Did you know Fenway Park celebrated its centennial in 2012, or that it’s the country’s oldest baseball stadium still in use? How about the fact its looming left field wall is known as the Green Monster?
Yes? Well, that’s not surprising – all these things are pretty well known. Here are a few Fenway facts that aren’t common knowledge.
Fenway currently boasts an official capacity of 37,673 according to the team, but a whopping 47,627 would cram into the park on Sept. 22, 1935 for a doubleheader against the Yankees — the best-attended game in Fenway history. It wasn’t the park’s largest crowd ever, though: nearly 60,000 people crammed into Fenway 16 years earlier for a political rally by Irish politican Eamon de Valera, said Raymond Sinibaldi, author of a handful of books on Red Sox history.
Fenway Park’s first extra innings game was also its first game — the Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders (which became the Yankeest the following season) 7-6 in 11 innings on Fenway Park’s grand opening on April 20, 1912.
Not Just Baseball
Fenway Park is best known as the home of the Boston Red Sox, but over the years it’s also featured professional football games (including the then-Boston Patriots), wrestling competitions, lacrosse, basketball and hockey, the team said. Boston and Northeastern Universities’ football teams even called Fenway home for stretches, Sinibaldi said.
Fenway Park has seen some crazy displays over the years, and one of the wildest occurred on June 19, 1914 when a trio of elephants named Mollie, Waddy and Tony visited the park as part of a fundraiser for Boston-area children. More than 40,000 people attended, according to The Boston Globe.
The Green Monster Wasn’t Always Green
The Green Monster is one of the best-known physical features of any major league ballpark, but for its first 35 years, its defining feature – that vibrant greenness – wasn’t a feature at all. It wasn’t until 1947 that the wall was painted green. Twenty-eight years later, the tin wall was replaced with hard plastic, which remains there today.
Fenway Park’s grand opening in 1912 should have been a momentous occasion for the town, but another event had a stranglehold on the city’s attention: the sinking of the Titanic five days earlier. The team’s home opener was also postponed three times due to rain.
The Red Seat
The seats in Fenway are famously green save for a sole red one in the right field bleachers. According to Baseball Almanac, Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21 marks where the longest home run ever hit in Fenway — Ted Williams’ 502-foot blast off Detroit’s Fred Hutchison on June 9, 1946 — fell.
Rat in the Wall
The image of Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk waving his home run ball fair in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is one of the most iconic shots in sports history, and the story surrounding the unique shot is an interesting piece of baseball lore. Per Sinibaldi, the left field cameraman was instructed to follow the ball but refused to do so because of an enormous rat. Instead, he kept his camera trained on Fisk as he moved up the base path, capturing the memorable scene.
The Fenway Fires
The skeleton of Fenway park is now steel and concrete, but for its early history, the park was mostly made of wood. A section of the left field grandstand burned in a fire in 1926, but the then-floundering Sox were drawing poor attendance and the section wasn’t repaired until a second fire in 1934 shortly after Tom Yawkey bought the team.
Legendary Broadcaster’s Debut
In 1948, Boston University hosted Maryland at Fenway Park in a game that would be forgotten to history if it weren’t for one thing: the radio broadcast was the first ever done by Vin Scully, who has been the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers since before their move from Brooklyn.
Angels in the Outfield
Fenway Park isn’t just a destination for the Red Sox faithful — it’s one for the religious faithful as well. Cardinal William Henry O’Connell said mass at Fenway in 1918 in honor of those who died in World War 1 and returned 16 years later to celebrate 50 years as a priest. His eventual successor, Cardinal Richard Cushing, held a mass there in the 1940s.
Dents in the Monster
On TV the Green Monster looks like a uniform green sheet, but it’s actually pock-marked by tens of thousands of dents from the balls that have hit the wall since its current incarnation was installed in 1975. So how many dents are there in the Green Monster’s facade? That depends on whom you ask. The Boston Globe estimated 211,044 dents in a 2014 report, with an image software company contacted by the paper offering an estimate of 164,430. Either way – that’s a lot of dents.