenway Park history, and in making it come alive for readers and sports fans in New England, and increasingly, around the world.

A huge thank you as well to Janice Page, the Globe’s book development editor, who masterfully guided the project from start to fruition; to Globe editor Martin Baron, publisher Christopher Mayer, deputy managing editor Mark Morrow, and the entire Sports staff, especially columnists Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan and editor Joe Sullivan. Our appreciation also goes to the book’s keen-eyed photo director, Susan Vermazen, as well as Jim Wilson, Leanne Burden, David Ryan, Jim Davis, Stan Grossfeld, and all members of the photo department, along with graphics staffers Daigo Fujiwara, Javier Zarracina, and David Schutz. Thanks as well to the indefatigable Lisa Tuite and the library staff for their research efforts, and Stephanie Schorow (research and fact checking), Alan Wirzbicki (fact checking), Richard Kassirer, Paul Colton, William Herzog, Jim Matte (proofreading), and Ray Marsden and John Ioven (imaging).

At Running Press, special thanks to editor Greg Jones, designer Joshua McDonnell, and every exacting copy editor who had a hand in these pages.

Cheers to Ben Taylor, for sharing both memories and memorabilia, and to Jim Lonborg, who’s just as classy off the field as he was on it.

As always, we are grateful for the support of Lane Zachary and Todd Shuster at Zachary, Shuster, Harmsworth Literary Agency. We also thank the good people at the Boston Public Library (Jane Winton, Tom Blake, Catherine Wood), Tim Wiles of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and our friends at Dorian Color Lab in Arlington, Massachusetts. And we especially appreciate the generosity of Dan Rea, Susan Goodenow, David Friedman, and everyone in the Fenway Park front office.




On the final day of the 1967 season, teammates and fans rushed Jim Lonborg after he pitched the Red Sox to victory over the Minnesota Twins to gain at least a tie for the American League pennant.

I first saw Fenway Park in 1965 when I was a rookie pitcher for the Red Sox. We had played a couple of exhibitions on the way home from spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, and had flown into Boston on Saturday night. We were staying at the Kenmore Hotel and we walked over for a workout on Sunday. I was used to ballparks like Candlestick Park and Dodger Stadium in California, so it was unique to be in a city setting and enter through a beautiful brick facade.

I remember coming through the tunnel on the first-base side and the first thing I saw was the Wall. I thought, this is where I have to work? I stepped off the distance from home plate to the Wall to see whether the posted distance of 315 feet was an accurate reading and it wasn't. But our coaching staff did a really good job of preparing us mentally to pitch in Fenway. The Wall can help you as much as it hurts you because a lot of line drives are knocked down by it. Since I was a sinkerball pitcher, if balls were up in the sky I wasn't making very good pitches.

My first major-league victory came in Fenway against the Yankees on May 10. It was a thrill to pitch against Mickey Mantle, who'd been one of my boyhood heroes, and I struck him out in his first at-bat. After that, though, he had a single and a homer, and when Mickey hit a double with two out in the ninth Billy Herman, our manager, came out and said, “I think it's time to bring in the Big Guy.” So Dick Radatz came in for the save and we won 3-2.

There weren't many fans at our games during my first two years and sounds travel very well at Fenway so you could hear what players and fans were yelling. But in 1967 after we won 10 in a row and returned from that road trip, we came back to packed seats. People still tell me that it was the greatest summer of their lives. None of us ever had been in a pennant race before. That year we had four teams involved—the Twins, White Sox, Tigers, and us—and you couldn't help but scoreboard-watch. At Fenway we had the best way of keeping score—the guy in the Wall. You would see that number disappear and wait for the next one to come up. It wasn't like it was being blurted out on a Jumbotron. You'd be in a situation where you wouldn't be expecting a cheer and you'd turn around and look at the scoreboard.

That final game against Minnesota was so tense all the way through. To make the comeback we did, to be on the field at the end and celebrate with all the players and then to turn around and see thousands of fans coming onto the field was the most exciting moment of my life. It was something a little kid would think about when he was a make-believe pitcher.

