Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 100 Fenway Park

Fenway Park is 100 years old today and the Red Sox will honor the day by taking on their arch Nemesis the New York Yankees at 3:05PM today.  I think I first saw my baseball game there with my family when I was 5 years old. In my life time I have been to at least 5 games at Fenway park in my life time I've sat on the left field, upper box, the bleachers and the in the sky box. I haven't seen a game from the Monster seats yet but I will some day. It's probably one of the best place to see a baseball game and you are just encompassed in the game with some of the most passionate fans cheering our team on. You really haven't seen or experienced a baseball game until you have been to Fenway Park. The best food can be found outside the park from the street vendors I highly recommend getting a sausage sandwich with peppers and onions and don't for get to pick up a bag of warm peanuts in a paper bag. Go Red Sox!!! 

Boston, Massachusetts. The left field runs along Lansdowne Street to the north, along the Boston & Albany Railroad tracks in left center and the Massachusetts Turnpike.  The right field wall, to the east, runs along Ipswich Street and the Fenway Garage building.  Third base (W) is on Brookline Avenue and Jersey Street (renamed Yawkey Way after BoSox owner in 1976), and first base (S) is bordered by Van Ness Street, which was built after park was done.

Dimensions - HistoryLeft field: 324 (1921), 320.5 (1926), 320 (1930), 318 (1931), 320 (1933), 312 (1934), 315 (1936) (figure revised to 310 in 1995)Left-center: 379 (1934)Deep left-center at flagpole: 388 (1934); flagpole removed from field of play (1970)Center field: 488 (1922), 468 (1930), 388.67 (1934), 389.67 (1954), 390 (current)Deepest corner, just right of center: 550 (1922), 593 (1931), 420 (1934) Right-center, just right of deepest corner where the bullpen begins: 380 (1938), 383 (1955)Right of right-center: 405 (1939), 382 (1940), 381 (1942), 380 (1943)Right field: 313.5 (1921), 358.5 (1926), 358 (1930), 325 (1931), 358 (1933), 334 (1934), 332 (1936), 322 (1938), 332 (1939), 304 (1940), 302 (1942); backstop: 68 (1912), 60 (1934). Foul territory: smallest in the majors.
The Green Monster:  Still, Fenway had a new look on Opening Day 1934.  Concrete bleachers in center replaced wood, "Duffy's Cliff" was leveled off (though not completely), and the 37-foot wooden left field wall was replaced by a more durable, 37-foot sheet metal structure, which would later become known as the infamous "Green Monster" after advertisements were covered by Field Green paint in 1947.  Though it was tall, the "Monster" wasn't tall enough to protect the windows of Lansdowne Street and a 23 1/2' screen was placed on top in 1936.
 Fenway Park was opened in 1912 and is the oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues.  Fenway was named by then owner John I. Taylor for the section of Boston in which it is located.  The ballpark is best known for its Green Monster, a 37 foot high wall that extends straight from left field to center field.  The park has the lowest seating capacity in the Major Leagues but continue to draw two million in annual attendance.  Fenway has played host to three All-Star games and what some may regard as the best World Series game ever - Game 6 in 1975 (Boston vs Cincinnati).  Fenway Park has one of the last hand-operated scoreboards in the Major Leagues in the left-field wall. Green and red lights are used to signal balls, strikes, and outs.   Before 1934, a steep 10-foot embankment ran in front of the wall where fans were allowed to sit.  The Sox' Duffy Lewis was so skilled at playing balls hit to the ledge that it became known as "Duffy's Cliff."  Teamed with Tris Speaker in center and Harry Hooper in right, Lewis was part of what many argue was the best defensive outfield of all time.   A May 8, 1926 fire destroyed bleachers along the left field line, and John Quinn (the owner at the time) neglected to rebuild the bleachers due to a lack of funds.  Left fielders didn't complain though, since they were able catch foul balls for outs behind the stands.  That continued until the park underwent a major overhaul in 1934 under Tom Yawkey, who bought the financially-strapped club in 1933.  The 1934 project to revitalize Fenway came to a screeching halt on January 5 when a second fire ravaged the building for five hours.  Few areas of the park were left undamaged.
