Owner General Charles Henry Taylor, a Civil War veteran and owner of the “Boston Globe,” had decided back in 1910 to build a new ballpark in the Fenway section of Boston bordering Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street. It would cost $650,000 (approximately $14 million today), and seat 35,000
Ground was broken September 25, 1911.
An attractive red brick façade, the first electric baseball scoreboard, and 18 turnstiles, the most in the Majors, were all features being talked about. Concrete stands went from behind first base around to third while wooden bleachers were located in parts of left, right, and centerfield. Seats lined the field allowing for excellent views of the game but limiting the size of foul territory.
Elevation was 20 feet above sea level. Barriers and walls broke off at different angles. Centerfield was 488 feet from home plate; right field was 314 feet away. The 10-foot wooden fence in left field ran straight along Lansdowne Street and was but 320 ½ feet down the line from home plate with a high wall behind it. There was a ten foot embankment making viewing of games easier for overflow gatherings. A ten foot high slope in left field posed challenges for outfielders who had to play the entire territory running uphill.
This was the Opening Day Lineup for the 1912 Boston Red Sox.
Harry Hooper – rf
Steve Yerkes – 2b
Tris Speaker – cf
Jake Stahl – 1b
Larry Gardner – 3b
Duffy Lewis – lf
Heinie Wagner – ss
Les Nunamaker – c
Smoky Joe Wood – p
The Sox, with player-manager first baseman Jake Stahl calling the shots, nipped the Yankees, 7-6, in 11 innings. Tris Speaker — who would bat .383, steal 52 bases and stroke eight inside-the-park home runs at Fenway — drove in the winning run. Spitball pitcher Bucky O’Brien got the win in relief of Charles “Sea Lion” Hall. The first hit in the park belonged to New York’s Harry Wolter.
Umpire Tommy Connolly kept the ball used in that historic game, writing “Opening of Fenway Park” and brief details of the game on it. In 2005, descendants of Connolly offered the ball at auction at New York Sothebys.
Hugh Bradley hit the first home run in Red Sox history over the wall on April 26th in the sixth game played at Fenway Park. “Few of the fans who have been out to Fenway Park believed it was possible,” the Boston Herald noted. That would be Bradley’s only dinger in 1912.
And that is how it all began.
Dr. Harvey Frommer, a professor at Dartmouth College in the MALS program, is in his 40th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, he is the author of 42 sports books including the classics: best-selling “New York City Baseball, 1947-1957″ and best-selling Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,as well as his acclaimed Remembering Yankee Stadium and best-selling Remembering Fenway Park. His highly praised When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl was published last fall.
His Frommer Baseball Classic – Remembering Yankee Stadium (Second Edition) is his newest sports effort. A link to purchase autographed copies of Frommer Sports Books is at: http://frommerbooks.com/
The prolific author is at work on THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK (2017)