But as the fans were carrying me on their shoulders, the feeling went from jubilation to a little bit of fear. I was going places where I didn't want to go, out by Pesky’s Pole. Finally the police got me to where I wanted to go, which was the clubhouse, where we still had to wait for the Angels-Tigers game to end in Detroit. For us to be sitting around a radio instead of a TV, it reminded me of an old-time movie where you were listening for news of some important event.

After the Angels beat the Tigers and we'd won the pennant, I went upstairs to see Mr. Yawkey to give him the game ball that my teammates had given to me. I knew that it was such a long time since he'd had anything good like that happen for him that I thought he should have it. It was almost like the owner's office in The Natural, with the dark hallway and the dark-paneled room. Mr. Yawkey was there and I gave him the ball. He cried a lot that day. That was a special chapter of a fabled story. The beauty of the Red Sox is that every year is a different chapter—and there's still more to this book.

Whenever I come back to Fenway I try to go in through the same ramp that I did that first time in 1965, and it's the same feeling. It has so many great memories for me. The greenness, the majesty of the Wall. That image never goes away.

Jim Lonborg was the first Red Sox pitcher to win the Cy Young Award (1967)




After the death of my father, John I. Taylor, in June of 1987, I had to clean out his office at the Boston Globe, where he had spent more than five decades as a newspaperman. Most of what I found was unremarkable, with one exception. In the dark recesses of a closet, I discovered a couple of blueprints. One was of Fenway Park and the other a detailed sketch of the hand-operated scoreboard still extant on the park’s left-field wall. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the blueprints were of the renovation of the park in 1933 by then-owner Thomas A. Yawkey. I assumed that they were given to my father because his father, also named John I. Taylor, is credited with having built Fenway Park.

I never met my grandfather. He died in 1938, ten years before I was born. I was vaguely aware—no doubt from reading the great Peter Gammons—that he was the president of Boston’s American League franchise from 1904 to 1911, that he changed the name of the team from the Boston Americans to the Boston Red Sox, and that he built Fenway Park. Other than this, I knew very little about him. Conversations with my older brothers confirm that our father rarely talked about his father. I cannot deny feeling a bit of family pride around his connection to Fenway Park, but I am also aware that my grandfather was thoroughly trashed as a meddlesome owner and dilettante by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson in their book Red Sox Century.

I hung the blueprints in my office at the Globe and then at home after I left the paper in late 1999. When I discovered they were fading because of exposure to the light, I took them off the wall and stored them in our attic where they now reside, gathering dust. (You can see them, restored to their original blue, at left and on the next page.)

As a fan, my experience is not unlike thousands of others in New England. In the first game I can remember attending at Fenway, the Red Sox played the great 1954 Cleveland Indians team that won 111 games during the 154-game regular season. I was seven years old. That same decade, I remember my parents telling me I couldn’t go to a game with the rest of the family because of the polio scare. Like many Red Sox fans of a certain age, I was thrilled by the magical seasons of 1967, 1975, and 1986, when the Sox came within one game of winning the World Series and breaking the Curse of the Bambino. I became addicted to reading newspapers when I was young because of the Red Sox coverage. To this day, Sox stories in the Globe remain one of the first staples I turn to each morning.

On my office wall now, I have a picture of Ted Williams and his beautiful swing during the All-Star Game in 1946. On the same wall, near the Globe front page of August 9, 1974 announcing Nixon’s resignation, is a framed reproduction of the Globe’s front page of October 28, 2004 chronicling the Sox victory in the World Series for the first time since 1918. Like many Red Sox fans, I feel we are extremely fortunate that the current ownership chose to improve Fenway rather than build a new park. They have preserved a national treasure. That choice seems to have been a good business decision too, as the Sox continue to draw extraordinary crowds for home games.

