Saturday, 2:15 PM
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
When 37,662 fans streamed through the turnstiles at Fenway Park last night, the Red Sox set a new Major League record with its 456th consecutive regular season sellout.
The streak, which dates to May 15, 2003, has seen an attendance of 16,336,192. That's the equivalent of every Bostonian going to more than 27 games at Fenway over the last six seasons. (It would even accommodate all residents of New York City. Twice.)
From those creaky green seats built almost a century ago with the wood of ash trees, fans have watched Red Sox hurlers throw 66,991 pitches in 4,144 innings. They have cheered the crack of 4,636 hits in 15,615 at bats for the home team, for an average of .297. That includes 2,727 runs and 525 deep drives that lifted the crowd to its feet as the ball sailed into the stands or beyond.
During the sellout streak, fans have been treated to 297 wins. Forty of those victories have come in the bottom of the final inning, from Manny Ramirez's game winning single against the Houston Astros on June 15, 2003, to the thriller last Wednesday afternoon when Alex Cora scored on a throwing error by a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. That includes 16 walk-off home runs, from David Ortiz's solo shot September 23, 2003, against the Orioles to Kevin Youkilis's two-run dinger this past June against St. Louis.
Despite the heroics, the Sox have fallen short in 159 games, giving up 1,947 earned runs.
During the wins and losses leading up to last night's game, fans have chomped 6,420,815 Fenway Franks, munched 1,873,417 Italian sausages, torn open 2,301,495 bags of peanuts, and slurped 2,463,000 soft drinks. (The Red Sox did not respond to a question about how much beer has been consumed.)
When the streak began in 2003, Fenway's official capacity was 34,482 for day games and 34,898 at night. Over the last six seasons, roughly 2,500 seats have been squeezed into the ballpark. Now 36,984 can catch a game during the day and 37,400 fit inside the park at night.
The average ticket price for a "non-premium seat" has gone up $12.90, from $42.26 in 2003 to $55.16 this season. Bleacher tickets went from $20 to $26. And the most expensive seat in the park (homeplate dugout box) jumped $50 to $325 this season.
The last game at Fenway that did not sell out was on May 14, 2003, when 32,485 came to watch the Red Sox clobber the Texas Rangers 7-1 and move within 1 game of the first-place Yankees. Nomar Garciaparra blasted a 2-run homer and starter Casey Fossum held Texas to 4 hits and 1 run over 5 innings.
The next night, 33,801 fans packed Fenway on a cloudy, cool evening and watched Pedro Martinez pitch 6 innings of shutout baseball. The Red Sox downed the Rangers 12-3. A streak was born.
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