Major League Baseball Park #17 out of 39
Saturday, September 14, 1996
Chicago White Sox 13, Boston 5
W– Tony Castillo
L – Tom Gordon
Attendance – 31,841
Sunday, September 15, 1996
Boston 9, Chicago White Sox 8
W– Heathcliff Slocumb
L – Roberto Hernandez
Attendance – 32,452
Tuesday, July 7, 2004
Boston 11, Oakland Athletics 3
W– Pedro Martinez
L – Mark Redman
Attendance – 35,012
Fenway Park opened April 20, 1912 -- five days after the sinking of the
Titanic. Appropriately, the Red Sox spent the majority of the next 92 years
being sunk by an iceberg emblazoned with the words, "World Series Champions."
Now that I've made two separate trips to Fenway, I think it's entirely possible that nefarious North Atlantic iceberg was bigger than Boston's baseball park. The concourses are only comfortable to walk through if you're shorter than 5' 6" (were people shorter back then?). A crowd of 37,000 is considered to be over capacity. The John Hancock sign in the outfield seems to span most of center field and the signature logo is to scale with John's scribble in the Declaration of Independence.
That being said, Fenway is my second-favorite older baseball park. It fits very nicely within its neighborhood. It's easy to reach by public transit. Everything's either painted green or covered with bricks. The fans are certified lunatics. I'm not surprised, though, given the team's propensity for not just losing the big games, but losing them in historically significant fashion.
From 1903 to 1918, the Pilgrims/Red Sox won five World Series titles. After the 1919 season, they sold their unhappy superstar, Babe Ruth, to the New York Yankees. Boston lost the 1946 Series in seven games. They lost the 1967 Series in seven games. They lost the 1975 Series in seven games. They lost the 1986 Series in...yup, you guessed it, seven games. Bill Buckner, the defensive replacement inserted into the lineup at the end of Game Six, is widely considered to be the pariah of Boston's failure to win it all that season, but few people remember Calvin Schiraldi's wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score.
There were so many great players that played their home games at Fenway: Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker, Herb Pennock, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs...and those are just the Hall of Famers. So much history in such a small, cramped place. The Green Monster. The Pesky Pole. The red seat out in the right-field bleachers where Ted Williams' last homer landed at the end of the 1960 season.
Boston was at the end of our 1996 trip and it was very appropriate to finish there after our visit to Cooperstown. We saw the last two games of a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox. The first game, a blowout loss to the Pale Hose wasn't all that memorable, but I've lost count of the number of times I've recounted the story of what happened in the second game.
Burly first-baseman Frank Thomas stepped up in the first inning and clubbed a homerun over the Green Monster to put his team on top 1-0. He hit another homer over the Monster in the third inning to bring his team back into the game, down only 3-2. In the fifth inning, his third solo homer of the game sailed over the Coke bottles above the legendary left-field wall. By this time, Chicago had only four hits, but they were all solo homers. When he stepped up again in the 7th inning, the game was tied 6-6, and with Tony Phillips on second, Thomas was intentionally walked. Well, of course, losing out on a chance to see history, the Boston fans booed. However, by the time the eighth inning rolled around, Boston had fought back to tie the game at 8, so when Thomas struck out swinging, the crowd cheered. Those fans know what's going on during the game.
When we visited Fenway in early July of 2004, we actually had the time to do some tourist stuff in the area. We visited Boston Common (a park founded in 1634) and Boston Public Gardens (founded in 1837) and I walked the entire Freedom Trail in about three hours. The game on Tuesday wasn't all that memorable. We did notice that advertisements are starting to appear on the Monster again. We really had fun with a recent tradition (no idea how long it's been going on) of the music guy playing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" during the 8th inning and the crowd joining in during the "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" part. Fun stuff.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the end of the so-called curse in October of 2004 with their surprising sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. We almost want to take partial credit for it, though, because since we started doing baseball road trips, we've been to four parks during the same season they won World Series titles: Yankee Stadium in 1996 and 2000, Anaheim Stadium in 2002, and then Fenway. If only that kind of good fortune would happen somewhere within our city limits someday.
Pictures below are (from left to right) from the 2004 trip: the Fenway pressbox as seen from our seats, a marker on an outside wall noting when the park was built and when it was remodeled, the infield as seen from our seats, a tombstone marking the five people who died in the 1770 Boston Massacre, the front of the Robert Gould Shaw memorial (honoring the Massachusetts 54th Regiment who fought in the American Civil War), and Paul Revere's house near the downtown area. Sure, I took a picture of the front of the bar shown on the TV series "Cheers", but look at all of this historical stuff.
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