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April 19, 2012

Ten Things About Fenway Park

When the Boston Red Sox play host to the New York Yankees Friday, it will mark the 100th anniversary of the team’s historic stadium.  You see, Fenway Park opened its doors April 20, 1912 against (coincidentally) the New York Highlanders and beat the soon-to-be-renamed Yankees 7-6 in eleven innings.

Here are ten things you might not have known about the historic park located at 4 Yawkey Way.

In 1911, then-team owner John Taylor broke ground on the piece of land that ended up being home to Fenway Park.  $650,000 and a year later…the stadium was complete.  And in case you’re wondering, that’s a mere $15.7 million by today’s standards.  By comparison, the New York Yankees just spent close to $1.5 billion for their new home.

Without a doubt, Fenway Park is regarded as a hitters’ park…but it’s not for the reasons you might think.  Never mind the short porch in rightfield, it’s the league-small 99,000 square feet of foul territory that helps (according to George Will) add “five to seven points to batting averages”.

When Fenway Park opened 100 years ago, it could hold 35,000 fans.  Today, a capacity crowd is 37,493.  During a September 22, 1935 doubleheader against the New York Yankees, the team managed to shoehorn 47,627 people into the bandbox.

Of the 28 hitters with more than 3000 career hits, only a handful ever suited up for the Boston Red Sox.  And of those hitters, it’s Carl Yastrzemski that is tops when it comes to hits at Fenway Park.  The 1989 Hall of Fame inductee collected an amazing 1822 regular season base hits at the stadium.

In 2008, the Boston Red Sox broke a Major League record by selling out its 456th consecutive game.  Assuming Friday’s game against the rival New York Yankees is a sellout, it will be the 720th consecutive sellout for the team…dating back to May 15, 2003, a 12-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

As the story goes, on June 9, 1946, Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams hit a 502 foot home run that crashed through the straw hat of a New York Yankees fan.  In case you’re curious how far that home run traveled, head to Fenway Park and look for Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21…it’ll be the lone red seat among a sea of green bleacher seats.  The original seat is is the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As a shock to no one, the 2005 movie “Fever Pitch” didn’t bring home a single Academy Award nomination.  On the other hand, John Williams has been nominated for 47.  What does the legendary composer have to do with the Boston Red Sox?  Dude composed the official theme for the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park.  Yup…there is such a thing.

Everyone knows the Green Monster in leftfield is just a hair more than 37-feet high, right?  But, does everyone know that it didn’t start at that height?  From 1912 to 1933, the then wooden wall was 25-feet high and featured a 10-foot high incline in front of it.  Why?  Something had to support the thing and, naturally, a mass of dirt would be the likely candidate.

At the base of the Green Monster is Fenway Park’s legendary hand operated scoreboard.  Since it has to be seen from hundreds of feet away, the numbers are definitely a little bigger than one might suspect.  But just how big?  The runs and hits tiles are 16 inches by 16 inches and weigh three pounds apiece.

From World Series celebrations to NHL hockey games.  Legendary rock concerts to championship boxing matches…Fenway Park has been the home of plenty of memorable moments.  That said, the 100 year old stadium has never seen a perfect game.  The closest it came was in 1917.  Babe Ruth started the game and walked the leadoff hitter.  Ruth argued the call and was tossed out of the game.  Ernie Shore came in in relief and after that initial batter was thrown out trying to steal second…retired the next 26 batters he faced.

Lastly, and this isn't as much a fun fact as a "look below", did you know that the purchase of the land Fenway Park sits on was recently the subject of a stage play?  Look below!

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