   Though not the hitters' paradise it once was, Fenway Park still plays very lively, especially for right-handers.  In 1983, private suites were built on the grandstand roof along the foul lines, largely cutting off the wind that used to blow out so fiercely in the summer months; since then Fenway has been an average home run park.  In recent years it has been pretty close to neutral for runs as well, and among the toughest place to homer for left-handers.
   The reasons for this being a great park for batsmen are threefold:
1) The park has the smallest foul territory in the majors, and near the foul poles it is non-existent.  That means that pop-ups that might get caught elsewhere end up in the seats, and give hitters another swing.
2) The 17-ft center field wall also provides a great hitting background, since most pitchers' release points take place against a solid green background instead of the multicolored distraction of the bleachers.  (Some left-handers with an overhand delivery can reach "over the top" and into the bleachers to camouflage their pitches, but statistically speaking lefties generally don't do much worse than righties.)
3) Most importantly, all of the action unfolds in the shadow of baseball's most recognizable landmark - the Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field which makes left field a cozy space and which can convert routine flyballs into extra-base hits.  For over 50 years, the wall was listed at 315 feet away from the plate, a very generous estimate that was regarded as about as accurate as David Wells' listed weight of 235 pounds.  In 1995 the Red Sox (without explanation) changed the number to 310 feet, but more realistically the wall is probably closer to 300 feet away.
   Both the quirks of the Monster and the vast amount of territory in right field - plus the quirks of the wall near the right-center bullpen, which extends onto the playing surface and is surrounded by an 8-foot fence - makes Fenway a great doubles park.  The bullpen was built in 1940, with the arrival of lefty Ted Williams onto the scene, and cut down the distance to the right-center wall from 405 feet to just over 380 feet. 
Defense: Fenway may be the only park in the majors where the corner outfielders have it tougher than the center fielder.  Playing the Green Monster, with all its quirks and bounces, is a special skill, and the enormous right field - one of the largest in the majors - is also difficult.  Although the right field foul pole is just 302 feet from the plate, it drops back almost immediately to 380 feet; as a result, the right fielder has as much territory to cover as the center fielder, and must have a strong throwing arm.   The deepest part of the park - "The Triangle" - is in right-center, where the high, 17-foot center-field fence meets the "Williamsburg" bullpen at a bizarre 90-degree angle.  A ball hit here will take unpredictable caroms, and the result is that Fenway tends to give up a lot of triples here.   The Green Monster is extremely forgiving to left fielders with poor range, but the fielder must also learn to play the Wall's tricky rebounds.  As soon as the ball is hit, the fielder must judge the strength and angle of the drive and anticipate the point of return; Carl Yastrzemskibecame a master at this, and threw out dozens of baserunners trying to stretch Fenway singles into doubles.   As a result of all this, Fenway typically has the highest outfield error indices in the majors.
Fun Facts 
  • Second highest double factor in AL in 2001
  • Third highest batting average/LH avg factor in AL in 2001
  • Third lowest infield error factor in AL in 2001
  • Highest error factor and infield-error factor in the AL in 1999 and 2000
  • Second highest batting average factor in the AL in 1999 and 2000
  • Third highest left-handed batting average factor in the AL in 2000
  • Second highest right-handed batting average factor in the AL in 2000
  • Second highest left-handed batting average factor in the AL in 1999
  • Third highest run factor in the AL in 1999
  • Second lowest home run factor in the AL in 2000
  • Lowest home run factor in the AL in 1999
  • Lowest LHB home run factor in the AL in 1998, 1999 and 2000
  • Highest double factor in the AL in 1998
  • Highest RHB batting-average factor in the AL in 1998
  • No ball has ever been hit over the right-field roof, though during the home run derby in 1999, Mark McGwire hit several moonshots into the light standards in center field
  • Infield grass was transplanted from Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds to Fenway in 1912.