My mother was a consummate Red Sox fan. She used to listen to games on the radio. Curt Gowdy’s mellifluous tones and then Ned Martin’s were familiar sounds in my house growing up. Born in 1915, which made her too young to remember the championship seasons of that year, 1916, and 1918, my mother used to say her one wish was that the Red Sox win a World Series before she died. She died in 1990, missing the championships of 2004 and 2007 that finally ended the club’s long stretch of futility.

There is no way to predict the future, or how long Fenway will survive into the 21st century. It is important not to stay stuck in the past. Fenway, though vastly improved in recent years, is not without flaws. The right-field grandstand seats have lousy sightlines that apparently are very difficult to improve. Legroom is not the park’s strongest suit. Many of the best seats have become financially prohibitive. Nevertheless, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, the park still works remarkably well as a place where fans can enjoy professional baseball at the highest level. Those of us who love the game can only hope that Fenway Park remains an essential part of the soul of New England and of the national pastime for a long time to come.


Benjamin Taylor is a former publisher of the Boston Globe

Blueprint of Fenway Park dated January 8, 1934. It was found in the Boston Globe office of the late John I. Taylor, along with a blueprint of scoreboard renovations (page 16) dated October 25, 1933. Images restored and reproduced (see pullout poster) courtesy of the Taylor family.


The storied home of the Red Sox for a century, “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” also is the oldest in the major leagues, and the most famous. From the classic brick entrance on Yawkey Way, to the unique left-field wall with its manual scoreboard, to Pesky’s Pole in right field, its timeless features are recognized from the Bronx to the Dominican Republic to Japan.

John Updike’s “lyric little bandbox,” which he likened to “an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg,” is so linked with Boston and baseball history that it is a destination in itself, equal to the Freedom Trail and the swan boats, with visitors taking guided ballpark tours even during winter. In Cheers, the long-running situation comedy based in a Back Bay tavern, bartender Sam “Mayday” Malone was a former Red Sox relief pitcher. The fan film Fever Pitch is based around Fenway. It is also where Kevin Costner took James Earl Jones for an inspirational outing in Field of Dreams.

Fenway’s field is like no other. Because the park was jammed into a city lot bounded by narrow streets, its dimensions are a crazy confluence of oblique angles—like the three-sided oddity in center field that can turn the game into Pachinko, with the ball bouncing and rattling about. There is so little playable foul territory that dozens of balls end up in the stands, which are so close to the diamond that fans can hear the players’ chatter.

Fenway is a charmingly auditory experience, from the scalpers on Brookline Avenue (“Who needs tickets?”), to the fans singing “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning, to the playing of “Dirty Water” over the public address system after victories.

Fenway’s endearing quirkiness is the key to much of its allure. Except for some increased seating and creature comforts, the park has remained largely unchanged since it opened in 1912 in the same week that the Titanic sank.

“When I brought my kids to Fenway, they never complained about the inconveniences of the ancient ballpark,” wrote Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who confessed that he still took “some weird comfort in the knowledge that the poles that occasionally obscured our vision of the pitcher are the same green beams that blocked the vision of my dad and his dad when they would take the trolley from Cambridge to watch the Red Sox in the 1920s.”

Babe Ruth threw his first pitch and Ted Williams hit his last home run at Fenway. From Christy Mathewson, to Ty Cobb, to Satchel Paige, to Joe DiMaggio, to Hank Aaron, most of baseball’s greatest names have appeared on Fenway’s stage, which also has accommodated an extraordinary variety of other athletes, politicians, and entertainers.

Three of Boston’s professional football teams—the Redskins, the Yanks, and the Patriots—performed at Fenway. The Bruins and Flyers, two of hockey’s fiercest rivals, played in the Winter Classic there on New Year’s Day. Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his final campaign address at Fenway. The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen all sang there.

Through it all the Boston Globe has been the consistent, respected chronicler—both in words and in pictures—of every important event in Fenway’s history. The Taylor family, the newspaper’s founders and longtime stewards, owned and named both the team and the park. So it’s appropriate that the Globe has produced the definitive book celebrating 100 years of Fenway Park, a collector’s item featuring exceptional writing and unforgettable images from the Globe’s incomparable archive of photographs, illustrations, and front pages.

