You know about the Morse code on the old scoreboard, you know about the red chair in right field, you know that the consecutive sellout streak is bogus, and you know that Manny Ramirez peed behind the scoreboard a few times. But there a few things you might not know about America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.
1. The ground rules get more and more ridiculous
Every park is slightly weird, but Fenway’s eccentricities work like a colossal pinball game. Players net a double (not a triple) when the ball pops out from the Monster’s ladder to nowhere, the only "in-play" ladder to nowhere in baseball. A shot through the famed manual scoreboard, on the fly or on the bounce, is also a ground-rule double, kind of like MULTI-BALL!!! But with bases.
2. The Green Monster was once a pile of dirt
From 1912 to 1933, a 10ft incline slope called "Duffy’s Cliff" occupied left field because of some old-timey civil engineering. After a series of unfortunate fires, the 1934 renovations birthed "The Wall," originally blue and still the tallest wall in the majors at 37ft. In 1947, they applied the signature paint to bring the Green Monster to life.
3. Canvas Alley was made for elephants
Canvas Alley, formerly a large gap between the right field grandstands, stretched all the way to Van Ness St and was designed to accommodate circus elephants. (Remember circuses?) Over time, the passageway was built over and significantly narrowed, and it became the crowded game-time home of the grounds crew... who don’t seem to mind.
4. The Sox first adopted the netting that keeps fans from getting drilled
Foul balls injure almost 2,000 fans each year, and that number would be dramatically higher without the home plate foul ball screen, which was first used at Fenway. You’re welcome, baseball fans, for less head trauma and less spilled beer.
5. Ben Affleck ruined someone’s wedding at the ballpark
One day, while filming The Town, the crew shared Fenway with a wedding party, as in real people getting really married on the field. Fake gun shots were fired in the concourses, wedding attendees screamed and dove for cover, because... you know... bullets. Not your typical shotgun wedding.
6. The right field roof remains uncharted territory
In over 100 years, not a single player has launched a dinger over that part of Fenway, not even a performance-enhanced Mark McGwire in the '99 Home Run Derby. Yaz came close with a 472ft home run, because... ahem... that’s what Triple Crown winners do.
7. Right field used to be a parking lot for players
Originally there were no seats in right field, and players parked their totally unassuming buggies there. Once cars became the rage, they moved to the corner micro-lot at Van Ness and Yawkey. Today that’s the best spot to catch your heroes and watch them drive away in totally assuming Range Rovers to where rich people live.
8. Ted Williams demanded steaming hot showers
On the left field concourse and the Steiner Sports Deck you’ll find some steampunk-looking copper tanks just hanging out. They are really clubhouse heaters requested by Teddy Ballgame himself so he and the fellas could have warmer showers. The team used them up until 2004 (right when Johnny Damon was cultivating that caveman look).
9. The press has it pretty good
Fenway’s diminutive dimensions make it one of the smallest ballparks in the land. However, looming above home plate (and the 600/406/EMC Club) is the majors’ largest press box, big enough to accommodate 50+ journalists as well as Dan Shaughnessy. So that’s 50+ times you’ll hear about Sandoval’s fat contract (and his fat body) during every game this season.
10. You can request an audience with his greatness... Wally
The giant Muppet-like mascot, with his giant size 37 baseball hat, roams the grounds spreading good cheer and shooting his T-shirt bazooka. If you want to personally meet Fenway’s fuzzy ambassador, drop him an email and he’ll visit your seat during the game. Unless he’s busy conspiring against Tampa Bay's mascot.
11. You can sit in the last wooden seats in the major leagues
The blue grandstand seats are the last wooden seats left in baseball. The oldest school. Last refurbished (i.e. de-splintered) in 2009, many of these beauties still have the original oak slats. It’s like sitting ON history.
12. FDR delivered his last campaign speech ever at Fenway
While wrapping up WWII, running for his soon-to-be fourth term, and smoking that long cigarette, Roosevelt stumped at the ballpark on November 4th, 1944, the last stop before the election. Frank Sinatra sang the National Anthem, making FDR and Ol’ Blue Eyes a couple of Fenway Franks.
13. Sunday Funday was forbidden
Puritans 1, Sox 0. Due to its close proximity to several churches, Fenway couldn’t host games on Sundays during its first 20 years. The Sox played those outings at Braves Field on Commonwealth until the unnecessary blue law changed in 1932.
14. Fenway was once home to America’s other favorite pastime
From the 1950s until 2003, a bowling alley occupied the corner basement where Game On is now. That’s two different kinds of strike zones under one proverbial roof. Fun fact: wood from the old lanes was repurposed for the bar top on the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck. (Rent-a-shoes not required.)
15. Those trees on Yawkey are wicked old
Planted when the park was built, the grand elms on Yawkey Way were merely saplings on the very first opening day, April 9th, 1912. They've had a lot of time to come to grips with 86-year championship drought followed by pink Red Sox hats.
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