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Fenway Park Turns One Hundred

In 2012, one of Major League Baseball's most beloved ballparks celebrates its centennial.

by Jennie Wood

Fenway Park

Fenway Park
Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

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In the spring of 1912, the "unsinkable" Titanic sank, the price of a U.S. stamp was two cents, a gallon of gasoline cost seven cents, and Fenway Park opened. A hundred years later, a stamp cost 45 cents, a gallon of gas $3.90, and movie audiences could buy tickets to watch the Titanic sink on the big screen in 3D. However, one thing remained the same a century later; Fenway Park continued to be one of Major League Baseball's most beloved ballparks.

On April 9, 1912, the first game was held at Fenway Park, an exhibition between Harvard College and the Red Sox. The Red Sox played their first official game there against the New York Highlands eleven days later. That year turned out to be a memorable one in many ways. By the end of the season, the Red Sox won 105 games in the regular season, along with the American League Pennant and the World Series. The team won the World Series again in 1915, 1916, and 1918. After 1918, however, the Red Sox luck changed and the team went from dominating the league to having one of the longest championship droughts in the history of baseball. They would not win another World Series until 2004, 86 years later.

In addition to baseball, Fenway Park has hosted various soccer matches, four seasons (1933-1936) of National Football League games, and the NHL Winter Classic. By 2012, Frozen Fenway had become an annual event, featuring games between hockey teams from nearby colleges.

Good Times Never Seems So Good

Also, over the years, some notable movies were filmed Fenway Park, including 1989's Oscar-nominated Field of Dreams, 2005's Fever Pitch, and The Town, a 2010 crime drama that features the ballpark in its climactic scene. Legendary bands and solo artists have played concerts at Fenway, including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, the Police, Paul McCartney, local boys Aerosmith, and Neil Diamond. Since 1997, Neil Diamond's song "Sweet Caroline" has been played at Fenway Park. Since 2002, it's been played in the middle of the eighth inning at every Red Sox home game.

The ball park has recently been renovated. Since 2002, dugout seating has been installed and seats were added above the Green Monster, the high left-field wall. For many years it was the league's smallest ballpark, but with the added seating its capacity has grown to 38,000. On March 7, 2012, the ballpark was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the renovations, the overall look and feel of Fenway Park have remained the same.

Centennial Events

On April 19, 2012, the ballpark is inviting fans to a free Fenway open house. Historical artifacts, photographs, and banners will be on display. Fans can meet Red Sox legends and visit parts of Fenway Park that are usually off limits. The following day, the Red Sox play the same team they played on April 20, 1912—the New York Yankees—who were called the New York Highlanders back then. Players on both teams will wear 1912 throwback uniforms. A pre-game 100th anniversary ceremony is planned.

In 2011, Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino announced that all renovations to Fenway Park were complete. He also stated that there were no plans to build a new ballpark, putting to rest rumor and speculation. For the foreseeable future, Fenway Park will remain the oldest and one of the most beloved ballparks in Major League Baseball.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The only known place in the United States where nighttime temperatures sometimes remain above 100°F is in Death Valley.

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