Every significant moment from every year is here, and then some. The dramatic World Series victory over the Giants in 1912. The 1934 fire that scorched Tom Yawkey’s renovated park. Ted Williams’s “Great Expectoration” of 1956. Jim Lonborg’s “hero’s ride” after putting the Sox in position to secure the Impossible Dream pennant in 1967. Carlton Fisk’s dramatic, “is-it-fair?” homer in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Reds. Bucky “Bleeping” Dent’s heartbreaking screen shot in the 1978 divisional playoff game with New York. Roger Clemens’s record 20 strikeouts against the Mariners in 1986. Dave Roberts’ stolen base against the Yankees in 2004 that was the beginning of the end of 86 years of October frustration.

Fenway is all about lore. The Royal Rooters torturing visiting ballplayers with incessant renditions of “Tessie.” Williams’s monster bleacher shot knocking a hole in a fan’s straw hat. Manny Ramirez’s mystery disappearance inside the belly of the Monster. Jimmy Piersall oinking like a pig on the base paths. Luis Tiant’s rhumba windup that the New Yorker’s Roger Angell dubbed “Call the Osteopath.” Pedro Martinez playing matador to former skipper Don Zimmer’s enraged bull during a brawl with the Yankees. A midget coming out of the stands to cover third when the Indians used the “Williams Shift.”

This is the story of 100 years of Fenway Park, in chapter and verse, by the people who lived it.


A member of the Royal Rooters, a group of passionate Red Sox fans, sounded the drumbeat during a 1903 World Series game with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Rooters continued their antics for several years after the Sox moved to Fenway.

“Now for the opening of Boston’s magnificent new ballpark and a chance to see the Red Sox in action while leading the American League, a position gained while on the road.”


By the time Fenway Park debuted it was something of an anticlimax. The ballpark, which replaced the old Huntington Avenue Grounds, actually had been opened and used 11 days earlier when a handful of fans braved wintry weather to see the Red Sox shut out Harvard College in an exhibition. The game with the New York Highlanders (now Yankees) had been postponed by two days of rain. And most people were preoccupied with the Titanic, which had sunk on April 15 with several dozen New Englanders among those aboard. The day the new ballpark opened it was packed with 24,000 spectators, yet attendance for the season would total only 597,000. Sporting News predicted that the park would become more popular when people got accustomed to “journeying in the new direction.” In its first season Fenway hosted the World Series, and two years later it did so again—for the crosstown Boston Braves. The park’s colorful fandom featured saloonkeeper Michael McGreevy, society lady Isabella Stewart Gardner, and the raucous Royal Rooters, and they cheered the Sox to four world titles in seven seasons. But in Fenway’s early days, it was much more than the home base for the Red Sox; it hosted football, lacrosse, hurling, parades, memorials, and political gatherings. Former President Teddy Roosevelt attended an outing in 1914 at Fenway, 30 years before his cousin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, gave the final campaign speech of his life there. The decade was capped by a rally for Irish independence attended by 50,000, by a world title captured in a season abbreviated by the Great War, and by a trade that would become the 86-year symbol of Red Sox futility.

A rendering of the new ballpark from architect James E. McLaughlin was published in the Boston Globe, which estimated the cost of the park at $1 million.


From the very beginning, the cherished and cursed home of the Boston Red Sox was the most misshapen and quirky collection of angles and corners in baseball. It was, John Updike wrote, “a compromise between Man’s Euclidean determinations and Nature’s beguiling irregularities.” Even the much-beloved name started as a simple tribute to geography. “It’s in the Fenway section, isn’t it?” the team’s owner said at the time.

The very genesis of Fenway Park was a matter of straightforward commerce. John I. Taylor was the owner of a ball club that played in a rented park. What he wanted was to own half of a club playing in a ballpark that he fully controlled, preferably in the embryonic neighborhood where his real estate company owned a large chunk of the reclaimed swampland that he and his partners hoped to develop into one of Boston’s desirable districts.