  • Fenway opened on April 20, 1912, the same day as Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, and before any of the other existing big league parks. It held 35,000 fans then, and today it holds 34,218. The Red Sox fit 47,627 people into Fenway for a September 22, 1935, doubleheader against the New York Yankees. Fire laws in the 1940's ended that type of overcrowding and the biggest postwar crowd was 36,388 for a game against the Cleveland Indians in 1978.
  • Site of the 1999, 1961 (II) and 1946 All Star games.
  • The seats made of oak.
  • 1976 electronic scoreboard significantly altered the wind currents.
  • 43 private 28-seat rooftop boxes added in 1984.
  • Duffy’s Cliff was a 10-foot-high mound which formed an incline in front of the left field wall from 1912 to 1933, extending from the left-field foul pole to the flag pole in center; named after the Red Sox’s Duffy Lewis, the acknowledged master of defensive play on the cliff. It was greatly reduced but not completely eliminated in 1934
  • A ladder starts near the upper-left corner of the scoreboard, 13 feet above ground, and rises to the top of the Green Monster; this allows the groundskeeper to remove batting-practice home run balls from the netting above the wall.
  • Behind the manual scoreboard in left field is a room where the walls are covered with signatures of players that have played left field through the years.
  • Scoreboard numbers - runs and hits: 16 inches by 16 inches, 3 pounds; errors, innings, pitcher’s numbers: 12 inches by 16 inches, 2 pounds.
  • Home run balls that hit uprights above the left-field wall were declared in play by the umpires.
  • Wooden bleachers stood in foul territory down the left field line in the 1910s and 1920s but burned down on May 8, 1926. The charred remains were removed, increasing the size of foul territory there. Wooden bleachers were completed in center and right-center for the 1912 World Series.
  • During the winter of 1933-1934, all of the wooden grandstands were replaced with concrete and steel. A big fire on January 5, 1934, destroyed much of what had already been built, but all was finished for the season opener on April 17, 1934.
  • In 1936 a 23-foot, 7-inch net was placed atop the wall in left to protect windows on Landsdowne Street.
  • Wind usually helps the batters. A new pressbox built in the late 1980s above home plate causes wind swirl that pushes foul balls back into fair territory.
  • When tin covered the 2-by-4s on the left-field wall, balls hitting the tin over the 2-by-4s had a live bounce, but balls hitting between the 2-by-4s were dead and just dropped straight down.
  • In 1940, in an effort to help Ted Williams hit home runs, the Red Sox added the right-field bullpens, known as Williamsburg, which reduced the distance to the fence by 23 feet.
  • A seat in the right field bleachers is painted red to mark the spot where longest measurable home run ever hit inside Fenway Park landed. Ted Williams hit the home run on June 9, 1946 off Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers. It was measured at 502 feet and supposedly crashed through the straw hat of the man sitting in the seat (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21).
  • The 1946 roof boxes were replaced in 1982.
  • The screen behind home plate, designed to protect fans and allow foul balls to roll back down onto the field of play, was the first of its kind in the majors.
  • Left-field scoreboard, installed on the wall in 1934, moved 20 feet to the right in 1976.
  • The low concrete base of the left- and center-field walls was padded after the 1975 World Series, during which Fred Lynn crashed into the concrete wall in center.
  • The left-field foul line was measured by Art Keefe and George Sullivan, authors of The Picture History of the Boston Red Sox, in October 1975 as 309 feet, 5 inches. On October 19, 1975, the Boston Globe used aerial photography and measured it at 304.779 feet. Osborn Engineering Co. blueprints document the distance at 308 feet. In 1995, the Red Sox, with no fanfare, revised the distance to left field to 310 feet.
  • Retired Red Sox uniform numbers hung in right field in numerical order: Bobby Doerr (1) in 1988, Joe Cronin (4) in 1984, Carl Yastrzemski (8) in 1989, Ted Williams (9) in 1984 and Carlton Fisk (27) in 2000.

1 comment:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Robbie:
As you are most likely aware already, this is not our scene but wonderful for those who do enjoy this sport.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...