Football at Fenway (1)

Fenway Park, hosting a football game in 1934. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The same scene in 2007:

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Football at Fenway may seem strange today, but the park was home to several professional football teams, including the Boston Redskins from 1933-1936, and the Boston Patriots from 1963-1968. The top photo was taken during the Redskins’ time at Fenway, but the game in the photo is actually a high school game – Dorchester High against Mechanical Arts High, on October 12, 1934.

The second photo also shows a lower-level team playing on a major league field – here, the Pawtucket Red Sox are warming up prior to its 2007 Futures at Fenway game. In many ways, Fenway Park is still very much the same as it was in the 1930’s, but one obvious difference is the lack of lights – Fenway would be the second to last MLB park to get lights, in 1947. Another change is the fact that the Green Monster was not yet green, and instead was covered in advertisements. Today, the green color is there, but as of late it has slowly been getting re-covered in ads, as seen in the 2007 photo.

Fenway Park, Boston (3)

Fenway Park as it appeared in 1912, the year it opened. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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Roughly the same view, in April 2006:

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For the first 35 years of its existence, the Green Monster wasn’t green – it was essentially a giant billboard.  And the original Green Monster seats weren’t on top of it – they were at the base, atop Duffy’s Cliff – a steep incline leading up to the wall that was usually in play and was mastered by Boston left fielder Duffy Lewis.  For this particular photo in 1912, the bleacher seats were temporarily constructed to handle the increased crowds for the 1912 World Series.  The original wooden 1912 wall is gone – it was replaced in 1934 by the present-day wall, and the incline was eliminated, making left field several feet below the level of Landsdowne Street, which is located directly behind the Monster.  The other major feature in the 1912 photo – the wooden left field bleachers – are also gone.  They burned in 1926, and since fans weren’t exactly clamoring to get through the turnstiles at Fenway in the 1920’s, they were not replaced until Tom Yawkey purchased the team and extensively renovated the park to its current configuration in 1934.  See posts #1 and #2 to see similar views from 1912 and the present-day.

Fenway Park, Boston (2)

Another view of Fenway Park from 1912, the year that it opened. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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The same view in July, 2011:

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One of Fenway Park’s many quirky features is “Pesky’s Pole,” the right field foul pole that stands a mere 302 feet from home plate, making it the shortest possible home run distance in any MLB park.  Much of this is due to the piecemeal way in which the park was built and modified over the course of 100 years.  See this post for the view of the park from the same spot but looking further to the right.

Fenway Park, Boston (1)

The view of Fenway Park from the right field bleachers, about a week before the beginning of the 1912 World Series. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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Fenway Park in July 2011:

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Fenway Park is the oldest MLB park, being several years older than the Cubs’s Wrigley Field, but along the way it has been extensively transformed.  Very little of the park remains from its 1912 appearance; the bleachers on the far right side of the 1912 photo burned in 1926, and in the perfect metaphor for the team itself during this time period, the bleachers lay in the ashes of its former glory until Tom Yawkey purchased the club in 1933.  One of his first moves was to rehabilitate the park, which included constructing the present concrete and steel grandstand in the infield area.  Thus, photos from the 1930’s and later show a ballpark that very closely resembles the Fenway Park that we know today.  Curiously, although the 1912 photo shows a park with just a single deck in the grandstand area, the foundations were built to accommodate a second deck in the event that the team eventually decided to expand the seating.  This is perhaps what ensured the park’s existence into the 21st century; although small and old, it has been able to adapt in ways that most other early 20th century parks were unable to.