So he bought more than 365,000 square feet from his company, had architect James McLaughlin draw up plans and sold half of the Red Sox to former Washington Senators manager Jimmy McAleer for $150,000. Taylor then set about building what the Boston Globe promised would be a “magnificent baseball plant” between Lansdowne and Ipswich Streets. The new facility would be made of concrete and steel with a brick exterior that was a cross between a South End bowfront and a New England cotton mill and it would accommodate 28,000 spectators, twice as many as did the wooden Huntington Avenue Grounds in which the team had played since 1901.

Taylor, whose father Charles was publisher of the Globe, opted for the obvious and commercially convenient name of Fenway Park. The constraints of the site, cost, calendar, and concern for squinting batsmen led to Fenway’s endearing and infuriating dimensions.

Since Taylor didn’t want hitters blinded by the setting sun in an era when games began at 3:30 p.m., he had the diamond oriented with home plate looking out toward Lansdowne.

He didn’t want freeloaders sneaking into the standing areas in the outfield or peering down from nearby rooftops, so he erected a 25-foot wooden wall that he could cover with paid advertisements and that was buttressed by a 10-foot incline that made fielding fly balls something between art and accident.

Red Sox team president John I. Taylor, whose father was principal owner of the Globe, sold half of the Red Sox and built Fenway Park on land that he owned in the newly developed Fenway section of the city.

The first ball put into play in the first game at Fenway Park, with an inscription by umpire Tom Connolly.

The Boston Post ran several photos of the new ballpark the day after the Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders, 7-6, in 11 innings, in the park’s inaugural game.

Hall of Fame outfielder Harry Hooper is the only man to play on four Red Sox world championship teams.


Although the foundation was designed to support an upper deck, Taylor wanted his $650,000 playpen finished in time for the 1912 season, which left only seven months from the September groundbreaking. So a grandstand was built to hold 15,000 ticket holders with additional seating along the lines. Quartets of box seats were offered at $250 for the season, with pavilion seats going for 50 cents a game and bleacher spaces for 25 cents.

Fenway Park was such a novelty and the April weather so inhospitable that what the Globe called “the real down-to-the-book official dedication with the music stuff, the flowers and the flags” did not occur until May 17, when the Sox lost to Chicago, 5-2, after leading 2-1 until the ninth, before 17,000 fans. Only 3,000 witnesses had turned out for the dress rehearsal on April 9, a 2-0 exhibition game victory over Harvard that was played amid snow flurries. “It was no day for baseball,” the Globe concluded. Nor were April 18 and Patriots Day, when the scheduled league opener and rescheduled doubleheader were rained out.

When the sun finally appeared on April 20, more than 24,000 fans were on hand for the first official game and what would, in later decades, become a celebrated rarity—a victory over New York, this one achieved in 11 innings by a 7-6 count.


On Sale
Mar 6, 2012
Page Count
272 pages
Running Press

John Powers

About the Author

John Powers made his first visit to Fenway on June 14, 1956 when he witnessed a normal ballgame of the era; the Sox nearly blew a five-run lead and Don Buddin made an error. Since joining the Globe sports staff in 1973 he has spent hundreds of hours watching games from the elevated perspective of the press box before heading to the clubhouse to ask the players to explain the inexplicable. He still has no idea why Johnson took out Willoughby. Powers lives outside Boston.

Ron Driscoll attended many Red Sox doubleheaders with his brother, Tom, in the mid-1960s, and later suffered the indignity of living in Kenmore Square surrounded by Yankee fans when he majored in journalism at Boston University in the late 1970s. A former copy editor for the Cape Cod Times and the Boston Globe, he lives in Marstons Mills, Massachusetts, with his wife Kathi and daughters Molly and Meg, and is manager of editorial services for the United States Golf Association.

The Boston Globe, winner of twenty-one Pulitzer Prizes, is New England’s leading daily newspaper. It is wholly owned by The New York Times Company.

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